For many, pets are more than just animals – they are a part of the family. As members of your family, they should be included in your emergency planning process. Make sure your disaster plan addresses what you will do when an emergency requires you to leave your home, leave your pet at home, or prevents you from returning home. A few simple steps to ensure your pet’s safety can go a long way when disaster strikes.
Evacuating With Your Pet
Think about where you will go with your pet and how you will get there if you have to leave home during an emergency. Plan to shelter your pet at a kennel or with friends or relatives outside the evacuation area. In planning for an emergency evacuation:
Arrange for family or friends outside of the affected area to shelter your pet.
Identify animal-friendly hotels/motels outside of the affected area.
Talk with your local veterinarian, boarding kennel, or grooming facility to see if they can offer safe shelter for your pet during an emergency.
Practice evacuation plans to familiarize your pet with the process and increase his/her comfort level.
Know your pet's hiding places so you can easily find him/her during an emergency.
Keep in mind a stressed pet may behave differently than normal and his/her aggression level may increase. Use a muzzle to prevent bites. Also be advised that panicked pets may try to flee.
Create a Go Bag for your pet or service animal — a collection of items your pet may need in case of an evacuation. Discuss your pet's Go Bag with your local veterinarian to see if there are any special items that you should include.
Pet Go Bag Checklist
A current color photograph of you and your pet together (in case you are separated)
Copies of medical records that indicate dates of vaccinations and a list of medications your pet takes and why he or she takes them
Proof of identification and ownership, including copies of registration information, adoption papers, proof of purchase, and microchip information
Physical description of your pet, including his/her species, breed, age, sex, color, distinguishing traits, and any other vital information about characteristics and behavior
Animal first-aid kit, including flea and tick treatment and other items recommended by your veterinarian
Food and water for at least three days
Food and water dishes
Collapsible cage or carrier
Muzzle and sturdy leash
Cotton sheet to place over the carrier to help keep your pet calm
Comforting toys or treats
Litter, litter pan, litter scoop
Plastic bags for clean-up
If You Are Unable to Get Home to Your Pet
Some emergencies may prevent you from returning home. In planning for such emergencies:
Identify a trusted friend, neighbor, or dog-walker to care for your pet in your absence. This person should have a set of your house keys, be familiar with your home and pet, know your emergency plan, and have your contact information.
Put stickers on the main entrances to your home to alert rescue workers of the number and types of pets inside. Update the information on the stickers every six months. Free Rescue Alert stickers can be ordered from the ASPCA.
Keep a collar/harness, leash, and your pet's Go Bag in a place where it can be easily found.