Preparing Your Pets For Emergencies

Protecting Your Pets

Whether you decide to stay put or evacuate to a safer location, you will need to make plans in advance for your pets in the event of an emergency.  If you evacuate your home, your pets should not be left 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 possible, take your pets with you if have to evacuate. However, if you are going to a public shelter, it is important to note that animals may not be allowed inside. Unfortunately, many disaster evacuation centers (and specifically Red Cross evacuation centers) cannot accept pets because of states' health and safety regulations. In fact, service animals that assist people with disabilities are currently the only animals allowed in some evacuation centers. Plan in advance for shelter alternatives that will work for both you and your pets.

Plan for Pet Disaster Needs:

  • Find out which motels and hotels in the area you plan to evacuate to allow pets  well in advance of needing them. There are also a number of guides that list hotels/motels that permit pets and could serve as a starting point. Include your local animal shelter's number in your list of emergency numbers, they might be able to provide information concerning pets during a disaster.
  • Take pet food, bottled water, medications, veterinary records, cat litter/pan, can opener, food dishes, first aid kit and other supplies with you in case they're not available later. Consider packing a "pet survival" kit which could be easily deployed if disaster hits.

During a Disaster
  • Bring your pets inside immediately.
  • Have newspapers on hand for sanitary purposes. Feed the animals moist or canned food so they will need less water to drink.
  • Animals have instincts about severe weather changes and will often isolate themselves if they are afraid. Bringing them inside early can stop them from running away. Never leave a pet outside or tied up during a storm.
  • Separate dogs and cats. Even if your dogs and cats normally get along, the anxiety of an emergency situation can cause pets to act irrationally. Keep small pets away from cats and dogs.
  • In an emergency, you may have to take your birds with you. Talk with your veterinarian or local pet store about special food dispensers that regulate the amount of food a bird is given. Make sure that the bird is caged and the cage is covered by a thin cloth or sheet to provide security and filtered light.

After a Disaster
  • If after a disaster you have to leave town, take your pets with you. Pets are unlikely to survive on their own.
  • In the first few days after the disaster, leash your pets when they go outside. Always maintain close contact. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and your pet may become confused and lost. Also, snakes and other dangerous animals may be brought into the area with flood areas. Downed power lines are a hazard.
  • The behavior of your pets may change after an emergency. Normally quiet and friendly pets may become aggressive or defensive. Watch animals closely. Leash dogs and place them in a fenced yard with access to shelter and water.




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