Disaster Preparedness

Do not wait until it is too late! With a little advanced planning, you can save yourself and your pet in a disaster!


Plan Ahead. In the event of an evacuation, pets may not be allowed inside human emergency shelters. Always take your pet with you when evacuated if at all possible. Even if you are told that the evacuation will be for a short time only, unforeseen circumstances can change a short time into days or weeks. Determine the best place to leave your pet when you evacuate. Identify near-by facilities as well as boarding facilities and pet-friendly motels many miles away or in a neighboring town. Familiarize yourself with each type of disaster that your area could be affected by, including a hazardous materials spill.

Identification. Dogs and cats should always wear properly fitting collars, personal identification and rabies tags. Make sure all the information on the tags is current. Keep a current photo of each pet with you in the picture also. Make sure any distinguishing markings are visible. Keep an extra copy of the photographs with a friend or relative out of town. Tattoo’s and microchip’s are also good forms of identification. You will need proof of ownership to retrieve your pet from a shelter.

Disaster Kit. Prepare a disaster supply kit for each of your pets. A list of suggestions are provided at the end. Your kit should be readily accessible and you should check it at least monthly to keep the supplies up to date.

Paperwork And Records. Store important documents in a waterproof plastic bag. These should include current vaccination and medical records. Also include a list of important emergency contacts such as your veterinarian, local animal control, boarding facility, pet-friendly motels, and local Red Cross Chapter.

Transportation. Each animal should have their own pet carrier. Familiarize your pet with the carrier or cage BEFORE an emergency. Keep a leash handy for each dog and cat in your home.

In Case You Are Not At Home. Designate a trusted neighbor to tend to your animals. Make sure this person has access to your home, is familiar with your animals, knows your evacuation procedures and knows where your evacuation supplies are kept. Exchange veterinary information and file a permission slip with your veterinarian authorizing them to get emergency treatment for your pet if you can’t be located.


Evacuate your family, including your animals as early as possible. By leaving early, you will decrease the chance of becoming victims of the disaster. Take your disaster preparedness kit, including the pet’s vaccination and medical records and photos with you.

Be aware of changing conditions. Monitor your television or radio for information. If a tornado watch or flood watch has been issued for your area, start gathering and preparing your pets immediately. This will save valuable time should you be forced to seek shelter or evacuate.


Pet behavior may change after an emergency. Monitor your pets closely and keep them leashed. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered, causing confusion and abnormal behavior.

Survey the area inside and outside your home to identify potential dangers. Be aware of downed power lines, fallen trees, debris, and local wildlife.

Release pets indoors only. They could encounter dangerous hazards if they are allowed outside unsupervised and unrestrained.

Check your pet closely for any injuries that may have occurred in the emergency or during the evacuation.

Reintroduce food in small servings, gradually working up to full portions if animals have been without food for a prolonged period of time. Allow uninterrupted rest/sleep for all animals to recover from the trauma and stress.

If you have lost your pet:

Visit each shelter in your area daily. You must check the shelter in person as you are the only person who can truly identify your animal. Bring with you a current photo of you with your pet, showing or describing any distinctive markings.

Create a flyer with your pet’s photo and description, pet’s name, your name and phone numbers where you can be reached. Notify local veterinarians, your neighbors, local animal control agency and local animal shelter of any lost animals.

When you do find your pet, immediately examine it for illness or injuries. Obtain medical attention from your veterinarian if needed. Use caution when handling animals. Panicky or injured animals may bite!

The Disaster Preparedness Kit list is below. Please print this page and use it as a checklist to complete your kit.


  • Pet carrier or cage for each pet
  • One week supply of food and water
  • Non-spill food and water bowls
  • Leash, collar, harness for each pet
  • Vaccination and medical records
  • Emergency contact list (including veterinarian)
  • Photographs, other proof of ownership
  • First aid kit
  • Medications and dosing instructions
  • Familiar item to make your pet more comfortable (favorite toy, blanket, etc)
  • Can opener (manual)
  • Paper towels
  • Disinfectants
  • Newspaper (bedding, litter)
  • Litter, litter pan, litter scoop
  • Trash bags
  • Spoon (canned food)
  • Batteries (flashlight, radio)
  • Flashlight
  • Radio (solar and battery operated)
  • Stakes and tie-outs

Your kit should be assembled in an easy-to-carry, waterproof container. It should be stored in an easily accessible location away from areas with temperature extremes. Replace the food, water, and medications as often as needed to maintain their quality and freshness and in accordance with the expiration dates. Indicate medications that are stored elsewhere due to temperature requirements (refrigeration).

Consult with your veterinarian for advice on making a first aid kit that is appropriate for your individual pets. It is important that you become familiar with the items in your kit and their uses. Your veterinarian may recommend an animal first aid book to include in your kit.