MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The key to hurricane season is preparation and experts recommend you have an emergency plan in place for your household and loved ones.
However, one member of the family that is often overlooked is your pet.
Sandy Brown, executive director of the Grand Strand Humane Society, says people need to make the same arrangements for their pets that they make for the rest of their family.
"It is a preparation that you need to make before a storm gets here," said Brown.
Brown says a lot of people wait until the last minute to start planning, and many falsely assume their local animal shelter can accept their pets through a storm.
"We have to take care of our own animals," explained Brown. "We always have about 200 animals so we're already overwhelmed preparing to get them out of town and to safety."
Dr. Muhammad Bajwa, a veterinarian with the Best Friends Animal Hospital, says leaving your pets behind should not be an option.
"If it's an emergency for you, it's an emergency for your animal," said Bajwa.
Bajwa also recommends people take their animal's veterinary records and medication along during any evacuations.
"All their health records, their vaccination information, if they're on any medications you should have a supply of that," explained Bajwa.
The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends each household prepare a pet emergency supply kit. The kit should include a two week supply of food and water, a leash, a crate or cage and toys to keep your pet entertained.
Bajwa also suggests people train their pets and familiarize them with any evacuation routes.
"Make sure that you have taught your pet how to go upstairs and downstairs," said Bajwa. "That can help emergency rescue people save their life."
According to the Grand Strand Humane Society, more than 100,000 animals died during Hurricane Katrina. Brown believes most of the deaths could have been prevented if people had included their pets in their evacuation plans.
"They should get their animals to safety just like they do themselves," said Brown.
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