Disaster Preparedness – Pet Preparations

FEMA Pet Shelter in Minot, ND [2]

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.

Leaving pets out of evacuation plans can put pets, pet owners, and first responders in danger. Even if you try to create a safe place for them, pets left behind during a disaster are likely to be injured, lost, or worse.  It is your responsibility as a pet owner to find out what type of shelters and assistance are available in your area to accommodate pets and to include pets in your disaster plan to keep them safe during an emergency.[1]

Disaster Preparedness Tips for Pets

Here are some additional things (in addition to a basic plan) people with disabilities can do to help successfully pull through an emergency situation:[3] [4] [5]

Along with a human emergency supplies kit, assemble an emergency supplies and traveling kit for your pets (ask your vet what to include). Make sure that everyone in the family knows where it is and it should be easy to carry. Items to consider keeping in or near your pack include:

  • Current photo of your pet for identification purposes
  • Veterinary records and a waterproof container with a two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires (Remember, food and medications need to be rotated out of your emergency kit—otherwise they may go bad or become useless.)
  • Make sure identification tags are up-to-date and securely fastened to your pet's collar. If possible, attach the address and/or phone number of your evacuation site. If your pet gets lost, his tag is his ticket home.
  • Pet first-aid kit
  • A traveling bag, crate or sturdy carrier, ideally one for each pet
  • 3-7 days' worth of canned (pop-top) or dry food (be sure to rotate every two months) and feeding dishes
  • Bottled water, at least 7 days' worth for each person and pet (store in a cool, dry place and replace every two months)
  • Litter or paper toweling, disposable litter trays
  • Liquid dish soap and disinfectant
  • Disposable garbage bags for clean-up
  • Extra collar or harness as well as an extra leash
  • Flashlight
  • Blanket

If you evacuate your home, do not leave your pets behind! Pets most likely cannot survive on their own and if by some remote chance they do, you may not be able to find them when you return.

If you are going to a public shelter, it is important to understand that animals may not be allowed inside. Plan in advance for shelter alternatives that will work for both you and your pets; consider loved ones or friends outside of your immediate area who would be willing to host you and your pets in an emergency.

Make a back-up emergency plan in case you can't care for your animals yourself. Develop a buddy system with neighbors, friends and relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so. Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to make it on your own for at least three days, maybe longer.

For public health reasons, many emergency shelters cannot accept pets and not all Red Cross shelters can accept pets. Thus, it is imperative that you have determined where you will bring your pets ahead of time:

  • Avoid wild or stray animals.
  • Protect yourself from mosquitoes by using insect repellents that contain DEET or Picaridin.
  • To avoid attracting rodents, remove potential sources of food, water, and shelter such as garbage, dirty dishes, and debris.
  • Be aware of snakes that may be swimming in the water to get to higher ground and those that may be hiding under debris or other objects.


Disaster Preparedness Resources for Pets



  1. CDC – Disaster Preparedness for Your Pet: http://www.cdc.gov/features/Petsanddisasters/
  2. Image Source: http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/images/59617 [Accessed: April 25, 2014]
  3. Ready.gov – Caring for Animals: http://www.ready.gov/caring-animals
  4. Ready.gov – Pet and Animal Emergency Planning: https://www.ready.gov/animals
  5. CDC – Protect Yourself from Animal- and Insect-Related Hazards After a Disaster: http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/animalhazards/facts.asp