It’s important to make an emergency plan for your home to help keep members of your household out of harm’s way. It’s equally important to include your pets in your plans. They are totally dependent on you for their safety and well-being. The American Red Cross has steps you can follow to help keep your furry family members safe during a disaster.
CREATE A PET EMERGENCY PLAN
- Know a safe place to take your pets. Know which hotels and motels along your evacuation route will accept 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.
- Most American Red Cross shelters cannot accept pets because of health and safety concerns and other considerations. Service animals that assist people with disabilities are allowed in Red Cross shelters.
- 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 your pets 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 “microchipped” by your veterinarian.
PET EMERGENCY KIT Place the following items in a sturdy, easy-to-carry container:
- Sturdy leashes, harnesses and/or carriers to transport pets safely and ensure that they can’t escape.
- Food, drinking water, bowls, cat litter/pan and a manual can opener if your pet eats canned food.
- Medications and copies of medical records stored in a waterproof container.
- A first aid kit.
- Current photos of you with your pet(s) in case they get lost. Since many pets look alike, this will help to eliminate mistaken identity and confusion.
- Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to foster or board your pets.
- Pet beds and toys, if easily transportable.
Pet owners can download the Red Cross Pet First Aid app for more information on how to include pets in emergency preparedness plans. The app also features step-by-step instructions for first aid emergencies, a pet profile for storing tag ID, photo and medical information, early warning signs for when to contact a veterinarian and an animal hospital locator. Users can find it in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross, texting GETPET to 90999 for a link to download the app or going to redcross.org/apps.
You can also take the Red Cross Cat and Dog First Aid online course so you’ll know what to do in an emergency until veterinary care is available. People can access the course on their desktop or tablet at redcross.org/catdogfirstaid and go through the content at their own pace. The interactive course includes:
- How to determine a pet’s normal vital signs so owners can notice if there are any irregularities;
- Step-by-step instructions and visual aids for what to do if a pet is choking, needs CPR, has a wound, or is having a seizure; and
- Information on preventative care, health and tips for a pet’s well-being
Prepare now so all household members will know what to do and where to go if a disaster occurs.