The best way to protect your family from the effects of a disaster is to have a disaster plan. If you are a pet owner, that plan must include your pets. Being prepared can save their lives.
If you must evacuate, make sure you find a safe shelter for your pets. If it's not safe for you, it's not safe for them. Pets left behind can become injured, lost or ill. So, prepare now for the day when you and your pets may have to leave your home.
Don't forget your pet when preparing a family disaster plan. Assemble a portable pet disaster supplies kit.
Keep items in an accessible place and store them in sturdy containers that can be easily carried. Your pet disaster supplies kit should include:
- Medications, immunization records and a first aid kit.
- Sturdy leashes, muzzles, harnesses, carriers or cages to transport pets safely. Carriers should be large enough for the pet to stand comfortably, turn around and lie down. Include blankets or towels for bedding and warmth.
- Current photos of your pets in case they get lost.
- Food, drinking water, bowls, cat litter/pan and can opener.
- Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems and the name and number of your veterinarian.
- Pet beds and toys, if easily transportable.
Have a Safe Place To Take Your Pets
Many public disaster shelters cannot accept pets because of health and safety regulations and other considerations. The only animals allowed in some shelters are service animals that assist people with disabilities. Research your sheltering options before a disaster strikes. Work with your local emergency management and humane organizations to develop sheltering alternatives for people with pets.
- Contact hotels and motels outside your immediate area to check policies on accepting pets.
- Ask friends, relatives or others outside your area whether they could shelter your animals in an emergency.
- Prepare a list of animal shelters, boarding facilities and veterinarians who could shelter animals in an emergency.
Know What To Do As a Disaster Approaches
- Call ahead to confirm emergency shelter arrangements for you and your pets.
- Check to be sure your pet disaster supplies are ready to take at a moment's notice.
- Bring all pets into the house so you won't have to search for them if you have to leave in a hurry.
- Make sure all dogs and cats are wearing collars and up-to-date identification tags.
If You Shelter in Place ("Stay Put")
- Identify a safe area of your home where you can all stay together, including your pets.
- Keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers. Be sure they are wearing identification tags.
- Have medications and a supply of pet food and water inside watertight containers.
In Case You're Not Home
Make arrangements in advance for a trusted meighbor to take your pets and meet you at a predetermined location. Make sure that the person is comfortable around your pets, knows where they are likely to be, knows where your disaster supplies are kept and has a key to your home.
If you use a pet-sitting service, it may be able to help, but discuss this possibility well in advance.
After a Disaster
Walk pets on a leash until they become re-oriented to their home - often familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and pets could easily be confused and become lost. Also, downed power lines, reptiles brought in with high water and debris can all pose a threat for animals after a disaster.
If pets cannot be found after a disaster, contact the local animal control office to find out where lost animals can be reclaimed. Bring along a picture of your pet if possible.
Get your pets back into their normal routines as soon as possible. After a disaster, animals can become aggressive or defensive - monitor their behavior. If these problems persist or if your pet seems to be having any health problems, talk to your veterinarian.
All links open in a new browser window.
- Humane Society of the United States: Disaster Center
- Find pet-friendly lodging in your area
- Saving The Whole Family - The American Veterinary Medical Association
Lots of links to disaster preparedness sites for pets and animals
- FEMA: Animals and Emergencies
- Pets and Disaster: Be Prepared
from the American Red Cross
- Disaster Preparedness for Animals
from the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies
- Video: Animals in Emergencies
from the Department of Homeland Security
Note that the Apple Quick Time plug-in is required to view this video.
Content above was developed from materials provided by The Humane Society of the United States.
(.....most of these recommendations apply to both cats and dogs, and the advice has been combined in one section....where specifics or exceptions occur, they are noted appropriately....)
DISASTER KIT FOR CATS & DOGS
- Use the brand your pet is used to.
- Have dry and canned if that is what the pet eats. (If you use canned food, buy the smallest size can available, as your pet's appetite may decrease during a disaster and you may not have a proper way to store half-used cans of food.)
- Plastic lid to put on a half-used can of food. (Opened cans of food need to be stored in a refrigerator or ice chest.)
- Have enough to last at least one week. (More can be stored if you have room, but be sure it is rotated at least once every three months to prevent it from going bad.)
- Food dish.
- Can opener. (Even if what you are storing has flip-top lids, you may not be able to obtain that type if you run out in the weeks following a disaster.)
- Spoon to scoop the food out of the can.
- Have enough to last at least one week. (More can be stored if you have room, but be sure it is rotated at least every 3 months.)
- Store water in a dark or shaded area, and not in direct sunlight, or bacteria will start to form that can cause diarrhea.
- Non-spillable water dish.
- Small container of bleach for purifying water.
- Sealed plastic container for storing purified water.
- Have at least a one-week supply of scoopable litter stored in plastic jugs.
- Include a small plastic litter box and scoop in your disaster kit.
- Have a supply of plastic bags for disposing of litter that you have scooped.
- Have a pooper-scooper for picking up after your dog. (A small plastic child's shovel will work.)
- Have a supply of plastic bags to dispose of the waste.
- Disinfectant cleaner for cleaning crates and/or litter boxes. (Be sure to rinse the crate well before putting the pet back in, and DO NOT clean a crate while an animal is in it.)
- Paper towels for drying a crate or litter box after cleaning it.
- Dish soap for cleaning food & water dishes.
- Have recent pictures of all your animals. (Make at least 10 copies, in case you have do distribute them to several shelters and post them where you last saw the animal.) Keep the pictures current, especially if you have a kitten or puppy that is still growing. (Be sure you include in the picture any distinguishing marks.)
- Include yourself in the picture, holding or next to the pet. (This can assist in proving ownership of an animal.)
- If your pet is on prescribed medication, be sure to keep a reserve supply in the disaster kit, along with directions on how to administer it.
- Be sure the medication does not expire.
- Have enough to last at least two weeks.
- Include hairball paste if you have a long-haired cat or one that constantly spits up hairballs.
- If your dog is on a monthly heartworm medication, be sure to have a supply in the disaster kit.
- A muzzle, in case your dog is injured, to prevent being bitten. Practice putting it on your dog, before you are in a disaster.
- Keep a record of all your pets' vaccinations in your disaster kit.
- In order to board a dog at a kennel or shelter, it will need a Bordetella vaccination to prevent it from getting kennel cough.
COLLAR & TAG:
- A breakaway collar and tag should be kept on cats, and proper fitting collar and tag on dogs, AT ALL TIMES, but an extra one of each should be kept in the kit in case the permanent one gets lost in a disaster.
- Keep several spare tags in your kit that can be personalized, so if you move to a temporary location, you can put that phone number & address on the tag.
- Include a proper fitting cat or dog harness in the kit. They work better for controlling the animal when it has to be taken out for exercise. If the animal gets frightened, they cannot slip out of a harness as they can with a collar. NEVER leave a cat unattended when it is on a leash, and do not tie it to anything. Someone should always hold the leash when a cat is on it.
- If your pet is microchipped or has a tattoo, be sure to have the national registry numbers in your disaster kit.
- Make up & store in the kit preprinted "Lost Posters," in case your pet gets lost. (Include your phone number, an alternate phone number, and your address, and leave blank lines to write in the animal's description, where it was last seen, and any other pertinent information.)
- Write on a piece of paper the name, address, and telephone number of your regular vet and an alternate vet.
- Write out a release form authorizing another party to get emergency medical treatment for an injured pet, in case you are not available to give approval during a disaster.
FIRST AID KIT:
- Quantities should be based on the number of pets in your household:
- conforming bandage (3" x 5")
- absorbent gauze pads (4" x 4")
- absorbent gauze roll (3" x 1 yard)
- nonadherent absorbent dressing
- cotton-tipped applicators (1 box)
- antiseptic wipes
- emollient cream
- instant cold pack
- zinc oxide tape (3/4" x 1 yard)
- latex disposable gloves (several pairs)
- Store in a watertight container, along with a good pet first-aid guide.
BRUSH & COMB:
- Include these in your disaster kit if your pet likes to be brushed. Otherwise, leave them out, as a disaster is NOT the time to try and get your pet used to something new.
- Include a few toys in your disaster kit if your pet is used to playing with them. Otherwise, leave them out. For dogs, include chew toys, to occupy them when they would otherwise be active.
- Dry shampoo, in case you have to give your pet a bath. Sometimes, in disasters, pets come in contact with substances that need to be cleaned off their fur. Dry shampoos work well because they do not require water (something that can be in short supply.)
- Cloth towels for drying off your pet.
- Nail clippers. (Cats may not have access to their scratching post for a while.)
- Flea powder. (Make sure it is specific for cats or dogs.)
- If you have to confine your pet during a disaster, you can use a plastic crate. Be sure it is large enough to hold a food/water dish, and allows ample room for the animal to stretch out. For cats, also, large enough for a small litter box.
- Be sure the cage has a secure locking device, to prevent the pet from escaping.
- Another alternative is a collapsible wire cage. These are better to use in really warm weather because the pet will get better ventilation.
- For evacuating a cat, you can use an Evacsack, which takes up a lot less room. The cat cannot be housed in it for extended periods of time, though.
- Wire exercise pens work well for confining small dogs, but be careful of them digging their way out.
- A spiral ground stake and 6-foot chain can be used to tie a dog outside. Be sure if you use this method of confining a dog that there is no risk of the dog hanging itself by falling off a porch, or getting itself tangled around something. Be sure the dog has protection from the weather, especially the sun. Don't tie a dog outside and forget it.
Copyright © 2005 Paragon Bengals. All Rights Reserved.
Last modified: August 28, 2009