Animal Services

Pets And Disasters

In Case of Disaster … PROTECT your pets!

Everyone can benefit from having a household evacuation plan in place. It's the best way to protect your family in case of disaster, whether it's a large-scale natural catastrophe or an emergency that causes you to leave your home temporarily. Every disaster plan MUST include your pets.

Keep up to date identification on your dog or cat at all times. Make sure that the collar is properly fitted (avoid chain link collars for dogs and use breakaway collars for cats). It's a good idea to have a friend's or family member's phone number on your pet's identification tag in case you can not be reached.

Have current color photographs of your pet, showing any distinguishing markings, with your emergency supplies. If you and your pet become separated, these photos will help identify him/her.

If you know a disaster is imminent, bring your pets inside immediately! Get your animals under control as quickly as possible, either on a leash or inside a carrier.

Disasters often strike suddenly, while you're away from home. You can improve your pet's chances for safety if you leave him/her inside, with collars and identification tags, when you go out. Consider an arrangement with a neighbor who would be willing to evacuate your pet in your absence. Make sure that person knows your animals, can locate your emergency supplies, and has a key to your house. Provide him or her with instructions and phone numbers.

  • Place a notice on your front door advising what pets are in the house and where they are located. Provide a telephone number where you or a contact can be reached as well as the name and number of your vet.

If You Evacuate, Take Your Pets!

Your animal's best protection is to be with you, but remember, taking your pet requires special planning since MOST SHELTERS DO NOT ALLOW PETS.

Click here to find a pet friendly evacuation shelter.

Take the following steps to ensure a smooth evacuation:

  • Locate a safe place for your pets before disaster strikes. Evacuation Shelters generally accept only service animals that assist people with disabilities.
  • Contact the American Automobile Association for The Pet Book, which lists hotels, and motels that accept pets. Call hotels and motels beforehand to ask under what conditions they accept pets, and whether there are restrictions as to the species, size or number of animals.
  • Call local boarding kennels and veterinarians with boarding facilities. Ask about their ability to house animals in case of emergency and/or disaster. Ask friends or family members whether they will provide foster care for your pets.
  • What if you need to evacuate and want to take your pet with you?  Program Coordinator, Diane Gagliano, gives tips on what to bring with you to keep your pet safe and happy. Pet Safety Shelter Preparedness Video (Video Help)

Disaster Supplies

Sturdy leashes, harnesses, and/or portable carriers (essential for cats)
Food/water bowls
Supply of your pet's food (include a can opener) and potable water in plastic bottles. A two-week supply is recommended; dry food is best.
Litter and litter box for cats
Supply of your pet's regular medications
First aid kit for animals
Health records, including vaccination records, and a current photo of your pet (stored in a waterproof container)
Instructions on your pet's feeding schedule and diet, medications, and any special needs (stored in a waterproof container)
Pet beds and toys, if easily transportable

Caring for Reptiles and Pocket Pets

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 (a two-week supply is recommended). Take potable water, a water bowl large enough for soaking and a heating pad. When transporting house lizards, follow the same directions as for birds.

Small mammals such as hamsters, gerbils, etc. should be transported in secure carriers suitable for maintaining the animals while sheltered. Take bedding material, food (a two-week supply is recommended) and food bowls, potable water and water bottles.

Caring for Birds

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 the birds inside. During warm weather, carry a plant mister to mist the birds' feathers periodically. Do not put water inside the carrier during transport. Instead, provide the birds with morsels of fresh fruit and vegetables with high water content. Have a photo and leg bands for identification. 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.

If You Must Leave Your Pets Behind …

Leaving your pet at home alone places your animal at greater risk for injury or loss, so make every effort to take your pet with you. If you have no alternative but to leave your pet behind, there are some precautions you should take.

  • Give your pet access to a safe, secure room without windows but with adequate ventilation, such as a bathroom
  • Leave enough food for at least 3 days. (Ask your veterinarian ahead of time what best for your pet.)
  • A sufficient supply of water is critical. One animal can easily drink several gallons of water a day when under stress. Place water in containers that aren't easily knocked over, and leave a faucet dripping into a bathtub or sink with an open drain. If you expect flooding, provide access to elevated spaces or counters.
  • Leave familiar bedding and safe toys.
  • Don't confine dogs and cats in the same place.
  • Keep small animals and birds safely caged.
  • Never leave a dog tied outside!
  • Make sure your pets are wearing proper identification (a collar and tag).
  • If you have a bird, leave food in dispensers that regulate the amount of food, and supply extra water. Birds must eat daily to survive. Secure cages so they won't swing or fall. Cover the cage with a thin cloth or sheet to provide security and filter light.
  • Place a notice on your front door advising what pets are in the house and where they are located. Provide a telephone number where you or a contact can be reached as well as the name and number of your vet.

Protecting Wildlife

Wild animals often seek higher ground, which, during floods, eventually becomes submerged (i.e., island), and the animals become stranded. If the island is large enough and provides suitable shelter, you can leave food appropriate to the species (i.e. sunflower seeds for squirrels.) Animals have a flight response and will flee from anyone approaching too closely. If the animal threatens to rush into the water, back away from the island or you may frighten the animal into jumping into the water to escape from you.

Wildlife often seek refuge from floodwaters on upper levels of a home and may remain inside even after the water recedes. If you meet a rat or a snake face to face, be careful but don't panic. Open a window or other escape route and the animal will probably leave on its own. Never attempt to capture a wild animal unless you have the training, protective clothing, restraint equipment and caging necessary to perform the job.

Beware of an increased number of snakes and predators who will try to feed on the carcasses of reptiles, amphibians and small mammals that have been drowned or crushed in their burrow and under rocks.

Often, during natural disasters, mosquitoes and dead animal carcasses may present disease problems. Outbreaks of anthrax, encephalitis and other diseases may occur.

If you see an injured or stranded animal in need of assistance, or you need help with evicting an animal from your home, contact your local animal services agency