Hopefully we give some thought to what we would do in a bad situation, how we would get our loved ones to safety if anything happened.
We too rarely give the same consideration to our beloved pets who look to us for that exactly.
We have taken on the responsibility of caring, feeding and even hospitalizing our furry companions but too often we forget about them in an emergency.
Perhaps we assume they will be there next to us and we can reach them easily, taking them with us.
This is rather naïve as animals run at the sign of danger and usually before a human is even aware of the coming storm, as it were.
More often than not Fluffikins will be hiding under a bed or in a closet during the crucial moments of escape, unseen.
Pets are often the living creatures left behind when adversity descends because we have no genuine plan set aside for their evacuation.
To be fair, many times we are warned or learn too late to even get our children out of harm's way but we plan for the eventuality; we need to plan for safety of the fur friends as well because they certainly can't do it themselves.
Disaster Casualties The world is shaken by the absolute devastation wrought through a massive fire or a behemoth of a hurricane.
In a single night our lives can be transformed and forever changed.
So too for the pets we hold in stewardship.
It is unknown how many pets were lost in the devastation of Hurricane Katrina alone, which scoured the South in 2005.
Thousands definitely, as they had no means of escaping either collapsing homes or rising floods.
That number does not include livestock or other animals.
In the days that followed, over 10,000 were rescued and while those numbers are staggering, they represent only one natural disaster out of many.
We have no way to count the casualties of domestic animals over even one year's span but the numbers are mind boggling, that much is not hard to determine.
Forming a Plan As a loving pet owner you undoubtedly care deeply for Fluffikins and want her by your side as you grieve for your material losses, not include her among what you have lost.
You need a plan.
Certain areas of the country are in greater danger than others for specific disasters, so determine yours.
Hurricanes and tornadoes can be tricky but always engage the worst case scenario when making plans: • Call ahead for shelters and shelter alternatives.
Don't wait to know what places nearby will take you and your pets.
Check hotels, motels and makes sure friends and relatives are keen on sharing space with your extended furry family.
• If a storm is brewing, don't leave animals home alone.
If they are frightened, they may escape.
Animals left to exposure or survival on their own often don't make it.
• Know where your evacuation centers are.
Many are held in schools, public buildings or churches.
Make sure they will allow pets and ensure they are not in a storm surge zone.
Make pet survival kits and set them aside but in quick and easy reach.
These kits should include extra food, medications if needed and litter for cats.
Keep bottled water available too.
• Keep ID tags up to date and secure on the collars.
Keep all shots up to date in case proof of them is needed for some shelters or medical attention.
• Keep pet carriers, leashes and harnesses available at all times and in easy reach.
If there is a storm and you receive warnings, place the animals in carriers or on leashes for a super fast exit.
Have the kits near the door or in the car for immediate evacuation.
Always be prepared for the worst but hope for the best.
After the Fact Despite everything you have planned and prepared, the storm strikes without warning and Fluffikins was outside in her large fenced yard.
You get separated and have no idea what became of her.
You suspect she is okay because she was always a survivor but how do you track her down? Two of the easiest ways to recover Fluffikins if you do lose her is to show off her picture and to give her a collar tag.
A photo is extremely helpful in matching pet parents to their animals if those animals are found elsewhere.
Keep a photo in your wallet and make sure you notice any small, individual and distinguishing marks about her.
In a line up of German Shepherds, some distinctive mark or trait will be helpful.
A tag with her name on it and your phone number or address is probably the best thing you could ever place on her collar.
If she runs away or is otherwise separated from you this little piece of identification can mean the difference between her being returned to you or being dropped off at the pound.
Always tag your pets especially cats and dogs or have them chipped.
The failure to do so can mean life or death to your furry friend.
If your pets are not chipped for tracking, then you will need to do some legwork and make calls to animal shelters.
This may seem like a lot of work and it is but Fluffikins could be waiting forlornly in a shelter expectant to see you at any moment.
Make her return a high point of the disaster and not yet another thing to grieve over.
She will be more than happy to lift your spirits and let you know that everything will all be all right.