When you make your emergency plans, don't forget your pets.
Last year, thousands of animals died during Hurricane Katrina.
The US House recently passed the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act. It would require state and local emergency management agencies to make sure pets are taken care of when disaster strikes. Leaders hope to prevent pet owners from leaving their pets behind or refusing to evacuate without them.
"She'd be one of the first things we'd grab. We couldn't do that. No way," says pet owner James Branscomb. He loves his dog Trixie and where he goes, she goes.
"They're your children. They are totally reliant on you. If you don't take care of them, that's it," he says.
During the flood of '98 in Albany, he made sure his pets were well taken care of. "We did have bottled water. We did have food handy for them," he says.
"If you can't take your pets with you, try to do the best for them around the house," says Dougherty County's Emergency Management director, Jim Vaught.
When disaster strikes, Vaught says your pet's safety is crucial. "Have an area for them to be able to get up out of the elements, not so that if they're chained, and so that when we do have high water, they can get away from the water," he says.
If you have to leave you pet behind, you do have options. "We can have that pet housed at the humane society. The humane society will come out, pick up the animal in a cage and go back to the society and they have plenty of food to feed them," he says.
Veterinarians also suggest stocking up on a two week's supply of medication for your pet. "It's good to have at least a couple of weeks worth of that in reserve along with papers according to health care and what you have on your animal. It might be useful somewhere else to another healthcare professional," says Henry Hart.
Luckily for Trixie, her owner has her well-being already in mind. "We're basically prepared no matter what happens," says Branscomb. In case the next big storm hits, he knows the one close to him will be okay. "Your pet's and family's safety is first, the rest you can replace," he says.
Also, many vets will implant a microchip underneath your animal's skin to identify your pet if you and your pet are separated. It makes happy reunions much easier. These will do no good if your pet is not taken to a vet to recover the chip.
A Pet GPS or GPS Dog Collar can come in very handy during a time like this. One can find their pet immediately and recover them without any hassel.