Make a Plan

Pet Disaster Plan

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.

puppy and kitten
  • Keep up-to-date identification on your dog(s) and/or cat(s) 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 cannot be reached.
  • Have current color photographs of you and your pet(s), showing any distinguishing markings, with your emergency supplies. If you and your pet(s) become separated, these photos will help identify him/her/them.
  • 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 notices 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 phone number of your vet.
  • 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 would be willing to provide foster care for your pets.

If You Evacuate, Take Your Pets

Your animal’s best protection is to be with you, but remember, taking your pet requires special planning. Review the following tips to ensure a smooth evacuation:

  • 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.
  • Caring for Reptiles and Pocket Pets: red eared slider turtle
    • Snakes can be transported in a pillowcase, but they must be transferred to more secure housing when they reach the evacuation site. If your snake requires 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.
    • 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), food bowls, potable water, and water bottles.
  • Caring for Birds:
    • Birds should be transported in a secure travel cage or carrier. Do not let the birds out of the 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.

Most Shelters Do Not Allow Pets

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.

sad bulldog
  • Give your pet(s) 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 is 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 notices 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 phone 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 seeks 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 burrows and under rocks.

wild coyote

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.