How to Prepare Your Pets for a Disaster
Pets are well-loved parts of many families, and they need to be taken care of in disasters just like other family members. Here are some tips to help you prepare to take care of your pets in case of emergency.
Before the storm
Prepare a pet disaster kit. Store it with your family disaster supplies kit. Some things to include in a pet kit are:
- A sturdy carrier
- An up-to-date identification tag
- A leash
- Food and water for at least three days
- A bowl
- If you have cats, a portable litter box and litter
- Plastic bags for potty clean up
- Can opener
- A copy of veterinary record
- A photo of your pet
- Phone numbers of emergency veterinary clinic and local animal shelter
- A pet first aid kit, including various sizes of bandages, tweezers, antibiotic ointment, Q-tips, elasticized tape, saline eye wash and ear cleaning solution
Enact Pet Plan
- Take your pets with you in cases of evacuation. Pets are usually not allowed in emergency shelters, so make arrangements to have someone take care of your pet if you must stay in a shelter.
Below are resources for pet-friendly accommodations:
- Secure fish tanks and bird cages with industrial strength velcro. Put fish tanks on low tables, and strengthen the latches on bird cages so that the door cannot easily swing open.
- Bring outside pets inside until all danger has passed.
- Be patient with your pets after a disaster, because they can get stressed out just like humans do and will probably need time to decompress.
How to Prepare Large Animals For Disaster
If you have large animals such as horses, cattle, sheep, goats, or pigs on your property, be sure to prepare before a disaster.
Use the following guidelines:
- Ensure all animals have some form of identification.
- Evacuate animals whenever possible. Map out primary and secondary routes in advance.
- Make available vehicles and trailers needed for transporting and supporting each type of animal. Also make available experienced handlers and drivers.
- Ensure destinations have food, water, veterinary care, and handling equipment.
- If evacuation is not possible, animal owners must decide whether to move large animals to shelter or turn them outside.
How to Prepare Other Small Animals For Disaster
Birds should be transported in a secure travel cage or carrier. In cold weather, wrap a blanket over the carrier and warm up the car before placing birds inside. During warm weather, carry a plant mister to mist the birds' feathers periodically. Do not put water inside the carrier during transport. Provide a few slices of fresh fruits and vegetables with high water content. Have a photo for identification and leg bands. If the carrier does not have a perch, line it with paper towels and change them frequently. Try to keep the carrier in a quiet area. Do not let the birds out of the cage or carrier.
Snakes can be transported in a pillowcase but they must be transferred to more secure housing when they reach the evacuation site. If your snakes require frequent feedings, carry food with you. Take a water bowl large enough for soaking as well as a heating pad. When transporting house lizards, follow the same directions as for birds.
The electrical power could go off and stop the aeration pump in the fish tank. If the tank has an adapter, the pump can be operated by battery.
Small mammals (hamsters, gerbils, etc.) should be transported in secure carriers suitable for maintaining the animals while sheltered. Take bedding materials, food bowls, and water bottles.
During the storm - Tips for pet owners
- Noise from a storm can frighten a pet.
- If possible, keep the pet within sight of the family.
- Use the supplies in your pet survival kit for your pet's sanitary and food needs.
- Never leave your pet chained outside.
- Never tranquilize your pets. They need to use their survival instincts to escape any potential danger.
A Final Word
If you must evacuate, do not leave your animals behind. Evacuate them to a prearranged safe location if they cannot stay with you during the evacuation period. (Remember, pets are not allowed in American Red Cross shelters.)
If there is a possibility that disaster may strike while you are out of the house, there are precautions you can take to increase your pets' chances of survival, but they are not a substitute for evacuating with your pets.
For more information, contact The Humane Society of the United States, Disaster Services, 2100 L Street NW, Washington, DC 20037.
Use caution after the storm
After the storm has passed, be careful in allowing your pet outdoors. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and your pet could easily be confused and become lost.
Downed power lines, animals and insects brought in with high water could present real dangers to your pet.
Take care not to allow your pet to consume food or water which may have become contaminated.
For more information about pets and disaster, please visit:
- Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies Makes Sense - Get Ready Now (brochure)
- PREPARE.ORG, Disaster Preparedness for Pets
- FEMA Animal Disaster Preparedness
- American Kennel Club