Pet Planning - For Emergencies and Disasters

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: 

  1. A Pet Emergency Plan: Prepare and Practice It.
    Plan Below
  2. Pet Emergency Disaster and Evacuation Kits.
    (Read Our Page)
  3. Knowledge about Pet CPR & Basic First Aid.
    (Read Our Page)

Contents On This Page:

Before An Emergency - Prepare A Pet Emergency Plan


  • Make a list of emergency contact people: ask friends, relatives, or others outside your area whether they could shelter your animals in an emergency.

    If you have more than one pet, they may be more comfortable together; but be prepared in case you have to house them separately.

  • Contact and make a list of pet-friendly hotels and motels (including phone numbers), that are outside your immediate area. When a disaster happens it generally affects all persons and businesses in the same immediate area.

    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.)

  • Prepare a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians who could shelter animals in an emergency. Include 24-hour phone numbers.

  • Make sure all dogs and cats are wearing collars that are securely fastened and have ID tags containing up-to-date information. Attach to the collar or tag the phone number of a friend or relative outside the area in case you must leave your home and become separated from your pet.

  • Do you have a pet carrier? If not, you need to get one for each pet. If you have to leave in a hurry can you put your pet in the carrier? How will they act when you do? You need to practice this before an emergency, while your pet is calm. Practicing is an important part of proper pet planning.

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.

During An Emergency - What To Do For Your Pets

• 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 An Emergency - What To Do For Your Pets

• 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.

If No One Is Home - What To Do For Your Pets

Many pet owners have overlooked the possibility of being displaced from their pets in an emergency. In your pet planning, prepare for what could happen to your pets in that situation.

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:

  1. DO NOT leave them outside, (either tied-up or loose) to fend for themselves. Generally pets are safer inside the protection of a house, than left outside in the elements or exposed to dangers that can arise during a disaster situation.
  2. Try to leave them inside your house with plenty (several days) of dry food in large containers or even poured onto the floor. Also fill several large containers of water, open up your toilet lids, and fill your bathtub with water.
  3. If you do have to leave your pet at home, post stickers or signs on doors that are clearly visible from the outside. Specify what types and the number of animals.

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.

Create A Disaster Kit For Your Pet

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



(Save this Pet Plan for reference and practice)

If you are interested in a complete list of items to make your own pet evacuation kit, visit our Pet Disaster Kits Page.

Important - Pet First Aid and Pet CPR
As a responsible pet owner you should know what to do if you are faced with an emergency disaster, or a every day accident or medical problem with your pet...you may only have moments to respond. Learning Pet First Aid and Pet CPR could help your pet when they need it the most!

Most pet owners have no idea how to give basic medical care, or how to perform pet CPR. You should know these things. In some emergencies you can't always get to the Vet in time, or in a disaster there might not be a Vet available right away.


Additional Pet Planning and Preparedness Guides that you can read, print, or download:
(Adobe Reader required to open Guides: Get Adobe Reader)

Pet Planning and Preparedness:
Preparing Your Pet For Emergencies. (Dept. of Homeland Security)

Disaster Pet Brochure:
Evacuation Planning and Disaster Supply Checklist for Pets (Humane Society)

Disaster Horse Brochure:
Preparedness For Horse Owners (Humane Society of the U.S.)


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