Disaster Preparedness for Pets

During emergencies, shelters designed for people cannot accept pets.  Because there is no way to know how long it will be before you can return home, leaving your pets behind could mean that you may never see them again; They aren’t any better equipped to survive than you are and will not survive without food or if they drink contaminated water.

Make A Plan
Having a plan means that you can leave your home in advance of a storm with al
l the items needed for an extended stay away.  A plan will also allow you to make hotel arrangements (make sure they are pet friendly), arrange for your pet to stay with family or friends, or to make boarding arrangements for your pets in a safe area. 

Items to Include in a Pet-Specific Emergency Kit
With just a few extra steps, pet owners can prepare for their pet’s needs and safety during an emergency. Suggested items to include:

Food (at least 3 days’ worth for each pet) Bed(s), Crate(s), and/or Carrier(s)* Manual can opener
Water (at least 3 days’ worth for each pet) Newspaper or training pads Treats
Food & water bowl(s) Toys Cat litter with pan & scoop
Current pet medications Vaccination records Paper towels
Leashes & collars Veterinarian contact information Trash bags
Photos of you with your pet First aid kit  

*Make sure your pets are comfortable being put in a carrier, especially cats. Because animals can sense anxiety, they may resist being put in the crate or run from you and it is important for you to try and stay calm during the evacuation process.

Be sure to have one carrier per cat (trying to put two cats into one carrier is difficult and could cause one or both to escape). Dogs that must stay in a shelter during an evacuation are usually kept in a crate and planning ahead by conducting crate-training with your pet will reduce their stress. Always be sure the crate is large enough for your dog to be able to turn around, stand, and lay down comfortably. 

It is important for horses to be trained to load in a trailer before an emergency occurs. Horses that refuse to load can become dangerous to the handlers who may be forced to leave the animal behind.  If you do not own a trailer, make arrangements ahead of time with someone who can move them for you.

Dogs and cats should have an ID tag securely attached to their collars with either a metal ring or riveted to the collar. This tag should include your pet’s name, your name, address, and current cell phone number. 

All dogs and cats should be microchipped; if their collar is lost, your information can be obtained from the microchip.  As part of your disaster planning process, check to be sure your pet’s microchip is registered and the information is current.

If your pet is not microchipped, you can write down your information and place it in a zip lock baggie secured to the pet’s collar or use a Sharpie to write your information directly on a nylon collar or temporary collar.  Be sure to fasten the collar safely and securely around your pet’s neck.  Microchipping is always the safest, most reliable method of identification.

Additional Resources Emergency Preparedness and Response Preparedness webinars for pets Bringing animals and their people from Crisis to Care


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