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Pet Disaster Preparedness

A tornado strikes your town. A hurricane rushes through your city. A flood destroys your home. You've made it through safely, but what about your pets?

5 Animal Disaster Preparedness Essentials

Make sure your pets are protected when disaster strikes. Download our 5 Animal Disaster Preparedness Essentials checklist (PDF):

[English]  [Espanol]

Get more details on emergency planning for specific types of disasters:

Planning ahead is the key to keeping yourself and your pets safe if disaster strikes. Follow these tips to make an emergency plan for your pets:

1. Microchip your pets
Microchip identification is one of the best ways to ensure that you and your pet are reunited if you are separated. Be sure to keep the microchip registration up-to-date, and include at least one emergency number of a friend or relative who resides out of your immediate area. 

2. Keep a collar and tag on all cats and dogs
Keep several current phone numbers on your animal’s identification tag. Identification on indoor-only cats is especially important. If your home is damaged during a disaster, they could easily escape.

3. Plan a pet-friendly place to stay
Search in advance for out-of-area pet-friendly hotels or boarding facilities, or make a housing exchange agreement with an out-of-area friend or relative. Never leave your pet behind if you evacuate!

Search for pet-friendly accommodations at:

4. Use the buddy system
Exchange pet information, evacuation plans and house keys with a few trusted neighbors or nearby friends. If you’re caught outside evacuation lines when an evacuation order is issued, your neighbors or friends can evacuate your pets for you.

5. Prepare an emergency kit for each animal
Stock up on the items you may need during a disaster now so you do not get caught unprepared. Below are basic items you should include in your pets' disaster kits. Store your disaster kit supplies in an easy-to-grab container.

  • One-week supply of food. Store it in a water-tight container and rotate it every three months to keep it fresh. If you use canned food, include a spare can opener.
  • One-week supply of fresh water. If officials declare your household water unfit to drink, it’s also unsafe for your pets. Follow American Red Cross guidelines for storing emergency water for your family and your pets.
  • Medication. If your animal takes medication, a replacement supply may not be easily available following a disaster.
  • Copies of vaccination records
  • Photographs of you with your pets to prove ownership
  • Photographs of your pets in case you need to make "lost pet" fliers
  • Pet first aid kit
  • Temporary ID tags. If you've evacuated, use this to record your temporary contact information and/or the phone number of an unaffected friend or relative.
  • Carrier or leash for each animal. Caregivers of multiple cats or other small animals can use an EvacSak, which is easy to store and use for transport.

Get more details on emergency planning for specific species:Planning ahead can keep you and your pets together during a disaster

6. Identify emergency veterinary facilities outside of your immediate area
If a disaster has affected your community, emergency veterinary facilities may be closed. Pets may become injured or ill during the disaster, so make sure you know how to access other emergency facilities. You can also check with your veterinarian to find out if they have an emergency plan that includes setting up in an alternate, emergency facility.

7. Plan for temporary confinement
Physical structures, like walls, fences and barns may be destroyed during a disaster. Have a plan for keeping your animal safely confined. You may need a tie-out, crate or kennel.

Often, when animals are evacuated to unfamiliar locations, their stress and fear can lead to illness injury. Read more tips for ensuring your pets' safety during an evacuation.

8. Comfort your animals
Your animals will appreciate your calm presence and soft, comforting voice if they are stressed following a disaster or while evacuated, and you may find it comforting to spend time with them, too. Some animals, especially cats, may be too scared to be comforted. Interact with them on their terms. Some animals may find toys, especially long-lasting chew toys, comforting.

9. Know where to search for lost animals
When animals become lost during a disaster, they often end up at a local shelter. Keep handy the locations and phone numbers of the shelters in your area.

10. Get children involved in disaster preparedness plans. The book Ready or Not, Here it Comes! by RedRover Responders Team Leader, Howard Edelstein, discusses how to prepare for all types of disasters to safeguard families and the animals in their care. 

If a disaster hit your town, would you be prepared to care for your pet? Assemble your kit, then join our "We're Ready" campaign:

Post the "We're Ready" sign on your Facebook page to show everyone that you and your pet(s) are evacuation-ready.

Are you ready? You can also download and print the "We're Ready" sign and send us a close-up photo on Facebook or to of you and your pet(s) with the sign.


Submitted by Bill (not verified) on
Place a note on a window or other conspicuous place how many animals are in the house and of what species. That way if you are not home when disaster strikes, emergency personnel will know what to look for in your residence.

Submitted by Amanda (not verified) on
Hi, I do agree with stricter policies and much more attention paid to animals welfare and the homes they're in. Voiceless creatures of any species deserve advocates and strong standards of care. Someone has to keep animals safe and protect them from the many monsters out in the world. Not all people with violent convictions should be included in this category, however. Many people have had minor convictions based on circumstance. I'd love to see a system created that is understanding of different situations, and doesn't group all people together that have had any type of past situation. But I'm so happy to see someone else with the same thoughts on creating a better system and a better world for animals. Keep up the good work.

Submitted by Bobbi Hill (not verified) on
My 3 dogs are my children. Samantha, age 5 - Zoe, age 3 - & Hunter, Age 9 mo. All you have to remember is to treat them LIKE YOUR CHILDREN.. WATCH them like you do or did watch your kids when they were growing up.Know where they are at all times. PROTECT them. AND NEVER LEAVE THEM BEHIND !!!! Would you leave your Kids behind in a disaster or Storm ??? Do the same for your Pets. And they will always love you and protect you.

Submitted by Susie Scott (not verified) on
You've reminded me/us that We Ain't Prepared. Our main caveat is Don't Let 'Em Out; rather useless in Genuine Situation. Care for 10 felines of varying ages, from diabetic almost 15yr old to group/litter of 5 5yr olds. Retaining your List of 9...

Submitted by Pamela Gylling (not verified) on
Whenever our family eats chicken with bones, the bones are taken directly to the trash outside when we have finished eating. This avoids nosy dogs from trying to get at them, and possibly succeeding--which can be lethal.

Submitted by Marguerite Topping (not verified) on
1. Get and place a Red Rover Door "In Case of Emergency, Save Our Animals!" sticker on the exterior of your main entry/exit door at eye level, indicating type and number of animals kept inside, and your mobile phone number: if you are out of your home when a fire or other disaster occurs, emergency services will know that animals are trapped inside. This information can save the lives of your animals. 2. Get or make an emergency door hanger to keep on the inside knob of your main entry/exit door. In the event of an emergency, place doorhanger on the outside of your door with the red side out (NEED HELP / AYUDA) if you do need assistance evacuating with your animals. If you can evacuate, take all your animals, lock your door, then place the doorhanger on the outside of your door with the green side out (OK) indicating that responders can move on to the next neighbor who needs help. Alternately, mark your exterior door or wall with chalk indicating that your are safe, and the day and time of your departure. This information can save the lives of people AND animals.

Submitted by Karen Pauli (not verified) on
I like the door hanger. Alternately, you can grab the nearest thing that will write on glass: crayon, lipstick, permanent maker (on glass only, not acrylic)) and write on the glass of the door or storm door ALL EVACUATED. Draw an arrow to your "Save My Pets" sticker so responders will know you mean ALL! Also, check your sticker now and then to make sure the writing on it hasn't faded in the sun. The sticker doesn't do any good if responders don't know how many of what kind of animals there are.

Submitted by Rose (not verified) on
I have often seen it suggested that every household should have a route planned in the event they are forced to evacuate on foot. (For example: your car is dead, roads out are blocked by fallen trees, there is a gasoline shortage, or you have no car and public transport has stopped running.) It is important to consider how you would take all of your pets with you in such a scenario. An elderly, arthritic dog may need a wagon to ride in if he or she is too big for you to carry long distances. Also, it is nearly impossible for one person to carry more than two cat carriers, and even two is very tiring on the arms - not to mention you may need a hand free to hold a dog's leash or a child's hand. With some slight alteration, I made it so I can stack my two cat carriers in one of those soft-sided suitcases that rolls on little wheels (with the front flap removed for ventilation, and straps holding them in) and added straps to the back so it could also be carried as a backpack if we had to go off-road and/or the wheels broke. There is also room to store a small emergency kit above where the carriers strap in. A kitty bug-out bag. My additional tip: Always keep a few cans of canned food on hand even if you usually feed kibble or a fresh diet. A small amount stirred in to water can help encourage a sick or exhausted pet to drink enough fluids, and adding a bit to kibble may help a dog eat who is stressed by being in a new place.

Submitted by Rose (not verified) on
If you have a basement or safe room for tornadoes, your dogs should be trained to go in it on command. Practice this once a month or so, so they don't forget. This is especially important for households with multiple pets or with small children, as it can take too long to bring everyone down one at a time. If the basement is usually off limits to them, most dogs will balk at the top of the stairs unless they are well trained to go down on command.

Submitted by Caitlin (not verified) on
Rose,This is very true.You should train dogs to go into the basement.If a disaster strikes have your dogs ready.I would train my dogs so they'll be ready.

Submitted by Caitlin (not verified) on
Rose,This is very true.You should train dogs to go into the basement.If a disaster strikes have your dogs ready.I would train my dogs so they'll be ready.

Submitted by Alexis (not verified) on
Never leave a pet in a cage in the house when you're not home. You can't take your pet with you, get a sitter to be with the pet while you are away. Think about this for a minute, while you are at work, out shopping or visiting, a fire starts in the home and your pet is in a cage and no one is with them, that pet is trapped and is going to die all because you thought it was safe to trap the pet in a cage and left home unattended. This is exactly how so many pets die everyday somewhere in this country. So don't be selfish and stupid and plan for the safety of your pet!!!

Submitted by kris fied (not verified) on
Keep bottled water, plastic utinsils, paper plates, aluminum water and dry food bowls, canned food, dry food, baby food, zip lock bags, flashlight, rubber gloves, felt tip marker, bedding, tiny fold up kitty cube(for fearful cats especially), can opener, handwash, masking tape, and large pack of typing paper for writing notes esp to motel personnel to place on your doo("pet inside..keep out please")all in a plastic see through tote with lid in temp controlled store place.

Submitted by Karen Pauli (not verified) on
Cats are the hardest animals to evacuate or get to shelter in a hurry. Too many thing the carrier means a trip to the vet and hide. Make the carrier something good. Keep it out so they get used to seeing it. Use it as their bed. Feed them in it, give them treats whenever they go in. Take them for short rides that have nothing to do with the vet (Ice cream Drive through maybe?) If a tornado WATCH is issued, get them into their carriers and into shelter then. Don't wait for it to turn into a WARNING. If it's a false alarm, you've had a good practice, and the cats learn that they sit in the carrier for a while and then are let out. Big deal. Also, give a "chow call" every time you feed them or give them treats. Then you can get them to come to you in an emergency instead of having to go hunting for them.

Submitted by Susanna (not verified) on
If you don't already have one, install a security door/screen door and make sure it latches firmly. If it doesn't, then keep it locked. So many animals have been lost because someone opened the door and the animal runs out. Make sure anyone coming to your home, particularly when you're not there, understands that your pets do not go outside and that they are to keep the door shut and to be aware of where your pet is when they open the door.

Submitted by Karen Sullivan (not verified) on
Research what you are feeding your pets. No table scraps. I no longer have pets, but Science Diet was my choice for rare visits to the vet (except for annual shots) and long life.

Submitted by For Paws Hospice (not verified) on
Build your own Pet First Aid Kit at For Paws Hospice

Submitted by Rhonda J Hinrichs (not verified) on
Learning ways is good to keep pets safe an them to feel safe as well.

Submitted by Caitlin (not verified) on
I would keep my dogs safe in a disaster because I love them.They are like best friends to me!If a disaster striked,I would keep them safe.So when a disaster strikes, try your best to keep them safe.

Submitted by Julio (not verified) on
passion for pets

Submitted by (not verified) on
When you are a responsible pet owner, you really have to take time to make a plan and assemble an emergency kit for you and your pet. Thanks for providing helpful information on how to do that. <a href=""></a>

Submitted by Dog Advocate (not verified) on
Please consider changing the color of your t-shirts from burgundy to white, to help reduce your body temperature during helping the animals in extreme heat conditions. White reflects the sun's heat, and can be a lifesaver for older volunteers especially.

Submitted by Kat D (not verified) on
You DO NOT have to leave your pet in a disaster according to the PETS Act or Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act. Sometimes just knowing that there is a law makes you feel empowered enough to not leave your pet. Please take your pet, they are just as scared as you are.

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