Ever wonder what would happen to your pets if there was a disaster?
Pets are often full-fledged family members, so any family emergency plan must include them to be truly complete.
Additions to Your Emergency Kit and Go Bag
- A recent photo of your pets in case they get lost
- Sturdy leashes and/or carriers
- Pet food, water, and bowls
- Cat litter and box
- Pet toys
- Contact information for veterinarian
- Medical information and records
- Any necessary medication
- Plastic bags for clean-up
If You Evacuate, Take Your Pets
The single most important thing you can do to protect your pets if you must evacuate is to take them with you. Even if you think you may be gone for only a few hours, take your animals. Once you leave your home, you have no way of knowing how long you’ll be kept out of the area, and you may not be able to go back for your pets. Transport your pets in carriers or on leashes during an emergency to help them feel more secure.
Do Not Forget ID
Your pets should wear up-to-date identification at all times. It is a good idea to include on the tag the phone number of a friend or relative outside your immediate area.
Find a Safe Place Ahead of Time
Because evacuation shelters generally don’t accept pets except for service animals, you must plan ahead to ensure that your family and pets have a safe place to stay. Don’t wait until disaster strikes to do your research.
- Contact hotels and motels outside your immediate area to check policies on accepting pets.
- Check with friends or relatives outside your immediate area. Ask if they would be able to shelter you and your animals or just your animals. Make a list of boarding facilities and veterinary offices that might be able to shelter animals in emergencies; include 24-hour telephone numbers.
- Ask your local animal shelter if it provides foster care or shelter for pets in an emergency. This should be your last resort, as shelters have limited resources and are likely to be stretched to their limits during an emergency.
If You Don’t Evacuate
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. Keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers, and make sure they are wearing identification. Have any medications and a supply of pet food and water in watertight containers, along with your other emergency supplies.
As the Disaster Approaches
Don’t wait until the last minute to get ready. Bring pets into the house and confine them so you can leave with them quickly if necessary. Make sure your disaster supplies are ready to go, including your pet disaster kit.
In Case You Are Not Home
An evacuation order may come or a disaster may strike while you’re at work or out of the house. Make arrangements in advance for a trusted neighbor to take your pets and their disaster kits and meet you at a specified location.
When You Return Home
Whether you have taken shelter at home or evacuated, your home may be a very different place after a disaster. Don’t allow your pets to roam loose. Familiar landmarks and smells might be gone, and your pet will probably be disoriented. Pets can easily get lost in such situations.
Be patient with your pets after a disaster. Try to get them back into their normal routines as soon as possible, and be ready for behavioral problems that may result from the stress of the situation. If behavioral problems persist, or if your pet seems to be having any health problems, talk to your veterinarian.