Cats & Dogs Disaster Preparedness

When the next disaster hits, will you be prepared? Are you confident your pet companion will cooperate during an evacuation?

In some cases, there have been serious injury and even fatalities during a disaster because people who have animals refuse to leave their animals behind.  

Be sure you practice, safely evacuating with your pet, and be prepared with an “Evacuation Pack”

Leaving pets out of evacuation plans can put pets, pet owners, and first responders in danger. Even if you try to create a safe place for them, pets left behind during a disaster are likely to be injured, lost, or worse.

“Evac-Pack” include:

  1. Pet first-aid kit and guide book (ask your vet what to include)
  2. 3-7 days’ worth of canned (pop-top) or dry food (be sure to rotate every two months)
  3. Disposable litter trays (aluminum roasting pans are perfect)
  4. Litter or paper toweling
  5. Liquid dish soap and disinfectant
  6. Disposable garbage bags for clean-up
  7. Pet feeding dishes and water bowls
  8. Extra collar or harness as well as an extra leash
  9. Photocopies and/or USB of medical records and a waterproof container with a two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires (Remember, food and medications need to be rotated out of your emergency kit—otherwise they may go bad or become useless)
  10. At least seven days’ worth of bottled water for each person and pet (store in a cool, dry place and replace every two months)
  11. A traveling bag, crate or sturdy carrier, ideally one for each pet
  12. Flashlight
  13. Blanket
  14. Recent photos of your pets (in case you are separated and need to make “Lost” posters)
  15. Especially for cats: Pillowcase (for cats to hide in or for emergency transport), toys, scoop-able litter
  16. Especially for dogs: Extra leash, toys and chew toys, a week’s worth of cage liner
  17. You should also have an emergency kit for the human members of the family. Items to include: Batteries, duct tape, flashlight, radio, multi-tool, tarp, rope, permanent marker, spray paint, baby wipes, protective clothing and footwear, extra cash, rescue whistle, important phone numbers, extra medication and copies of medical and insurance information.

Step 1: Get a Rescue Alert Sticker

Easy-to-use stickers will let people know that pets are inside your home. Make sure it is visible to rescue workers (we recommend placing it on or near your front door), and that it includes the types and number of pets in your home as well as the name and number of your veterinarian. If you must evacuate with your pets, and if time allows, write “EVACUATED” across the stickers. To get a free emergency pet alert sticker for your home, visit the ASPCA website here and fill out the online order form. Your local pet supply store may also sell similar stickers.

Step 2: Choose "Designated Caregivers”

This step will take considerable time and thought. When choosing a temporary caregiver, consider someone who lives close to your residence. He or she should be someone who is generally home during the day while you are at work or has easy access to your home. A set of keys should be given to this trusted individual. This may work well with neighbors who have pets of their own—you may even swap responsibilities, depending upon who has accessibility.

When selecting a permanent caregiver, you’ll need to consider other criteria. This is a person to whom you are entrusting the care of your pet in the event that something should happen to you. When selecting this “foster parent,” consider people who have met your pet and have successful cared for animals in the past. Be sure to discuss your expectations at length with a permanent caregiver, so he or she understands the responsibility of caring for your pet.

Step 3: Arrange a Safe Haven

Arrange a safe haven for your pets in the event of evacuation. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND. Remember, if it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets. They may become trapped or escape and be exposed to numerous life-threatening hazards. Note that not all shelters accept pets, so it is imperative that you have determined where you will bring your pets ahead of time:

  • Contact your veterinarian for a list of preferred boarding kennels and facilities.
  • Ask your local animal shelter if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets.
  • Identify hotels or motels outside of your immediate area that accept pets.
  • Ask friends and relatives outside your immediate area if they would be willing to take in your pet.

There are some wonderful resources on the web for evacuating animals. Here are some listed below:

Download or order useful pamphlets on disaster preparedness from AVMA:

More useful links: