Pets and Large Animal Care 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.
- Know what
disasters could affect your area, which could call for an evacuation and
when to shelter in place.
a NOAA Weather Radio tuned to your
local emergency station and monitor TV, radio, and follow mobile alert and
mobile warnings about severe weather in your area.
the FEMA app, receive weather alerts from the National Weather Service
for up to five different locations anywhere in the United States.
Make A Plan
Remember, during a
disaster what’s good for you is good for your pet, so get them ready today.
If you leave your pets behind, they may be
lost, injured – or worse. Never leave a pet chained outdoors. Plan options
a buddy system in case you’re not home. Ask a trusted neighbor to check on
shelters. For public health reasons, many emergency shelters cannot accept
pet friendly hotels along your evacuation route and keep a list
in your pet’s emergency kit.
boarding facilities or animal hospitals near your evacuation shelter.
an out-of-town friend or relative
a veterinarian or animal hospital in the area where you may be seeking
temporary shelter, in case your pet needs medical care. Add the contact
information to your emergency kit.
your pet microchipped and make sure that you not only keep your address
and phone number up-to-date, but that you also include contact info for an
emergency contact outside of
your immediate area.
your local emergency management office, animal shelter or animal control
office to get advice and information.
you are unable to return to your home right away, you may need to board
your pet. Find out where pet boarding facilities are located.
boarding kennels, veterinarians and animal shelters will need your pet's
medical records to make sure all vaccinations are current.
you have no alternative but to leave your pet at home, there are some
precautions you must take, but remember that leaving your pet at home
alone can place your animal in great danger!
Build a Supply Kit
These basic survival items can keep your pet happy and comfortable. Start with this list, or download Preparing Makes Sense for Pet Owners-Emergency Preparedness Pet Kit List (PDF) to find out exactly what items your pet needs to be Ready.
- Food. A three to seven day supply in
an airtight, waterproof container or canned food with a manual can opener.
- Water. A three to seven day of
water specifically for your pets. Collapsible water dish.
- Medicines and medical records. Veterinary
- Important documents. Registration
information, adoption papers and vaccination documents. Talk to your
veterinarian about microchipping and enrolling your pet in a recovery
- First aid kit. Cotton
bandage rolls, bandage tape and scissors; antibiotic ointment; flea and
tick prevention; latex gloves, isopropyl alcohol and saline solution.
Including a pet first aid reference book is a good idea too.
- Collar or harness with ID tag, rabies tag and a
leash. Include your contact information.
- Crate or pet carrier. Have a
sturdy, safe crate or carrier in case you need to evacuate. The carrier
should be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around and lie down.
- Sanitation. Pet
litter and litter box if appropriate, newspapers, paper towels, plastic
trash bags and household chlorine bleach.
- A picture of you and your pet
together. If you become separated, a picture of you and your
pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist
you. Add species, breed, age, sex, color and distinguishing
characteristics. If possible, attach the address and/or phone number
of your evacuation site. If your pet gets lost, his tag is his ticket home.
- Familiar items. Familiar
items, such as treats, toys and bedding can help reduce stress for your
supplies for your pet. Do you
have a bird, reptile, small animal or fish? What do they need?
Tips for Large Animals
If you have large
animals such as horses, cattle, sheep, goats or pigs on your property, be sure
to prepare before a disaster.
- Ensure all animals have some form of identification.
- Evacuate animals whenever possible. Map out primary and
secondary routes in advance.
- Make available vehicles and trailers needed for
transporting and supporting each type of animal. Also make available
experienced handlers and drivers.
- Ensure destinations have food, water, veterinary care
and handling equipment.
- If evacuation is not possible, animal owners must
decide whether to move large animals to shelter or turn them outside.
Take extra time to
observe livestock, looking for early signs of disease and injury. Severe
cold-weather injuries or death primarily occur in the very young or in animals
that are already debilitated.
Animals suffering from
frostbite don’t exhibit pain. It may be up to two weeks before the injury
becomes evident as the damaged tissue starts to slough away. At that point, the
injury should be treated as an open wound and a veterinarian should be
Make sure your
livestock has the following to help prevent cold-weather problems:
- Plenty of dry bedding to insulate vulnerable udders,
genitals and legs from the frozen ground and frigid winds
- Windbreaks to keep animals safe from frigid conditions
- Plenty of food and water