Pets and Disaster Safety Check List


Our pets enrich our lives in more ways than we can count. In turn, they depend on us for their safety and well-being. Always be prepared with a disaster plan.
How can I prepare?
Plan to take your pets with you in an evacuation. If it is not safe for you to stay, it is not safe for them. Know which motels along your evacuation route take pets in an emergency. Call ahead for reservations; ask if no-pets policies could be waived in an emergency. Most Red Cross shelters cannot accept pets because of health and safety concerns. Service animals are allowed in Red Cross shelters. Know which friends and relatives, animal shelters or vets can care for your animal(s) in an emergency. Prepare a list with phone numbers. Although your animals may be more comfortable together, be prepared to house them separately. Include your pets in drills so that they become used to entering and traveling in their carriers calmly. Make sure that pet’s vaccinations are current and that all cats and dogs are wearing collars with securely fastened up-to-date identification. Many pet shelters require proof of current vaccinations to reduce the spread of disease. Consider having your pet “microchipped” by your veterinarian.
What should I do?
Assemble a portable kit with emergency supplies for your pets. Keep items in an accessible place and store them in sturdy containers so that they can be carried easily. Your kit should include…
  1. Sturdy leashes, harnesses and/or carriers to transport pets safely and ensure they can’t escape.
  2. Food, drinking water, bowls, cat litter/pan and a manual can opener
  3. Medication and copies of medical records stored in a waterproof container
  4. A first aid kit
  5. Current photos of you with your pets, in case they get lost. Since many pets look alike this will help to eliminate mistaken identity and confusion.
  6. Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to foster or board your pets. Pet beds and toys, if easily transportable.
Know what to do as the disaster approaches.
Often, warnings are issued hours and days in advanced. At the first hint of disaster, act to protect your pet. You should call ahead to confirm emergency shelter arrangements for you and your pets. Ensure that all pets are wearing collars with securely fastened up-to-date identification. Check that your pet disaster supplies are ready to take at a moment’s notice. Bring pet inside so you won’t have to search for them if you need to leave quickly.
After a disaster…
The behavior of pets may change dramatically after a disaster, becoming aggressive of defensive, so be aware of their well-being and protect them from hazards to ensure the safety of other people and animals. Watch your animals closely and keep them under you direct control as fences and gates may have been damaged. Pets may become disoriented, particularly if the disaster has affected scent markers that normally allow them to find their home. Be aware of hazards at nose, paw, or hoof level, particularly debris, spilled chemicals, fertilizers and other substances that might not seem too dangerous to humans. Consult your veterinarian if any behavior problems persist.