Everyone can benefit from having a household evacuation plan in place. A plan is the best way to protect your family in case of disaster, whether it is a large-scale natural catastrophe or an emergency that causes you to leave your home temporarily. Every disaster plan MUST include your companion animals! Post this page in a visible and accessible place and make sure every member of your family is familiar with the plan.
Keep up-to-date identification on your dog or cat at all times. Make sure the collar is properly fitted (avoid chain link collars for dogs and use break-away collars for cats). It’s a good idea to have a friend’s or family member’s phone number on your pet’s identification tag in case you cannot be contacted.
Have current color photographs of your pet, showing any distinguishing markings, located with your emergency supplies. If you and your pet become separated, these photographs will help identify him/her.
If you know disaster is imminent, bring your pets inside immediately! Get your animals under control as quickly as possible, either on leash or inside a carrier. Disasters often strike suddenly, while you are away from home. You can improve your pet’s chances for safety if you leave him/her inside, with collars and identification tags, when you go out. Consider an arrangement with a neighbor who would be willing to evacuate your pet in your absence. Make sure that person knows your animals, can locate your emergency supplies, and has a key to your house. Provide him or her with instructions and phone numbers.
If you Evacuate, Take your Pet!
Your animal’s best protection is to be with you. But remember, taking your pet requires special planning, so follow these steps:
- Locate a safe place for your pets before disaster strikes. Evacuation shelters generally don’t accept animals.
- Call hotels and motels in your immediate area and a reasonable distance from your home. Ask whether they accept pets, under what conditions, and whether there are restrictions as to the size or number of animals.
- Call local boarding kennels and veterinarians with boarding facilities. Ask about the ability to house animals in case of emergency and/or disaster.
- Ask friends or family members whether they will provide foster care for your pets.
NOTE: Some animal shelters will provide temporary foster care for owned pets in times of disaster, but this should be considered only as a last resort.
Disaster Pet Supplies
- Portable carrier (essential for cats)
- Food/water bowls
- Supply of your pet’s food and water in plastic bottles
- Cat litter and litter boxes
- Supply of your pet’s regular medications
- First aid kit
- Health records, including vaccination records
- Instructions on your pet’s feeding schedules and diet, medications, and any special needs
If you Must Leave your Pet Behind
Leaving your pet at home alone will place your animal at greater risk for injury or loss, so make every effort to take your pet with you. If you have no alternative but to leave your pet behind, there are some precautions you must take.
- Give your pet access to a safe, secure room without windows, but with adequate ventilation, such as a bathroom.
- Leave enough food for at least three days (ask your veterinarian ahead of time what’s best for your pet).
- A sufficient supply of water is critical. One animal can easily drink several gallons of water a day when stressed. Place water in containers that aren’t easily knocked over, and leave a faucet dripping into a bathtub or sink with an open drain. If you expect flooding, provide access to elevated spaces or counters.
- Leave familiar bedding and safe toys.
- Don’t confine dogs and cats in the same space.
- Keep small animals and birds safely caged.
- Make sure your pets are wearing proper identification (a collar and tag).
- Place a notice on your front door advising what pets are in the house and where they are located. Provide a telephone number where you or a contact can be reached, as well as the name and number of your vet.
- If you have a bird, leave food in dispensers that regulate the amount of food, and supply extra water. Birds must eat daily to survive. Secure cages so they won’t swing or fall. Cover the cage with a thin cloth or sheet to provide security and filtered light.
- Never leave a dog tied outside!