With Hurricane Matthew approaching Florida and states along the east coast, it is important that you make sure your entire family is prepared for a natural disaster like a hurricane. This includes the furry friends as well.

The ASPCA is urging pet owners to take the following steps:

• If you evacuate, take your pets with you. Never leave your pets behind.
• Make sure all pets are wearing ID tags with your up-to-date contact information. The ASPCA also recommends micro-chipping your pet as a more permanent form of identification, should collars or tags become lost.
• Create a portable pet emergency kit with items such as medical records, water, water bowls, pet food and your pet’s medications.
• Choose a designated caregiver, such as a friend or relative outside of the evacuation zone, who can take care of your pet in the event you are unable.
• Download the free ASPCA mobile app, which allows pet owners to store crucial pet records needed for boarding pets at evacuation shelters and provides a disaster preparedness check-list.

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"It's important for families to remember their canine and feline members when preparing for or evacuating in any disaster," said Dr. Dick Green, senior director of Disaster Response for the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response team. "The ASPCA stands ready to assist animals in Matthew’s path, but the first and best line of defense for pets will always be a well-prepared owner."

The ASPCA Field Investigations and Response team frequently responds to natural disasters including the recent Louisiana flooding and the Northern California wildfire. In addition, they are called on by state and municipal governments and other animal welfare partners to lend expertise during large-scale animal rescue operations.

More disaster preparedness tips can be found at: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/disaster-preparedness.