Plan at Home

Disaster Planning for Your Pets

Personal Disaster Planning for Your Pets (well in advance of an event)

  • Secure a carrier for each of your animals.
  • Take quality frontal and profile photographs of each of your animals. Have numerous copies of each made. If an animal has an individual or identifying mark, take a photograph and keep it with you. Use this as positive ID if you need to reclaim your pet.
  • Make a copy of each animal’s medical records, especially of health and current rabies certificates. Some kennels, clinics, etc. now require proof of kennel cough inoculations.
  • Have a special collar name tag made with multiple contact numbers and addresses.
  • Familiarize your pets with their carriers by loading them into the cages. Use food as an enticement if necessary. When an emergency comes, you want the animal to enter willingly and without delay.
  • Contact out-of-area clinics, boarding kennels, and motels to check on rules and accommodations.
  • Consider special needs for evacuating livestock and ensure that horses will easily load into trailers.
  • Have your animals micro-chipped or tattooed.
  • Let emergency responders know that there are pets in the house by placing signs or window stickers at or near all entrances to your house indicating that there are pets inside.

Before a Disaster Event

  • Make up your disaster kit including water and food for seven days, water and food bowls, leashes and ID collars, First Aid kit, medications, medical records, familiar toys, muzzle, cleaning supplies and a contact card.
  • Designate a family member to be in charge of animals. Have them practice an emergency drill.
  • Formulate a buddy system with a neighbor or friend who can check and care for your pets if you are out of the area and cannot return. Give them written permission for a vet to treat your animals.
  • Make sure collars fit the animal. Consider breakaway collars for cats.

During a Disaster Event

  • Confine outside animals in an accessible safe area
  • Confine all animals for transport
  • Load stored emergency gear and animals
  • Turn off electricity, water main, and/or gas
  • Lock up and get out

After a Disaster Event

  • Scent posts and landmarks have changed. Keep your pet leashed until it has re-acclimated.
  • Wild animals will be displaced. Beware of snakes, raccoons, etc.
  • Be mindful of downed power lines and environmental hazards.
  • Be very careful when approaching strange animals. Even the friendly dog next door may be aggressive due to trauma, injury, a change in territorial boundaries, etc.
  • If you encounter a dead companion animal, help the owner by taking pictures, documenting ID and/or collar and noting any marks or tattoos. Take the information to your sheltering facility.
  • Standing water will produce increased generations of fleas, mosquitoes, ticks, heartworms and intestinal parasites. Increased vet care is advised.


Planning for Your Pets Before and/or During a Pandemic

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) have useful information on their websites regarding taking care of and planning for your pets during a pandemic, specifically COVID-19.

  • The CDC’s guidance regarding pets and COVID-19 can be found here.
  • The AVMA’s guidance and information related to pets and other animals can be found here.


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