Pet Care and Disasters

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If it’s not safe for human beings, it’s not safe for animals. Pets are more dependent on us than ever during an emergency; with this guide, you’ll be able to prepare, evacuate, and shelter with your animal family.

Gather What You’ll Need and Make a Plan

Before a disaster, all animal families should prepare an evacuation plan, an emergency kit, and first aid kits for you and for your animals. Begin the process by gathering important information: make copies of your pets’ vaccination records and owner contact information, collect info about your local shelters, animal control services, and poison control, and verify that these details are up to date.

A thorough, ready-to-go plan is essential to helping you, your family, and your pets stay safe during an emergency, so make preparations beforehand. Emergency shelters for pets must be provided in case of evacuations, but it’s also a good idea to find out what hotels in your area allow pets. Keep one or more safe locations in mind before the disaster hits, and if there is an alternate location, such as at a family member’s house, try to visit with your animals beforehand.

Put Together an Emergency Kit

  • Food, in a protected container
  • Water
  • Bowls
  • First aid kit
  • Medication, in a protected container
  • Backup collar with tag and backup leash
  • Sturdy carrier
  • Pet brushes and shampoo
  • Picture of yourself and pet to document ownership
  • Sanitation bags
  • Favorite toys, treats, and blankets

Assemble a Pet First Aid Kit

  • Information on pet’s medical status
  • Veterinarian contact info
  • All medical records
  • Digital thermometer
  • Muzzle
  • Gauze for you or your pet
  • Clean towels
  • Non-stick bandages
  • Scissors
  • Disposable Gloves
  • Small flashlight
  • Hydrogen peroxide

All About Shelters

When a disaster arises, shelters for animals are REQUIRED: The PETS Act of 2006 is now part of the Stafford Act, meaning pet-friendly shelters must open whenever an evacuation is in place. These shelters are most frequently organized by local animal control offices or county, or state, animal response teams. When creating your emergency plan, remember to verify that your preferred pet shelter is staffed by qualified animal care personnel with animal handling experience.

  • Be sure to have proof of rabies vaccination .
  • Make time to treat for fleas while at the shelter.
  • Try to keep your animal calm with familiar blankets, toys, and treats.
  • If you think your pet might be sick, talk to a veterinarian.
  • Treat dogs and cats for intestinal parasites while at the shelter – this is especially important for pets under 6 months old.
  • Your animals may be taken to a mobile shelter; not all congregate shelters allow animals inside.

Extra Tips

  • Keep a leash and carrier near the exit.
  • Make sure you have proper equipment for pets to ride in the car (carriers, harnesses, pet seatbelts).
  • Ask your veterinarian for help in putting together your pet’s veterinary records.
  • Please note, a service animal is not a pet, and all shelters must allow service animals pursuant to the Fair Housing Act.

Helpful Links

Check out some of these websites for more info on how you can prepare your pets for an emergency:


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