Emergency Preparedness for Pets and Animals

Pets and animals are impacted by emergencies. It is critical to include their needs in your family’s preparedness efforts.

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Pets are important members of many households, and like people, they are affected by disasters. If you have pets, you should add animal supplies to your emergency kit and consider their needs in your Family Emergency Plan.

Emergency Kit

To ensure your pets have necessary supplies during an emergency, your emergency kit should include:

  • Collars, leashes, harnesses, cages, and/or carriers to transport and house your pets
  • Medications and medical records, stored in a waterproof container
  • Food,  water, bowls
  • Familiar items to make pets feel comfortable (toys, treats, blankets)
  • Cat litter, litter pan and litter scoop
  • Updated photo of your pet in case you are separated
  • Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and veterinarian contact information
  • Any other important items that your pets regularly use

Family Emergency Plan

Your Family Emergency Plan should outline what you will do with your pets if you have to evacuate. Since you will not know how long you will be gone, you must take your pets with you. When you go, they go! If you are going to a public shelter, pets may not be allowed, so it is important to plan where you will go in advance. Your emergency plan should identify possible pet-friendly locations, including:

  • A friend or relative’s home that would be willing to let you and your animals stay.
  • Temporary shelter facilities in your community. Consult your local animal control officer and emergency management director about local options.
  • Pet-friendly hotels, motels, campgrounds, boarding/kennel facilities both inside and outside your local area. Ask if “no pet” policies can be waived in an emergency
  • Veterinarians who could shelter animals in an emergency. Be sure to include the 24-hour phone numbers in your plan.
  • Local animal shelters, which may provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets in a disaster. Animal shelters may be overburdened caring for the animals they already have, as well as those displaced by a disaster, so this should be your last resort.

Consider developing a buddy system with neighbors, friends, and relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so.

If you have time before you evacuate, call ahead to the emergency pet friendly locations you have identified to confirm arrangements for you and your pets.

Other Animals Requiring Additional Planning

If you have large animals (such as horses, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, etc.) you may need to take additional preparedness steps. If you plan on evacuating, make a plan for having sufficient vehicles, trailers, and personnel needed to transport and support each type of animal. If not evacuating, you should decide whether you will move large animals to sheltered areas or turn them outside depending on the incident.

If you have exotic pets, make sure you have any supplies or equipment that you need to support your pet. If bringing your exotic pets to a new location (friend of family’s home, emergency shelter, etc.) ensure that they are handled, transported, and cared for by trained personnel.

Additional Pet Tips

  • Make sure your pets wear collars with their current license and rabies tags, and if possible, attach the address and/or telephone number of your evacuation site. If your pet has a microchip, be sure that the information is updated to reflect your current phone number and address.
  • During or after an emergency leash your pets when they go outside, and keep them close. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and your pet may become confused or lost.
  • Your pets’ behavior may change after an emergency a normally quiet or friendly pet may become aggressive or defensive. Watch animals closely.
  • Wildlife, snakes, and other dangerous animals may be displaced from their natural surroundings and inhabit the area due to the disaster situation. 
  • Downed power lines and spilled chemicals also present hazards to pets.

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