In an emergency, your pets will be even more dependent on you for their safety and well-being. Your family’s disaster plans must include your furry family members too. Learn what to do to keep your beloved pets safe!
If you stay home, do it safely
If your family and pets must wait out a storm or other disaster at home, identify a safe area of your home where you can all stay together.
Plan for your pet in case you’re not home
In case you’re away during a disaster or evacuation order, make arrangements well in advance for someone you trust to take your pets and meet you at a specified location. Or create a buddy system in case you’re not home during an emergency. Ask a trusted neighbor who can check on your animals and can evacuate your animals if necessary.
If you evacuate, take your pet
Evacuate early. Don’t wait for a mandatory evacuation order. Some people who have waited to be evacuated by emergency officials have been told to leave their pets behind.
Find a safe place to stay ahead of time
Plan where you and your pet will stay in case you need to evacuate your home. Pets may not be allowed in local shelters, unless they are service animals. Many disaster evacuation centers (such as Red Cross evacuation centers) do not accept pets and other animals.
Identify shelters or out-of-town friends or relatives where your pets and other animals can stay.
Locate boarding facilities or animal hospitals near your evacuation shelter and in the case you are unable to return home right away.
Locate a veterinarian or animal hospital in the area where you may be seeking temporary shelter and add the veterinarian’s contact information to your emergency kit.
Contact hotels and motels outside your immediate area to find out if they accept pets. Ask about any restrictions on number, size and species. Inquire if a “no pet” policy would be waived in an emergency.
Practice evacuating your pet
Train your pets to be in their carriers by making it a comfortable place.
Practice transporting your pet by taking them for rides in a vehicle similar to one you would be evacuating in. If you do not have a car, make arrangements with neighbors, family, and friends.
Know where your pet might hide when stressed or scared. Practice catching your pet, if needed.
For cats, you can practice removing your cat from his/her hiding spot and using your cat’s carrier, a pillowcase, a sturdy box — anything to get your cat quickly out of harm’s way.
Have your entire family practice evacuating with your pets so everyone knows what to take, where to find the pets, and where to meet.
Store an emergency kit and leashes as close to an exit as possible. Make sure that everyone in the family knows where it is, and that it is clearly labeled and easy to carry. Items to consider keeping in or near your “Evac-Pack” include:
- Pet first-aid kit
- 3-7 days’ worth of canned (pop-top) or dry food (be sure to rotate every two months)
- Disposable litter trays (aluminum roasting pans are perfect)
- Litter or paper toweling
- Liquid dish soap and disinfectant
- Disposable garbage bags for clean-up
- Pet feeding dishes and water bowls
- Extra collar or harness as well as an extra leash
- Photocopies and/or USB of medical records and a waterproof container with a two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires (Remember, food and medication needs to be rotated out of your emergency kit—otherwise they may go bad or become useless)
- At least seven days worth of bottled water for each person and pet (store in a cool, dry place and replace every two months)
- A traveling bag, crate or sturdy carrier, ideally one for each pet
- Recent photos of your pets (in case you are separated and need to make “Lost” posters)
- Especially for cats: Pillowcase, toys, scoop-able litter
- Especially for dogs: Extra leash, toys and chew toys, a week’s worth of cage liner