It doesn't matter what part of the country you live in. We can all be affected by disasters - whether it's a natural disaster, wildfire, terrorist attack, or hazardous spill. Such emergencies may require a brief or permanent evacuation from your home. This guide will help you navigate through how to prepare for your pet in case disaster strikes.
If you must evacuate, always bring your pets with you. If it's not safe for you to be in your home, then it's not safe for your pets. The best thing you can do to ensure the safety and well being of your pets is to be prepared.
Evacuation Plan Checklist
- Find a Safe Place to Stay - This could be a shelter, the home of a friend or family member, or a pet friendly hotel outside your immediate area. Planning ahead means:
- Locate pet friendly hotels outside of your area ahead of time. Be sure to print out the list of accommodations in various cities and keep it with your pet evacuation & disaster kit. Utilizing our Search By Route feature will help you map out appropriate pet friendly hotels and lodging. Simply enter the departure and destination cities and a list of all the pet friendly hotels (and other pet friendly properties) within a 3 or 5 mile radius of the route are returned.
- Contact local shelters to determine their policies in regards to pets. Most shelters do not accept family pets, and those that do have limits on the number of pets permitted.
- Compile a list of animal shelters, boarding facilities, and veterinarians that may provide safe shelter for your pets in an emergency.
- Identify Evacuation Zone and Route - Determine the evacuation zone you are in so you'll know when you have to evacuate. Evacuate to the safest location that's as close to your home as possible. Traveling with a pet can sometimes slow you down a bit, so be sure to leave early to give yourself the extra travel time.
- Pet Identification Tags - Attach a pet temporary ID tag to your pet's collar and include the address and phone number of your temporary shelter. If your pets are traveling in a carrier, be sure to secure similar identification onto the travel carrier.
- Line-up Caregiver in your Absence - In the event a disaster strikes or an evacuation order comes while you're away from home, line-up a trusted caregiver to look after your pets. Consider someone who lives or works close to your home. Be sure the caregiver is comfortable with your pets, knows the location of your pet evacuation & disaster kit, and has keys to your house.
- Pet Rescue Alert Window Decal - Every home should be equipped with an emergency pet rescue alert window decal at all times. It is a safety measure for everyday emergencies as well as disasters. If a disaster strikes when you're not home and your caregiver is unable to reach your pets, this decal will alert rescue workers that pets are inside your home. If you and your pets must evacuate (and time permits) write "Evacuated" across the decal. Be sure it is visible to rescue workers, and that it includes the types and number of pets in your household. To get a pet rescue alert window decal for your home, click here.
- Pet Evacuation & Disaster Kit - Your pet's disaster kit should contain everything your pets needs to survive and be as comfortable as possible until the danger passes. All of the items in the kit should be stored in a sturdy, waterproof carrier, that's easy to carry. Keep your kit accessible so that it can be retrieved quickly. Your kit should include:
- Listing of pet friendly lodging
- Listing of shelters, boarding facilities and vets that may provide safe shelter for your pets
- Food for a minimum of three days for each pet - kept in an airtight container. If you have canned food, include a manual can opener. Be aware of freshness dates for food and rotate out accordingly.
- Bottled water for a minimum of seven days for each pet
- Pet travel bowls
- Pet bedding and favorite toys
- Pet first aid kit
- A two week supply of medications that your pets require. Be aware of the usefulness dates of medication and rotate out as necessary.
- Photocopies of medical records inside a waterproof container
- Litter and litter box
- Disposable bags for pet waste
- Extra harness and leash as well as a pet travel carrier. Be sure that the harness and leash are sturdy and durable and that the carrier is secure so that your pets are safe and can not escape. The proper size carrier for your pet should be one that allows them to comfortably stand, turnaround and lie down.
- Current photos and description of your pets. If you become separated from your pets, this will help others identify them.
- Pet information sheet. This should include the name and address of your pet's vet, information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, and behavioral issues. You must be prepared if you must temporarily leave your pets in someone else's care.
- Additional helpful items include flashlight, blanket, yard stake and long leash, newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags, grooming items, and household bleach.
If you do not evacuate.
The nature of the disaster will determine the safest area of your home where you can wait out the disaster. Be sure to have your pet evacuation & disaster kit close at hand, along with other emergency supplies. Ensure that your pets are wearing their ID tags. Have them either on a leash or in a carrier.
Remember, don't wait until the last minute to prepare as many disasters come without warning.
National Hurricane Center
The Weather Channel
American Red Cross
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Department of Homeland Security