Image for article titled Do This Now in Case You Are Separated From Your Pet After a Disaster

Photo: Kazantseva Olga (Backgrid)

It’s nerve-wracking to imagine any scenario where you and your family are impacted by a natural disaster, which is why you should always be prepared. Preparation can help reduce your anxiety now and make any disaster situation more tolerable if it ever happens. While you’re planning out what you and your family can do to stay safe, though, you should also keep your pets in mind.

You already know you’ll need to check local shelters and post ads if you’re separated from your pet, but here are some more specific, simple ways to increase the likelihood you’ll be reunited.

Take pictures of your pet

You probably already have a bunch of pictures of your dog or cat on your phone. That’s a good thing, since this will help you spread the pet’s image, enable people to recognize the animal if they encounter them, and prove you are the rightful owner. Make sure, though, that you don’t just have pics of them looking silly or cute. According to the Better Business Bureau, your pet pics should be the following:

This tip is widely recommended, in fact. The Animal League specifically calls for it and a recent partnership between Anheuser-Busch, American Humane, and the Red Cross will even cover the costs for you to get a physical picture of you and your pet sent to your home, so you can keep it with you. Keep that in mind: Not only should the pictures of your pet exist on your phone and online, but you should try to keep one with you physically, too. Even if there’s weak cell service or you lose the use of your phone, you’ll be able to show the physical picture to people you encounter at shelters or in the area, increasing the likelihood of being reunited if and when someone recognizes your animal.

Keep identifying information readily available (for you and your pet)

If your pet doesn’t have a microchip, get one. If they already have one, make sure it’s up-to-date. While microchipping is a sensible and modern approach to finding your animal in the event of a separation, old-school methods are helpful, too. The BBB recommends having your pet wear a weatherproof collar that includes your name, address, and phone number. If your pet has any allergy or special needs, consider adding a separate tag about those on the collar.

Your pet should always be wearing your info, but you should also always have their information on hand. In your phone and on the back of your physical picture, make notes about specific colorings, markings, and traits your pet possesses. It’ll be easier to reference a note than try to come up with these things when you’re panicking.

Post ads in physical, public spaces, and online in neighborhood groups, and be sure to include the recent pictures and identifying information you collected here.

Avoid pet reunification scams

In times of crisis, scammers seem to come out of the woodwork to prey on the vulnerable. Don’t let that happen to you. Here’s what the BBB says: “Once you post an ad online, anyone, including scammers, will have access to it. Scammers are known to attack those who are in vulnerable situations and who may overlook crucial details because of this. If someone contacts you claiming to have your pet, ask them questions that your ‘Lost Pet’ ad wouldn’t have the answers to. Questions such as, ‘What color are her eyes?’ or ‘How many tags does he have on his collar?’ could help to confirm that the person contacting you actually has your pet.”

Be especially wary of anyone who asks you to send them money upfront before they have given you your pet back or proven they actually have them.



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