Animal Safety Plan: Preparing Pets For Evacuation

The best way to protect your family from the effects of a disaster is to have a disaster plan. If you are a pet owner, that plan must include your pets. Being prepared can save their lives.

If you must evacuate, make sure you find a safe shelter for your pets. Pets left behind can become injured, lost or ill. So, prepare now for the day when you and your pets may have to leave your home. (This list was modified from the Humane Society of the United States in cooperation with the American Red Cross.)

Before the Disaster

Don't forget your pet when preparing a family disaster plan. Assemble a portable pet disaster supplies kit. Keep items in an accessible place and store them in sturdy containers that can be easily carried. Your pet disaster supplies kit should include:

  • Medications, immunization records and a first aid kit.
  • Sturdy leashes, muzzles, harnesses, carriers or cages to transport pets safely.
  • Current photos of your pets in case they get lost.
  • Food, drinking water, bowls, cat litter/pan and can opener.
  • Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems and the name and number of your veterinarian.
  • Pet beds and toys, if easily transportable.

Have a Safe Place To Take Your Pets

Disaster shelters cannot accept pets because of health and safety regulations and other considerations. The only animals allowed in shelters are service animals that assist people with disabilities. Research your sheltering options before a disaster strikes.

  • Contact hotels and motels outside your immediate area to check policies on accepting pets.
  • Ask friends, relatives or others outside your area whether they could shelter your animals in an emergency.
  • Prepare a list of animal shelters, boarding facilities and veterinarians who could shelter animals in an emergency.

During the Disaster

  • Call ahead to confirm emergency shelter arrangements for you and your pets.
  • Check to be sure your pet disaster supplies are ready to take at a moment's notice.
  • Bring all pets into the house so you won't have to search for them if you have to leave in a hurry.
  • Make sure all dogs and cats are wearing collars and up-to-date identification tags.

After the Disaster

  • Walk pets on a leash until they become re-oriented to their home - often familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and pets could easily be confused and become lost. Also, downed power lines, reptiles brought in with high water and debris can all pose a threat for animals after a disaster.
  • If pets cannot be found after a disaster, contact the local animal control office to find out where lost animals can be reclaimed. Bring along a picture of your pet if possible.
  • After a disaster, animals can become aggressive or defensive - monitor their behavior.

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