Dogs wag in our houses, cats bask in our apartments, canaries sing in our kitchens – this resident menagerie makes us better people. Study after study prove that sharing our lives with animals boosts mental and physical health. And oh boy, are we sharing with the frisky set: nearly half of all Canadians own a dog and about two of five own cats, not to mention those owning rodents, birds, snakes and more exotic choices. Collectively, we lavish $8 billion worth of care, treats and toys on pets yearly.

Since we treat pets as family, we worry about them when disaster threatens. Happily, Canadian organizations and governments are helping pets weather nature’s fury. The internet offers abundant information and resources to help as well. How else can you personally protect your companion animals if flood or other natural disaster threaten? Remember the acronym PETS:

Plan: First, plan ahead before the weather takes a turn for the worse. Ensure your pet has tags or, even better, a microchip in case you are separated. Research local shelter policies now – many now allow evacuees to bring pets – or locate pet-friendly lodging outside the likely danger zone. Finally, prepare a “Go” bag with a week’s worth of food (moist or canned helps lessen need for water and stays fresh longer), bowls, medications, non-retractable leashes, proof of vaccinations (many shelters require these) and anything else your pet needs to be comfortable and safe.

Evacuate Together: The best scenario is to take your pets with you when you evacuate, ensuring that each has a kennel to keep them safe and provide familiar surroundings during your shared journey.

Transport Pets to Safety: If you and your pet can’t stay together during an evacuation, the next best solutions are to leave pets with friends or family outside the danger zone or check your pet into a pet-friendly boarding facility. Take along your pet’s “Go” bag when you deliver your furred friend to its temporary caretaker.

Shelter Pets in Place: This option is a last resort but it may be the only recourse for some pet owners. If you must leave your pet behind, do not tether them or leave them outside. Close them into a high room – unrestrained – with plenty of food and water easily available. Separate pets, even if they get along (animals can be unpredictable when they are distressed) and post signs on outside doors notifying emergency personnel and mitigation professionals that pets are inside. Be sure to include your name, the pets’ names and your contact information.

With proper planning and proactive owners, most pets weather storms well. It’s much more likely that your home will sustain damage instead. For those property emergencies, Paul Davis is on call 24/7/365, promises a return call within 30 minutes and will arrive within four hours.