The toll that Hurricane Harvey has had on those in its wake seems like it is rising by the second. We are inundated by the statistics: 40,000 homes destroyed, 50 inches of rain and thousands evacuated. But there is another epidemic caused by the events in Houston – displaced pets. In any city homeless animals are an epidemic. Now, even pets who had a roof over their heads are without as neighborhoods have been destroyed with flood waters from Harvey.

As the water levels rise, so are the number of pets who need care. While Houston and residents from surrounding areas were warned to evacuate, some were left with no choice but to put them in shelters. Sadly, some ran off before the owners had a chance to ensure they were safe. Luckily, many of those have been rescued by emergency workers and brought into local centers. In the outpour of support that has been lent to Houston some has been in the form of vaccines, leashes, food and a slew of volunteers who have been of aid to the shelters.

When reports of the incoming loomed in the air along with dark rain clouds promising distress, those in Houston took some hard learned lessons from Hurricane Katrina and began preparation. When Katrina wrecked havoc through New Orleans in 2005, the animal shelters reached their peaks in record time as there were already homeless pets who had taken residence previously. After the storm settled, people went to retrieve their pets and found that they had been shipped far away, if they even found their pets location at at all. Before Harvey could take over, thousands of animals were shipped to shelters outside the region to ensure that local animals could fill the shelters. This increased the odds residents would be reunited with their furry friends.

They always say an ͞ounce of prevention is worth a pound of care,͟ and in emergency situations this is no different. We create plans of action for our parents, children and our pets should be no different.The Humane society reports that the two most most important things you can do are make sure your pet has an ID collar and microchip and keep them with you. If you evacuate take them and do it early to ensure that all members of your family have refuge before emergency shelters or centers get crowded. A little preparation can make the world of a difference.

The Humane Society has a list these as their pet emergency kit essentials if you are evacuating or seeking safety in your home here.

Pet MD also has a comprehensive list of preventative steps to take for each emergency situation. Find it here.