Don't forget about Pet Planning when making your emergency and disaster plans. Our pets depend on us completely when an emergency event happens. Your pet preparedness planning should include the following:
If you have more than one pet, they may be more comfortable together; but be prepared in case you have to house them separately.
Check their policies on accepting pets and restrictions on number, size and species (bird, cat, dog, etc).
Ask if “no pet” policies could be waived in an emergency. Keep the list and your pet disaster kit with other disaster information and supplies.
(NOTE: Red Cross shelters cannot accept pets because of health and safety regulations. The only exceptions to this policy are service animals who assist people with disabilities.)
Pets often react to change in their environment and stressful situations by trying to run away or hide. In the panic to escape, they may bite or scratch their handler even if it is their owner. It is important to keep pets under control with a leash or in a carrier throughout the process of evacuation including transporting in a car.
• Bring all pets inside immediately.
• If instructed to evacuate owners should make ALL efforts to take their pets with them.
• Have newspapers available for sanitary purposes - also feed the animals moist or canned food so they will need less water to drink.
• If applicable, separate different types of animals, even if they normally get along. The anxiety of an emergency situation can cause pets to act irrationally.
• Keep an Emergency Radio close by and listen for any local instructions.
• After the disaster, leash pets when going outside. Maintain close contact, as pets may be confused due to changes on what used to be familiar landmarks and scents.
• Keep an eye out for snakes or other animals that might have been brought into the area by flood waters. Be aware that wildlife has likely been affected and displaced - Raccoons, gophers, deer and other wild animals might confront pets.
• Monitor pet behavior. Normally quiet and friendly pets may become aggressive or defensive after an emergency situation. Remember that emergency services might have been interrupted - Be aware that in case of injury it may take days for services to be fully restored and available.
• If pets cannot be found after a disaster, contact the local animal control office to find out where lost animals can be recovered. Bring along a picture for identification purposes, if available.
Contact your planned emergency contact person or neighbor (who has a key to the house) and ask them to transport pets to a pre-arranged safe meeting place, boarding facility, or the out-of-town emergency contact person. It is important that this person knows how to locate pets, handle pets, and access your pets emergency kit.
Pets should NOT be left at home as your first choice. If at all possible follow the pet planning procedures above to keep them in a supervised, safer environment. In the event that there is no possible way to take your pets and you have to leave them, here are a few tips to better their chance of safety and survival:
Remember, it is your responsibility to plan for your pets emergency preparedness, as well as your own. Start your pet planning NOW, it could mean life or death to your pets if a disaster does happen.
In the event of an emergency you may have to leave your home quickly. Have a pet emergency kit ready to go. If you don't have the time or prefer not to make your own, there are several places that you can purchase a pet disaster kit and other supplies that you may need.
Pet Planning includes having an emergency kit for each pet:
one kit for each dog
one kit for each cat
If you are interested in a complete list of items to make your own pet evacuation kit, visit our Pet Disaster Kits Page.