We have reached the height of hurricane season and now is the time to have your evacuation plan in place, not only for your people, but also for your pets. Evacuating with a pet requires advanced planning.

Do you have a way to transport your pet(s)? Do you have a destination lined up that accepts pets?

Early evacuation is key. When you are leaving with children and pets, it is encouraged to leave early before conditions become severe and give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination. If you wait for a mandatory evacuation and require the assistance of emergency personnel, there is no guarantee that your pets will be assisted as well.

Make sure you have transportation for you and your pets. If the car is loaded up with the children and important papers, photos, clothing and supplies — do you have a place to put your pet? Do you have a travel kennel or a place to store the kennel during travel that can be used once your reach your safe destination?

Two-car families should consider taking both vehicles to ensure that everyone can travel safely and comfortably. If transportation is an issue, check with family and friends and make a plan to travel together so that everyone, including pets, can be accommodated.

If you do not have your own transportation, in New Orleans, you can register for the City-Assisted Evacuation. This plan has 17 pickup spots in place that you can go to in the event of a mandatory evacuation. Pets can take part in this program, but there are a few things you should keep in mind in your choose to go this route with your pet:

  • Small pets (about 15 pounds) can ride with you on the bus. Larger animals, aggressive animals, pets that are hard to control or multiple animals cannot all ride with you to the train station.
  • If you have a pet that cannot ride the bus, provisions will be made to get your pet to the Union Passenger Terminal. You will stay at the pickup location with your animal until it is picked up.
  • When you register at the City Assisted Evacuation pickup points, you will be asked to register your pet’s information as well. You and your pet will be assigned an ID number that will allow state officials to track where everyone in your family is going, including your pet.

Remember, you must register for City-Assisted Evacuation in order to leave town using city resources. For information on the City-Assisted Evacuation Plan in regard to your pets, visit www.nola.gov/ready/pets.

Make sure that your pet is wearing a collar with up-to-date identification. Your cellphone number should be on your pets’ tags and an alternate phone number as well. Having your pet microchipped with a chip that is registered and up-to-date will increase your chances of being reunited if you become separated.

Pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost or killed. Having a solid evacuation plan in place ahead of time will alleviate stress and allow for a smooth exit should an evacuation be necessary.

Next week: Where to evacuate to with your pets.

Traci D. Howerton is Social Media Editor of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a 501(c)3 nonprofit. ARNO operates a volunteer-based, no-kill shelter in the Elmwood Industrial section of Jefferson Parish and depends upon the generosity of people from all over the country who have followed it since Katrina. Contact ARNO at arno.advocate@gmail.com; http://www.animalrescueneworleans.org; or leave a message at (504) 571-1900.