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by Cathy M. Rosenthal, MySanAntonio.com

September is National Emergency Preparedness Month — a time to remind us all how inadequately prepared we are for an impending disaster or emergency that might require us to evacuate our homes.

All month long I have been getting emails from the local sheriff’s department (thank you) reminding me about having backpacks with certain essential items ready to go in case of an emergency. Like most Americans, home is the one place I feel safe and where nothing can really happen to me. But having worked at the San Antonio Humane Society during Hurricane Katrina and knowing the influx of 800 plus animals we received — animals that were abandoned, strays, or brought to us by displaced evacuees — I also know better too.

I know what I am supposed to do to be ready, but I don’t quite meet the standard of “ready backpacks.” I know I could scoop all my pets medications into a sack in 30 seconds, as everything is kept in the same cabinet. Kennels break down quickly and can be put in the car. Leashes are kept in a single basket that could be scooped up on the way out the door. I do think I could gather everything I need for my pets in less than five minutes, but that might not leave me with enough time to put on pants and shoes.

I have to improve my skills, if not just to be a better example to you.

A recent survey of pet owners by Pet360 Inc. revealed that 46% of pet owners do not have an emergency plan for their pets. That means 54% do have a plan and that is really terrific since getting more than half of America to do anything is an incredible achievement.

Of course, those 54% may all live in Vermont where disasters rarely happen. Us folks in Texas have a lot more weather-related events to contend with, so we really do need to take heed and be prepared.

(You can read more of Pet360′s survey here and take stock of their 4 P’s to Plan Ahead, Practice, Prepare and Protect.)

Here are my pet tips for being somewhat pet ready in disaster:

  • Keep a a few leashes in your car in case you have to bolt quickly.
  • Keep pet carriers where you can grab and see them, not under boxes in the garage.
  • Keep medications in one place so you can scoop them into a bag.
  • Keep a list of the medications in your phone in case you need to get refills.
  • Keep pet food in a container so you can put it in the car.
  • Make sure your pets are tagged with your cell number.
  • Get your pets microchipped in case they get lost and wind up at a shelter.
  • Grab the litter box and put it in the car. Or buy a pan only style litter box and keep it in the car with a few supplies. (Wouldn’t you hate to get to a hotel without that little convenience.)
  • Know where you can go with your pets (hotels, shelters, family or friends) or where you can take your pets in an evacuation
  • And make sure you do the same for you and your family. Well not the tagging and the microchipping, but all the other stuff.

I think the best way to ensure a disaster will probably never happen is to be prepared for it.