Planning for Pets in a Disaster

  • Cat saved by soldiers
Natural and human-caused disasters can strike suddenly. Potential challenges are not limited to people. Our pets are an important part of the family, and should be included in your preparedness plan. With the exception of service animals, pets are not permitted in emergency shelters for health reasons. To ensure your pet's safety in an emergency, implement the following steps:

1. Get a kit,
2. Make a plan, and
3. Be informed.

Our Pets & Disaster Safety Guide will help you learn how to maintain your pet's health, put together a pet first aid kit, give medications, recognize emergencies and administer first aid care.

Get a Kit

Your disaster kit should provide you and every member of your household with the supplies necessary to care for your own needs for a minimum of 72 hours. For pets, these items may include:
  • Food
  • Water
  • Leash
  • Litter box or plastic bags
  • Identification tags
  • Photo of pet
  • Medical records
  • Pet first aid kit
  • Carrier

Make a Plan

Planning ahead is the first step to ensure your pet is taken care of in the event of a disaster.
  • Know which hotels and motels along your evacuation route will accept you and your pets in an emergency. Call ahead for reservations if you know you may need to evacuate. Ask if no-pet policies could be waived in an emergency.
  • Know which friends, relatives, boarding facilities, animal shelters or veterinarians can care for your animals in an emergency.
  • Prepare a list with phone numbers.
  • Although your animals may be more comfortable together, be prepared to house them separately.
  • Include your pets in evacuation drills so that they become used to entering and traveling in their carriers calmly.
  • Make sure that your pet's vaccinations are current and that all dogs and cats are wearing collars with securely fastened, up-to-date identification. Many pet shelters require proof of current vaccinations to reduce the spread of disease.
  • Consider having your pet "micro-chipped" by your veterinarian.

Be Informed

  • Sometimes, warnings are issued hours, even days, in advance. At the first hint of disaster, act to protect your pet. Bring pets inside so you won't have to search for them if you need to leave quickly.
  • The behavior of pets may change dramatically after a disaster, becoming aggressive or defensive, so be aware of their well-being and protect them from hazards to ensure the safety of other people and animals.
  • Consult your veterinarian if any behavior problems persist.