Preparing Your Pet for a Disaster

DECEMBER 26, 2006 -- POSTED AT 10:00 P.M. CST

JONESBORO, AR -- Man's best friend was left behind in the devastating waters of Hurricane Katrina, relying on strangers for a way to safety. Because of that, in October of this year, President Bush signed the pets act, putting new laws in place for future animal disaster relief.  Now, you can take your animals with you if you are forced to evacuate your home.

"Pets must be allowed to be evacuated with their owners as long as they are in a pet carrier, they are well-behaved, where they're not going to be a danger to other people or other animals," says Dr. Everett Rogers, a local veterinarian

But Dr. Rogers, a veterinarian for the Jonesboro Family Pet Hospital says you still need to be prepared, especially with identification.

"The most permanent and the best identification for small animals is the microchip," says Dr. Rogers.

Along with identification, Dr. Rogers says you should keep an emergency travel kit on hand at all times. You should keep things such as a carrying cage, a minimum of 5 days of food and water, medical supplies for your pet, health papers, including vaccination records, and of course, a leash. And just in case you can't take your pet with you, it's important to have a back up plan outside the disaster area.

"I've got friends all over the country. It's just a matter of loading up the van, putting the dogs in and a couple of suitcases and picking the closest one. There's a group of us that have agreed, anything happens, come here, come here, and it's not a problem," says Julie Hill, a local pet owner.

Julie Hill is the proud owner of many four legged friends and she says she and her pets are ready to go in case of any emergency.

"I got more conscious of it after Katrina hit," says Hill.

And now, Hill keeps it all in her van. She's got a tub full of emergency supplies and travel cages ready to go. Being prepared in case of a disaster is something both legislators and animal lovers agree, we should never take for granted.

"We know have the responsibility to make sure that our animal friends do get out as well as our human family," adds Dr. Rogers.

Under the new federal act, state and local governments must now include pets in their disaster relief planning to qualify for grants from FEMA.