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.
Different disasters require different responses, but whether the disaster is a flood or a hazardous spill, you may have to evacuate your home. If you must evacuate, the most important thing you can do to protect your pets is to evacuate them, too. Leaving pets behind, even if you try to create a safe place for them, is likely to result in their being injured, lost or worse. So prepare now for the day when you and your pets may have to leave your home.
Red Cross disaster shelters cannot accept pets because of states’ health and safety regulations and other considerations. Service animals that assist people with disabilities are the only animals allowed in Red Cross shelters. It may be difficult, if not impossible, to find shelter for your animals in the midst of a disaster, so plan ahead. Do not wait until disaster strikes to do your research.
Have an Emergency Pet Care Plan
- If you evacuate, take your pet with you. Most emergency shelters do not allow animals, so have a plan for your pet. Safe places to take your pet may include homes of friends or relatives, pet friendly hotels, pet kennels or veterinary facilities. Prepare a list of contact numbers in advance. Contact your local animal control facility for information in your area.
- Choose a designated care giver, such as a neighbor, friend or relative to care for your pet in the event that you are unable to do so.
- Affix a Rescue Alert Sticker to the front of your residence. The sticker should include the types and number of pets in your house and veterinarian information.
- Ensure that your pet wears a collar with a rabies tag at all times. Consult your veterinarian about permanent identification, such as microchipping, or registration with a pet recovery database.
Assemble a Pet Emergency Kit Including:
- Leash, harness and / or Pet carrier
- 1-Week supply of food and water with bowls
- Medications and pet first aid kit
- Copies of vaccination, medical records and a photo of you and your pet (for identification) in a waterproof container
- Plastic bags, disinfectants, paper towels and for cats, a litter box
- Blankets, toys and treats
- Prepare a Pet Disaster Supply Kit Sources
Assemble a Pet Emergency Preparedness Kit: The American Red Cross shares a checklist of items to include in a pet emergency preparedness kit.
ESP Focus: Make Disaster Kits (PDF): The Emergency Survival Program (ESP) shares how to make a disaster kit for yourself and your pets.
Pets and Disasters: Prepare or Get a Pet Emergency Supply Kit: A pet emergency kit should have food, water, medicine, an ID tag, carrier, and sanitation items.
How to Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit (PDF): A document that explains the necessary steps for assembling a disaster supplies kit for the family and pets.
Why Prepare an Emergency Supplies Kit? (PDF): Pet owners should not abandon their pets during times of an emergency. Instead, they should create a plan of action and emergency supplies kit to ensure the safety of their animal friends.
Disaster Supplies: For Dogs: Red Rover shares an emergency supply kit specifically for dogs, which includes food, water, sanitation products, transportation, housing, and means for identification.
Disaster Preparedness Guidelines: Emergency Supply Kit: The Animal Rescue Foundation states that an emergency supply kit should include everything your pet needs for at least one week.
Be Prepared for Disasters: Emergency Supply Kits: Be sure to pack your emergency supply kits with enough supplies to keep your pet alive for at least one week.
Including Your Pet In Disaster Preparedness: The Oregon Humane Society encourages owners to keep an emergency supply kit when preparing for a disaster.
Protecting Your Pets in a Disaster (PDF): Learn about the essential items to include in an emergency supply kit for pets.
During an Emergency
- Keep your pets on hand at the first sign of an emergency. Don’t allow your pets to roam loose following a disaster.
- Call ahead to make arrangements for boarding your pet outside the danger area.
- Keep your pet emergency kit close at hand.
Make a Plan
- Disaster Preparedness for Your Pet: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) specifies the steps to take to create a disaster preparedness plan and kit in the event a natural disaster takes place.
- Make a Disaster Plan for Your Pets: The Humane Society shares a to-do list for disaster preparedness for your pets.
- Will Your Animal Companions Be Protected in a Disaster?: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) shares the appropriate steps to take before, during, and after a disaster strikes.
- Disaster Preparedness: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) shares the appropriate steps for safeguarding pets during times of an emergency.
- Caring for Pets: Ready.gov shares guidelines for taking care of pets before, during, and after an emergency that requires evacuation.
- Disaster Preparedness for Pets: The Roanoke SPCA shares the important steps for creating a disaster preparedness plan for pets, including assembling a portable shelter, planning ahead for a safe place to bring pets, and what to do if you do not evacuate during a national disaster.
- Saving the Whole Family (PDF): An extensive document that outlines the steps for preparing a plan, including identification, transportation, proof of ownership, and contact information.
- Pet Emergency Plan and Supply Kit (PDF): A disaster preparedness checklist for pet owners.
- Disaster Preparedness: Protecting Your Pet: Prepare for the worst to keep your pets safe for when it actually occurs.
- Disaster Preparation: Before Disaster Strikes: Make a plan before disaster strikes to save your little furry friends.
Protect Your Pet
- What Can I Do to Protect My Horses and Livestock During a Natural Disaster?: Implement a disaster and recovery plan to protect your horses and livestock during and after a natural disaster.
- Simple Steps Can Protect Pets in Weather Disasters: Three easy steps can protect your pet during a natural disaster, including staying with your pet, IDing your pet, and finding shelter.
- Natural Disasters and Your Pets: Follow the Humane Society’s suggestions for protecting your pet during a natural disaster.
- In Case of a Disaster… Protect Your Pets!: Read this article on protecting your pets during a natural disaster.
- Tips for Protecting your Pet from Hot Weather: Follow these simple tips to protect your pets in extreme heat conditions.
Animal and Insect Related Hazards
- Protect Yourself from Animal and Insect-Related Hazards After a Natural Disaster (PDF): Learn how to protect yourself and your pets from wild animals and insects after a natural disaster.
- Protect Yourself from Animal and Insect-Related Health Hazards After Flooding (PDF): Flooding attracts wild animals, vermin, and insects that could be a health-risk for those who are unprepared.
- Preventing Illness After a Natural Disaster: Protect Yourself from Animal and Insect-Related Hazards (PDF): Avoid wild animals, wear insect repellant, and contact animal services to handle dead animals after a natural disaster.
- How to Protect Yourself from Animal and Insect-Related Hazards After a Natural Disaster: The aftermath of a natural disaster attracts wild animals and insects that pose serious illness to those who get infected. Protect yourself using the suggestions provided by Medicinenet.
- Protect Yourself from Animal and Insect-Related Hazards After a Natural Disaster Occurs (PDF): Exercise extreme caution around wildlife, insects, and vermin during the aftermath of a natural disaster.
Pet Friendly Shelters/Hotels
- Listing available at shelter information check points
- Petswelcome.com: Listing of Hotels that Allow Pets
For more detailed information, visit the following resource web sites:
- Waupaca County Humane Society
- Community Animal Response and Evacuation Group
- FEMA Pet Preparedness
- ASPCA Disaster Preparedness
- Humane Society Disaster Preparedness
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Protecting Pets in an Emergency
- US Search and Rescue Task Force
- Visit ReadyWisconsin for more information on Pet preparedness