Preparing pets for disaster

Habitat Ready: Disaster preparedness for homeowners

Pets are often considered members of the family, so it is important to take their needs and safety into consideration when preparing for a disaster.

Before a disaster

  • ID your pet:
    • Make sure your pet is wearing a collar with updated contact information.
    • To increase your chances of being reunited with lost pets, consider having them microchipped.
  • Get a rescue alert sticker:
    • This American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals sticker lets people know there are animals in your home.
    • Make sure it is visible to rescuers and includes the number and types of animals in your household, along with the name and phone number of your veterinarian.
    • If you must evacuate, and if time allows, write “EVACUATED” across the sticker.
  • Be sure to include pets in your family preparedness plan.
  • Also include pets in your family evacuation plan.
  • Have pet supplies in your disaster supply kit.
  • Locate a safe place to take your pets:
    • Pay attention to local guidance about updated plans for evacuations and shelters, including potential shelters for your pets.
    • Most emergency shelters do not accept pets, so it is important to identify hotels or motels that are pet-friendly or arrange with friends or family members to look after your pets. 
    • Contact your veterinarian for a list of recommended boarding kennels and other facilities.
    • As a last resort, some animal shelters may be able to provide shelter in an emergency.
  • Some animals, such as birds, reptiles or other small animals, may require special considerations when preparing for a disaster. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations on how to best prepare your pet.

During a disaster

  • If you evacuate:
    • Take your pets with you. Remember: If it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets.
  • If you stay home:
    • Keep pets indoors and bring them to your designated safe room if necessary.
  • If you have no choice but to evacuate without your pets:
    • Confine them to a safe area inside and leave them with plenty of food and water.
    • Place a notice outside advising that there are pets in the house. Include contact numbers.

After a disaster

  • If you become separated from your pets, make sure your family is safe first, and then begin searching for them.
  • Do not allow pets to roam loose. Keep them on a leash or harness at all times when outdoors.
  • If you see injured or stranded wild animals, call a local emergency management office and report it.
  • Be patient. Disasters can be traumatic for animals too, and you may see changes in their behavior.

Additional resources

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