Caring for Animals During a Disaster

If you are like millions of animal owners nationwide, your pet is an important member of your household. Unfortunately, animals are also affected by disaster. The likelihood that you and your animals will survive an emergency such as a fire or flood, tornado or terrorist attack depends largely on emergency planning done today. Some of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected, such as assembling an animal emergency supply kit and developing a pet care buddy system, are the same for any emergency. Whether you decide to stay put in an emergency or evacuate to a safer location, you will need to make plans in advance for your pets. Keep in mind that what's best for you is typically what's best for your animals.

Identifying shelter. For public health reasons, many emergency shelters cannot accept pets. Find out which motels and hotels in the area you plan to evacuate to allow pets well in advance of needing them. There are also a number of guides that list hotels/motels that permit pets and could serve as a starting point. Include your local animal shelter's number in your list of emergency numbers. They might be able to provide information concerning pets during a disaster. Before you find yourself in an emergency situation, consider packing a "pet survival" kit which could be easily deployed if disaster hits.

Start with a back pack, gym bag or 5 gallon bucket and include the following items:

  • Water and food, dishes, enough for 3-7 days.
  • Medications, veterinary records, cat litter/pan, manual can opener, food dishes
  • Blanket or towel for a bed.
  • A favorite toy and some treats.
  • For a dog, a leash and collar.
  • For a cat, a collapsible cat carrier, litter and litter box.
  • Small plastic bags for pet messes. 
  • Plastic bag with pet immunization records
  • Current photo of your pet for identification purposes.
  • Have a First aid kit and other supplies with you in case they're not available later
  • Make sure identification tags are up-to-date and securely fastened to your pet's collar.
  • Specific supplies for your pet. Do you have a bird, reptile, small animal or fish? What do they need?
  • If possible, attach the address and/or phone number of your evacuation site. If your pet gets lost, his tag is his ticket home.

Make sure you have a secure pet carrier, leash or harness for your pet so that if he panics, he can't escape.
Pre-assembled kits can be purchased online or at better pet retailers.  
For more information go to: Pet and Animal Emergency Planning

Keeping pets healthy requires teamwork.
As a pet owner, you can partner with your veterinarian to help your pet live the happiest, healthiest life possible.
For more helpful resources go to: http://www.petweek.org/pet-owners.html