Being a responsible pet owner means considering the emergency plan for your pets. During Hurricane Katrina, in the New Orleans area alone, it is estimated that 600,000 animals died or were displaced by the storm with 90,000 never been accounted for.

And it’s not just hurricanes, flooding, tornadoes, wildfires and even gas leaks can keep you from your home for days or weeks. Without a plan, your pet could be left dealing with the aftermath without you. The solution? Take your pet with you.

Crates provide a simple and easy way to transport your pet during an evacuation and for many dogs, a comfortable crate can help them to relax and stay calm. Whether you are on the coast dealing with a named storm or you are dealing with rain and flooding inland, your pets will need to be able to spend time in the car or inside shelter.

The American Veterinary Medical Association lists these guidelines when selecting a crate for your cat or dog.

-Cat carriers should be large enough to hold a small litter pan and two small dishes and still allow your cat enough room to lie down comfortably or stand to use the litter pan.
-Dog kennels or collapsible cages should be large enough to hold two no-spill bowls and still allow your dog enough room to stand and turn around.
-Each pet should have its own carrier.

You might believe your pets are well trained, but often due to many unforeseen circumstances such as noise, stress, and car sickness, your pet may not want to sit on your lap. Stress, combined with new environments, can cause your pets to act differently, without a crate, you run the risk of your pet escaping miles from home or getting lost outside during the storm.

Many people don’t use crates for their pets during everyday activities, but when the need arises, the shelves will quickly empty of any and all crates. The crates for the common sized pets likely will go first leaving crates that are too small to fit your pet comfortably, or too large to sit in your vehicle. Planning ahead allows you time to see what works best for you and your pet during an emergency. By crate training your pet, you can help them to be more comfortable when it comes time to use it during an emergency.

Health and wellness of others is another factor to consider when selecting a create. Many pets can be sensitive to new environments. Sickness can be avoided by keeping pets from different homes separate so they don’t cross contaminate each other. Stress can also cause your pet to become aggressive or skittish. A crate can provide a sense of security to a nervous animal where they can’t hurt themselves or others.

Planning for your pet during hurricane season is part of being a responsible pet owner. All animals are different and will respond to being crated differently. Do your research, consult your vet, and consider the needs of your pet in advance to allow to find out what works best for everyone.

If you’d like to read more about emergency preparedness and pets, check out Saving the Whole Family a fantastic resource by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation.