Keeping Your Pets Safe During a Disaster

Disasters can happen with little or no warning, so when preparing for these events, it is imperative have a plan for your pets, as they will be even more dependent on you for their safety and well-being.

Remember, if it’s not safe for you to stay in your home during an emergency, it’s not safe for your pets either!  DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND.

Have a plan: Evacuation

Have an evacuation plan for you and your pets.  Know which hotels, friends, relatives, boarding facilities, animal shelters or veterinarians can care for your animals in an emergency.  Prepare a list with phone numbers.

Hotels / motels: Research 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.

Shelters: Know which emergency shelters will accept pets ahead of time.  While local shelters may allow pets, most American Red Cross shelters will not accept pets because of health and safety concerns and other considerations. Service animals that assist people with disabilities are allowed in Red Cross shelters.

Friends / relatives: Confirm your pets will be safe and welcome and not subject to situations of Breed Specific Legislation area or breed restrictive associations; or situations were pets are permitted, etc.)


When stocking supplies for emergencies, include supplies for your pet/s in your emergency kit, or assemble an emergency kit for your pet/s.   Store items in sturdy containers and keep in an accessible place, so they can be easily retrieved when time to evacuate.

Your pet’s supply emergency kit should include:

  • 3-7 days’ worth of canned food or dry food
  • A two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires in a waterproof container

(Food and medications need to be rotated out of your emergency kit, otherwise they may go bad)

  • At least seven days’ worth of bottled water for each pet (store in a cool, dry place and replace every two months)
  • Pet feeding dishes and water bowls
  • Manual can opener for canned food
  • Disposable litter trays (aluminum roasting pans work well)
  • Litter or paper toweling
  • Liquid dish soap and disinfectant
  • Disposable garbage bags for clean-up
  • Extra collar or harness as well as an extra leash
  • Photocopies and/or USB of medical records
  • Pet beds and toys, if easily transportable.
  • Carriers to transport pets safely and ensure frightened pets can’t escape.

Pet Identification

While it is always imperative that your pet has some kind of identification should s/he ever get separated from you, it is even more crucial during times of disaster.

  • Make sure your pet/s wear collars and tags with up-to-date contact information.
  • Microchip your pet/s: This is the best way to ensure you are reunited if you are separated from your pets.   Be sure to register the microchip with the manufacturer and keep your contact information up to date with the microchip company.
  • 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.

Remember, when faced with a disaster, your pet’s behavior may change dramatically both before and after.  Be aware of their well-being and pay extra close attention to avoid possible escapes or and protect them from potential hazards.  They are trusting you for their safety and well-being during times that are extra stressful and frightening for them.

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