In the wake of the hurricane and subsequent flooding in 2011, animal emergency response teams are urging pet owners across New Jersey to have a plan in place and be ready in the event of an upcoming evacuation or disaster.

"The most responsible thing a pet owner can do is make sure their animals are microchipped. If they were to become separated from their pet, they would have a much better chance of being reunited. Even if the dog or cat has a collar, in an emergency, there is always the chance that the animal can get separated from its collar," said Dr. Shari Silverman, Veterinarian and Emergency Coordinator for the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.

"We also urge pet owners to have a 'grab and go' bag packed and ready to go in the event they have to leave their home on short notice," said Silverman. "The bag should contain medical records, medication, microchipping information, identification on the pet, a leash, food and any other pertinent information on the animal. If the animal winds up in a shelter during an evacuation or emergency situation, it's important for that shelter to know exactly what they're dealing with or if that animal has any health issues that need to be addressed."

Almost every county in New Jersey has a County Animal Response Team, or CART, which is activated in the event of an emergency. CARTs are responsible for setting up temporary animal shelters and for community outreach. "If pet owners are evacuated to human shelters, CARTs help provide accommodations for their animals. They also distribute information about emergency planning," said Silverman.

"The best way for a pet owner to be prepared is to have a plan in place. Know exactly where you and your pet are going to go in the event of an emergency. If you plan it out ahead of time, it'll be easier to handle if an emergency situation should arise," said Silverman.