I have always been an advocate of the importance of planning. As I mentor budding entrepreneurs who have an idea, I ask them “Are you willing to commit to countless long days and nights, challenge after challenge, setbacks, heartbreak, all this to maybe, just maybe, reap the rewards of success?”. If the answer is YES, my response is put a plan in motion. As I continue to work with airlines and pet owners on how to improve pet travel, I stress the importance of having a travel plan which involves making airline reservations early, getting your pet accustomed to their travel bag, and more. But today, as natural disasters are uprooting many people from their homes, I can’t stress enough the importance of having a plan for your pet, so they are not forced to be left behind.

In July the McKinney Fire in California destroyed homes forcing the evacuation of almost 2,000 residents. In Oregon, an active wildfire prompted evacuation orders. Then there is flooding. In Mississippi In August and earlier in the  summer in Kentucky, it has been devasting and heartbreaking to watch what has transpired. Sadly, these natural disasters will continue to happen, especially as the southern region of the US is approaching another hurricane season. For the seventy percent of U.S. households, or about 90.5 million families, who own a pet, my question to them is: do you have a plan for your pet if a natural disaster occurs? If not, make a plan! As September is National Preparedness Month, I thought it would be timely to address the importance of pet preparations for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time.

It’s In the Bag

I worked with the Greater Good and the American Red Cross of Southern California to donate SHERPA Bagsto safely transport dogs and cats for those areas impacted by wildfires and people who needed to evacuate with their pets safely in crisis situations. A Red Cross representative noted, “These amazing gifts will help many people be well-prepared to take their pet along in situations where they must leave their homes in a hurry. Too often, people without a pet carrier are not able to take their dog or cat with them, which is heartbreaking.” It is critical you have a pet carrier at home, in a spot that is easily accessible, so when you need to leave, your pet can quickly and safely be with you.

Where To Now?

Do your research now and find out where there are pet-friendly hotels in your area and where your pet can stay with you if you need to evacuate. Research where your designated local pet-friendly shelter for natural disasters is so you can know where to go immediately, as they fill up quickly. Shelters should be a last resort but are there to enable families with pets to safely remain together in times of emergency. Wherever you go, have a bag packed with all essentials including proof of rabies vaccination, collar and leash, food, water, bowls, any necessary medication, and bags for clean-up.

ID Them

It is a thought I don’t even like to think about, but I know it happens. Pets often get separated from their owners during natural disasters. If your pet is not microchipped, do it now; if they are, make sure your contact information is up to date.  It is also so very important to have an identification tag on your pet that includes your cell phone number. This identification tag is the easiest way to reunite pets with owners, whether there is a disaster or not. It is also the quickest way for you to be reunited with your pet because everyone can read a tag!

While I hope that you never need to implement any of these tips, I can’t stress the importance of being prepared in the case of a natural disaster. Pets are family and I know I would do anything to protect mine! I hope you will, too!

Gayle Martz is the SilverDisobedience Pet Ambassador who will be sharing her insight on a variety of pet-related topics. Gayle is the founder of The SHERPA Pet Trading Company, where she single-handedly designed, manufactured and marketed the iconic SHERPA Bag you see everywhere! This carrier, which millions have bought for their dogs, cats and other animal companions, continues to be THE top-selling, prize-winning, globally-popularly soft-sided pet carrier. Further, it is because of Gayle’s advocacy and entrepreneurship that pet travel on airlines is now possible and common. Gayle’s the author of “IT’S IN THE BAG”, which is part memoir and part business book.