Disaster Planning and Your Pets

If you evacuate your home, do not leave your pets behind! Pets most likely cannot survive on their own and even if they do, you will most likely not be able to locate them when you get home.

Before a Disaster:

  • Identify shelter - Many emergency shelters for humans cannot accept pets. Find out if there are hotels or motels in your area that accept pets before a disaster. Include the local animal shelter's number in your list of emergency numbers.
  • Make a preparedness kit - Take pet food, bottled water, medications, veterinary records, cat litter/pan, can opener, food dishes, first aids kits and other pet supplies with you in a disaster. Packing a "pet survival" kits before disaster hits will help you and your pet make it through a disaster.
  • Keep ID tags current - Be sure your pet's ID tags have your most current phone number and if possible, attach the address and/or phone number of your evacuation site. Make sure you have a current photo of your pets for identification purposes.
  • Purchase a pet carrier - Make sure you have a secure pet carrier, leash or harness for your pet so if it panics, the pet can't escape.
  • Get additional information - Call your local emergency office, animal shelter or veterinarian to get advice about disaster planning for your pets.
  • Find local boarding information - Get the numbers of boarding facilities in case you are not able to return home right away after a disaster.
  • Note - Some animal shelter will provide temporary foster care for owned pets in times of disaster, but this should only be considered as a last resort.
  • If you must leave your pets at home - Do not ever leave them outside, leave them loose in your house with food and plenty of water. Remove the toilet sink lid and brace the door open so the pet can get in to drink. Place a notice outside in a visible area advising what pets are in the house and where they are located. Provide a phone number where you can be reached as well as the name and number of your vet.

During a Disaster:

  • Don't leave your pets outside - Bring them in immediately. Pets could get scared during an impending disaster and bolt.
  • Be prepared for indoor accidents - Have newspapers on hand for sanitary purposes. Feed pets moist food so they will need less water.
  • Separate your dogs and cats - Even if you think they get along, an emergency can make pets act irrationally.
  • Dealing with birds - In an emergency, you may have to take your birds with you. Talk with your veterinarian or local pet store about special food dispensers that regulate the amount of food a bird is given. Make sure the bird is caged and the cage is covered by a thin cloth or sheer to provide security and filtered light.

After a Disaster:

  • Relocate with your pet - If a disaster forces you to leave town, take your pets with you. They will not survive on their own.
  • Keep your pets close - In the first few days after a disaster, keep your pets on a leash when you go outside and always maintain close contact. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and your pet may be confused and lost. Also, snakes and other dangerous animals may be brought into the area with a flood. Downed power lines are also a hazard.
  • Watch for behavior changes - Normally, quiet and friendly pets may become aggressive or defensive. Watch animals closely. Leash dogs and place them in a fenced area with access to shelter and water.