Emergency Preparedness for Pets


It's easy to think that disasters only affect ‘other people'.  But an emergency can strike at any time, in many forms - and pets are often the most innocent victims.  Taking a few simple steps to plan in advance can help you keep your pet safe in the event of an emergency.

Arrange shelter

  • Make arrangements with a trusted friend or neighbor to take care of your pet if you can't make it home.
  • Since health and safety regulations often prohibit disaster shelters from accepting pets, find out pet policies for hotels and motels in the area to which you plan to evacuate.
  • Compile a list of boarding facilities including local animal shelters and veterinary offices that can provide foster care for your pet.
  • Most important, never leave your pet behind.  Even if you can't bring her with you, its vital that you arrange for some form of temporary care.  Animals left alone in a disaster situation have little chance of survival.

Put together an emergency pet kit

Keep your kit in a waterproof container that's easy to carry. Items to include would be:

  • Food, water and medications for one week (don't forget a can opener if packing canned food)
  • Food and water dishes
  • Leash and/or carrier
  • Pet first aid kit
  • Copies of medical and vaccination records
  • Clear, current photos of your pet in case you're separated
  • Poop bags or litter box and litter
  • Blanket or towels

Make sure your pet is wearing an ID

  • Provide your pet with a secure collar and current ID tag with your cell phone number on it.  Also consider getting your pet microchipped - that way, even if her collar gets lost, animal recovery facilities can pull up your contact information with a quick scan.

Remember, emergencies aren't always limited to natural disasters.  Have you thought about what you would do if you were unable to get home to your pet during a power outage, or if there was a gas leak in the neighborhood?

It's a good idea to make arrangements ahead of time with a trustworthy neighbor who is familiar with your pet to be an emergency caretaker.  Exchange keys and make sure you provide your neighbor with your cell phone number as well as your veterinarian's contact information.  Also, show that there are pets inside by placing an emergency decal in a front window of your home.  Most local police and fire departments provide decals, or contact your veterinary office.