Two Golden Retrievers and their owners are caught up in a mega-flood in Bangkok, Thailand.
Tue, 07/06/2021 - 10:37am

The Cone of Uncertainty

What will you do to save your pets if disaster strikes?

I live in the Cone of Uncertainty. 

Most of the time, that means second-guessing choices, spinning on decisions, fretting over the future.

This time of year, that means I am in the probable path of a tropical storm. 

It seems like regardless of where a storm starts out, or makes landfall, my location here in East Jesus falls within that cone. 

Anytime I surf Zillow in search of a place to relocate, and find a listing for a lovely horse farm that comes with a renovated house and pristine barn and prepaid staff, offered well below fair market value, my friend Patty always throws cold water on it by asking, “But isn’t that in the Cone of Uncertainty?” Never mind it’s in a great neighborhood, with lovely folks all around who believe in science, the value of public education and civic engagement. Forget there’s a Starbucks and a Target within a few minutes’ drive. Or an airport that can accommodate more than a once-a-day flight on a puddle jumper. 

It always comes back to That. Damn. Cone.

In the meteorological sense, the Cone of Uncertainty is called that because, as the forecast goes out in time, three, five or even seven days, its reliability is reduced. Lots of factors combine to influence the future movement (not to mention projected strength) of a hurricane, making predictions about their track tricky. Consequently, the cone broadens the further out in time the storm’s path is predicted. Uncertainty notwithstanding, communicating to folks the possibility that they will be in the path of the storm helps save lives because it alerts people of the need to prepare with sufficient time to carry out those preparations.

For those with animals, storm – and especially evacuation – planning can be daunting, frightening, even overwhelming to the point of being paralyzing. 

The good news for those of us who are part of the AKC family is that AKC’s Care and Conditions Policy already stipulates, “Each kennel should maintain an emergency preparedness plan adequate for the type of facility owned and breed(s) of dogs maintained therein.” 

So you have done yours, right?

Me neither.

But we can do hard things.

I find when I am sitting in the cone, spinning, and watching the length and breadth of the cone expand exponentially, it helps me to break things down into small pieces. Small tasks that are easily accomplished and give me confidence to move on to the next.

When envisioning and creating an emergency preparedness plan, start with the basics. The AKC has an outline of things to consider and questions to answer as you formulate your individual plan at

Even if you don’t have a “kennel” per se, you need to review the information and create a plan that fits your circumstances. And although you may never find yourself sitting in the path of a hurricane, what if you have a house fire, or find yourself without power for an extended period, or fall ill unexpectedly? 

Perhaps the most important thing you can do is have key information and documents handy (including a digital version that you can access remotely). Somewhere prominent in your house, perhaps on your refrigerator, display a list of dogs in your household, their names, ages, identifying information, special needs, together with your emergency contact and vet’s information. Reach out to a friend nearby to be your emergency contact – specifically, to be the person who agrees to help deal with your dogs in the event of an emergency, and share your dogs’ key information with that person. Share with your emergency contact the names and contact information for those individuals who can and are willing to step in during a time of more extended emergency to share responsibility for your dogs, perhaps your dogs’ breeders or another breeder or kennel owner in the vicinity. Make sure your family is aware that you have made these arrangements and provide them with all of this information as well.

Make sure your dogs are up to date on vaccinations. Consider the possibility that your dogs might need to be boarded in the event of an emergency. Microchip your dogs and make sure that the contact information tied to the chip is current. You can’t plan for every possibility, much less every emergency, but there is peace of mind that comes from taking certain steps in advance. 

It also has to be said that there is peace of mind that comes from feeling as if you are not alone. The dog community is awesome and expansive, and I have seen examples of it time and time again. During times of emergency, I have seen the dog community step up in huge way, like providing fully equipped pet disaster trailers, and in a small way, like recommending a dog-friendly evacuation hotel. Have comfort in the knowledge that your dog tribe is there to lend support and assistance to you, especially in an emergency.

We all may live in the Cone of Uncertainty, but the neighbors are great.



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