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Disaster ready pets

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What would happen to your pet if a disaster- like a flood, tornado, fire- struck? You need a plan.

You may think your pet would never wind up lost- and in a shelter- hoping they'll see you again. It can actually happen to anyone, especially when disaster strikes.

"They break off of a line that they usually wouldn't break off of," says Humane Society of Genesee County's Lori Haglund, "They get out of the house when they usually couldn't get through the door. They're scared."

Haglund, an intake technician at the HSGC, says the number one thing you can do to protect your pet in case of an emergency is to make sure they are wearing a collar andID.

But, she says, having your pet microchipped is even better, because collars and ID tags can fall off, "We call the microchip company. We get the people's information. We get more information about the pet, cause it gives us the age. It gives us the name, which makes them feel more comfortable when we call them by name. And, potentially, we can get them back to their owner that much quicker."

Most stray or lost pets land in shelters or veterinary offices, and the vast majority of those places have universal scanners, that will read most microchips.

The catch is, you have to keep your membership up to date with microchip companies, and notify them any time your contact information changes.

"If the phone numbers are wrong, if the addresses are wrong, you know, it makes it really difficult to get your dog or your cat back to you if that's not up to date," Haglund says.

When disasters strike, a lot of pets disappear. Fortunately, thanks to the kindness of strangers, many pets land in shelters and vet's offices.

"Everybody wants to help if they see an animal that they think is potentially in an unsafe situation," Haglund tells me.

It may comfort you to know that most shelters have plans in place for major disasters, Haglund says, "We would set something up here if there was a disaster. And we would have a place where people could come in a disaster and we would make sure all of the animals are safe."

That is one more reason you should aslo keep copies of your pet's vet and vaccination records, as well as a list of medications they take, handy.

"In a disaster situation, we would want to make sure all of the animals were vaccinated. So if your animals are already vaccinated, you would already have all of that information with you," and, Haglund says, it would make the whole process easier on you and your family.

You should also keep pictures of your pets with you, in case they are lost when you are away from home. If you have them on your phone, you can text and email them out, as well as post them on social media.

While they are intended for fires, there are stickers that you can put on the outside of your house, alerting rescuers that you have pets and how many may be trapped inside.

There are also pet disaster preparedness kits available online, as well.

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