Your pets are important members of your family and they depend on you for their safety and well-being. Being prepared with a disaster plan that includes your pets can reduce stress, and even save their lives during an unexpected emergency.
Whether you decide to stay at home, or if you need to evacuate to a safe location, knowing in advance how you will care for your pets will provide peace of mind during a potentially chaotic time. The following steps can aid you in your preparation:
1. Assemble a Portable Pet Emergency Kit
Gather up pet emergency supplies and put them in an airtight, sturdy, waterproof container—preferably one with handles. Your kit should include:
- ID for your pet. Make sure your pet has a secure collar with up-to-date ID and rabies tags. Often times in a disaster, the pet will survive, but can become separated from their family. Having a microchip implanted is also very inexpensive and cannot be lost or forgotten. If your pet is already microchipped, take a moment and check with the company to make sure all of your contact information is up to date.
- Three days supply of pet food, several days’ worth of drinking water specifically for your pet, along with bowls, a manual can opener, and a spoon.
- Sturdy leashes and harnesses and/or carriers to transport pets safely. Having a crate to transport your pet can keep them safe and secure, and also increase their housing options. If appropriate for your pet, include a soft muzzle. Injured or frightened pets may be more likely to bite.
- Back up supply of medications that your pet takes on a regular basis, and copies of medical records stored in waterproof containers. Include a written list of all medications, feeding schedules, behavioral concerns as well as the name and number of your veterinarian.
- A first aid kit. Talk to your veterinarian ahead of time about what items would be most helpful for your particular pet’s needs. Most kits should include cotton bandage rolls, bandage tape and scissors, antibiotic ointment, flea and tick prevention, isopropyl alcohol, gloves for you, and a pet first aid reference book.
- Photos of you and your pet together in case you get separated. This will help document you as the owner. Keep detailed information on the breed of your pet, age, color, and identifying markings.
- Pet beds, toys and comfort items if appropriate.
- Sanitation items including pet litter, and a litter box if you have cats; plastic bags, baby wipes, newspaper and paper towels.
2. Identify Your Pet Evacuation Plan
Plan to take your pets with you in an evacuation if at all possible. If it is not safe for you to stay, it is not safe for your pets. Most emergency shelters will not allow pets due to health and safety concerns.
- Research ahead of time which hotels or motels will accept you and your pets.
- Consider developing a buddy system with neighbors, friends or relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for your pets if you are unable to do so.
- Boarding facilities or a kennel might be another option. Research and visit these places ahead of time, so that if an emergency happens, you are familiar with the place and their requirements.
Boarding facilities, border guards, and some hotels will require documentation showing your pets’ vaccines are current. If they are not up to date, consider having your pet microchipped by your veterinarian during the same visit.
For more information…
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (in cooperation with the American Kennel Club, the ASPCA, the American Veterinary Association and the Humane Society of the United States) has put together a free emergency preparedness brochure for pet owners that you can access here: