Spring is a great time of year. We open our windows and plant new flowers. Unfortunately, most good things have bad aspects. The bad that I am referring to is natural disasters such as floods, storms and tornados.

Spring is a great time of year. We open our windows and plant new flowers. Unfortunately, most good things have bad aspects. The bad that I am referring to is natural disasters such as floods, storms and tornados.

We worry about our family and children when bad weather strikes, but how many of you actually think about your pets? When the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, there were hundreds of dogs tied outside that were left to fend for themselves. People literally left them to die. Without getting into the argument over which lives are the most important to save, I’m going to focus on how we should make an effort to save our pets when disaster strikes.

Where does your pet stay when you are not at home? Is it inside the house or the basement? Is it loose in the yard, in a pen or on a chain? Our pets need to be kept in a safe place at all times. They should have a cool, comfortable place to stay with plenty of fresh water to drink and room to stretch out and lie down.

Take a moment to think about the weather and your responsibilities to your family and pets. If storms are predicted for the day, do you make preparations for your family and pets? If you don’t, you should.

Many dogs and some cats are terribly afraid of thunder. Animals that are loose when a storm approaches can run away and become lost because of their fear. Keep cats and dogs inside where they can feel safe from storms. Some prefer to stay in the basement or lie inside a closet.  Soft, soothing music can help calm pets. Our border collie takes Shen Calmer to help her deal with her fear of storms. Our holistic vet, Pat Perkins, also recommended getting a thunder shirt for her. The thunder shirt fits snugly on the dog’s torso and is said to have a calming effect. Dr. Perkins said the thunder shirt works well for her dogs.

The ASPCA has provided a list of tips for disaster preparedness on their website www.aspcapro.org/emergency-pet-preparedness.php. I recommend going over these and making a plan for your family and your pets in case of a disaster. Some of the items on this list are:

Always bring pets indoors at the first sign or warning of a storm or disaster. Pets can become disoriented and wander away from home during a crisis. Post a rescue alert sticker on your front door to alert rescue workers there are animals inside. Arrange for a safe haven. This can be a motel outside the area that allows pets, or friends or relatives that would be kind enough to allow you to bring your pets to stay for a while. Purchase or create an emergency kit that contains items that you will need to care for your family and your pets. The ASPCA recommends microchipping your pet as a more permanent form of identification.  Microchips can be read by scanner at most animal shelters. Store an emergency kit and leashes as close to an exit as possible. Make sure all pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date identification. Your pet’s ID tag should contain his name, your name, telephone number, and any urgent medical needs.

Family is important and pets should be part of the family. They deserve the same consideration and care as our human family members. Going off and leaving your pet during a disaster is a cold thing to do. If you plan now, you will be prepared to save everyone in your family, including your pets, if disaster strikes.