How to Make a Disaster Plan for Your Pets

It is extremely important for pet owners to have a plan in place in the event of a disaster or evacuation. With pets being a special part of the family, it’s important for them to be included in the family’s evacuation plans. We’d like to bring awareness to the importance of planning ahead to ensure that your pets are taken care of if a disaster were to occur.

Plan Ahead for Taking Shelter

In the event of a disaster, it is important to have a designated place for you and your pets to take shelter. This will prevent unnecessary stress and confusion during an emergency situation. Here are some things to consider when choosing a shelter.

  • Not all storm shelters will allow pets, so it is important to contact local disaster shelters to find out ahead of time
  • Contact your veterinarian for information regarding pet friendly safe havens
  • Local animal shelters may provide emergency shelter and/or have a foster plan for temporary placement in a home outside the area
  • Make a list of hotels outside of your area that allow pets – this could be a safe option for you and your pets to take shelter together
  • Be aware of road closures and all possible routes to get to your chosen shelter locations

Keep Your Pets Prepared

It is just as important for your pets to be prepared for a disaster as the rest of your family.

  • Have an updated emergency kit for your pet. The Red Cross has designed a Disaster Safety Checklist for your pets
  • Be sure that your pet is current on vaccinations and has been micro-chipped. In the event that your pet is lost during a disaster, having them micro-chipped can be their ticket home.
  • If your pet has to be placed in an animal shelter during a disaster, you want to be sure they are vaccinated and protected from the spread of disease. Be sure that your pet is current on vaccinations and has been micro-chipped. In the event that your pet is lost during a disaster, having them micro-chipped can be their ticket home.
  • If your pet has to be placed in an animal shelter during a disaster, you want to be sure they are vaccinated and protected from the spread of disease
  • Be sure that you have proper pet carriers to transport your pets during a disaster. If you have a pet that suffers from anxiety of any kind, whether storm or separation, talk to your veterinarian about possible medications that may help during disaster situations.
  • It may help to have an old shirt, or any item that has your scent, to keep inside your pet’s carrier – this has been shown to provide comfort to pets in a stressful situation
  • Get a Rescue Alert Sticker to place on the outside of your home to alert rescue groups that there are animals inside your home.

Designate a Caregiver for Your Pet

This is something that deserves careful thought and consideration. There are two types of caregivers that need to be designated for any given disaster situation.

  • Temporary Caregiver: This is someone who you will choose to provide temporary care during a disaster situation. A neighbor or someone who lives close by would be a good choice as well as someone who is often at home during the day when you are gone to work. This person should have access to your house and should be a familiar face to your pet. Be sure that your temporary caregiver is aware of your Disaster Plan and your chosen safe haven for your pet
  • Permanent Caregiver: This is the person that you designate to take care of your pet in the event that you can no longer care for them. Consider choosing someone who has either cared for your pet in the past or has experience caring for animals. Once you choose someone who is willing to take on this responsibility, discuss your expectations and be sure that your permanent caregiver fully understands how to properly take care of your beloved pet.

Prepare for Evacuation

In the event of an evacuation, it is best to always be prepared for the worst case scenario – in other words, assume that you will not be able to return for at least a month.

  • If you have a close friend or family member that lives in a nearby or reasonably located city, you may want to designate them as a potential temporary caregiver for your pet in the event of evacuation
  • Have an emergency kit with all of your pets basic needs located in your house near an exit for convenient access
  • Bring your pet inside immediately if extreme weather is predicted – pets are likely to wander during bad weather if kept outside

When disaster strikes, having a proper Disaster Plan will give you peace of mind to know that your pets will be properly taken care of – because after all, our pets are our family.


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