Take these precautions to ensure your pet's safety.

By Michelle Darrisaw

When a storm comes, it can be all too easy to overlook those furry family members with four legs.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), more than 35 percent of dog and cat owners don't have an emergency pet plan in place before disaster strikes. Thankfully, there are steps you can take before Hurricane Irma is expected to reach south Florida and potentially Georgia and South Carolina this Saturday, September 9. As you ready your home, locate evacuation destinations, and pack your bags and kits, here are ways to protect your pet before, during, and after the storm. Fido will thank you.

Before the Storm

  • Have a microchip implanted in your pet or make sure their information is up to date if they already have a chip. If you don't have time between now and Saturday to visit a veterinarian, place a collar or tag around your pet's neck. In the event your pet is separated from you during the storm, a collar will help to identify them.
  • Of course, if you plan on evacuating, the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) encourages you to take your pets with you.
  • The FDEM suggests preparing a pet supplies kit that includes your pet's medication, leashes and/or carriers, current photos of your pet, food, drinkable water and bowls, toys, bedding, and your veterinarian's contact information.
  • Identify what evacuation shelters allow pets, and call ahead to hotels, motels, family members, and friends to determine where you and your pet can seek shelter. Local animal shelters and boarding facilities can also be a great resource.
  • Lastly, bring your outdoor pets inside, particularly those animals that are chained or housed in kennels.

During the Storm

After the Storm

  • It's possible your companion may be slightly disoriented after enduring the storm or after being evacuated. According to the Humane Society, when you return home, you should keep your animals leashed as they get acclimated to their surroundings.
  • "Try to get them back into their normal routines as soon as possible," the Humane Society recommends, adding that pets with persisting behavioral or medical problems should be evaluated by a veterinarian.

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A good pet plan starts before the disaster. As we saw with Hurricane Harvey when it hit southeast Texas, thousands of pets were displaced. It's crucial to follow these guidelines and evacuation orders to make sure you and your pets are protected.