Caring for Pets in an Emergency

Our pets enrich our lives in more ways than we can count… and often our dogs, cats, birds and critters are more like family than pets. During a disaster, our pets rely on us for their safety and well-being. It is important to include preparations for your pet(s) in your emergency disaster plan.

Planning for your pet

There are many things you can to do prepare and plan your pet for emergency or natural disaster. Begin with these few steps.

  • Plan to take your pet with you in an evacuation. Know which hotels and motels in your area (or along your evacuation route) will accept you and your pet during an emergency.
  • Know which friends, relatives, boarding facilities, animal shelters or veterinarians can care for your pet in an emergency. Prepare a list with phone numbers.
  • Include your pets when you practice your family emergency plan so that they become used to entering and traveling in carriers calmly. Consider making older children responsible for bringing the pet(s) emergency supply kit.
  • Make sure that your pet’s vaccinations are current and that dogs and cats are wearing collars with securely fastened, up-to-date ID tags.

Assemble portable pet emergency kit

Keep these items in an accessible place and stored in sturdy container so they can be easily carried.

  • Sturdy leashes, harness and/or carrier to transport your pet safely and ensure they cannot escape
  • Bowls, food and drinking water
  • Cat litter /pan
  • First aid kit
  • Current photos of you with your pet(s) in case they get lost. Since many pets get lost in natural disasters, this will help to eliminate mistaken identity and confusion.
  • Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems
  • Pet bed and toys, if easily transportable

After a disaster… the behavior of pets may change dramatically, becoming aggressive or defensive. It is important to be aware of your pet’s well-being and protect them from hazards to ensure the safety of other people and animals. Watch your animals closely and be aware of hazards at nose and paw or hoof level, particularly debris. Pets may also become disoriented, particularly if the disaster has affected scent markers that normally allow them to find their home.

Emergency planning should be considered for all of your animals. Consider the unique needs of caring for your:

  • Fish – generator for filtration systems
  • Birds
  • Reptiles – generator for heat lamp
  • Small animals
  • Horses
  • Livestock