Whether it's a large-scale natural catastrophe or
an unforeseen emergency that causes you to leave your home
temporarily, everyone's family can benefit from having a household
evacuation plan in place before disaster strikes. Every disaster
plan must include your pets!
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) offers the
following tips to pet owners designing an emergency safety plan:
If you evacuate your home, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND!
Pets most likely cannot survive on their own; and if by some
remote chance they do, you may not be able to find them when you
For public health reasons, many emergency shelters cannot
accept pets. Find out which motels and hotels in your area allow
pets -- well in advance of needing them. Include your local animal
shelter's number in your list of emergency numbers -- they might
be able to provide information concerning pets during a disaster.
Make sure identification tags are up to date and securely
fastened to your pet's collar. If possible, attach the address
and/or phone number of your evacuation site. If your pet gets
lost, his tag is his ticket home. Make sure you have a current
photo of your pet for identification purposes.
Make sure you have a secure pet carrier, leash or harness for
your pet so that if he panics, he can't escape.
Take pet food, bottled water, medications, veterinary records,
cat litter/pan, can opener, food dishes, first aid kit and other
supplies with you in case they're not available later. While the
sun is still shining, consider packing a "pet survival" kit which
could be easily deployed if disaster hits.
If you are unable to return to your home right away, you may
need to board your pet. Most boarding kennels, veterinarians and
animal shelters will need your pet's medical records to make sure
all vaccinations are current. Include copies in your "pet
survival" kit along with a photo of your pet.
If it is impossible to take your pet with you to temporary
shelter, contact friends, family, veterinarians, or boarding
kennels to arrange for care. Make sure medical and feeding
information, food, medicine and other supplies accompany your pet
to his foster home. NOTE: Some animal shelters will provide
temporary foster care for owned pets in times of disaster, but
this should be considered only as a last resort.
If you have no alternative but to leave your pet at home,
there are some precautions you must take, but remember that
leaving your pet at home alone can place your animal in great
danger! Confine your pet to a safe area inside -- NEVER leave your
pet chained outside! Place a notice outside in a visible area,
advising what pets are in the house and where they are located.
Provide a phone number where you or a contact can be reached as
well as the name and number of your vet.
Not only are pets affected by disaster, but the other animals in
the disaster area are affected as well. The HSUS offers these basic
tips for people who encounter wildlife or have livestock on their
Wild animals often seek higher ground which, during floods,
eventually become 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
Wildlife often seek refuge from flood waters on upper levels
of a home and may remain inside even after the water recedes. If
you meet a rat or 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 other predators
who will try to feed on the carcasses of reptiles, amphibians and
small mammals who have been drowned or crushed in their burrows or
Often, during natural disasters, mosquitoes and dead animal
carcasses may present disease problems. Outbreaks of anthrax,
encephalitis and other diseases may occur. Contact your local
emergency management office for help!
If you see an injured or stranded animal in need of
assistance, or you need help with evicting an animal from your
home, please contact your local animal control office or animal
EVACUATE LIVESTOCK WHENEVER POSSIBLE. Arrangements for
evacuation, including routes and host sites, should be made in
advance. Alternate routes should be mapped out in case the planned
route is inaccessible.
The evacuation sites should have or be able to readily obtain
food, water, veterinary care, handling equipment and facilities.
Trucks, trailers, and other vehicles suitable for transporting
livestock (appropriate for transporting each specific type of
animal) should be available along with experienced handlers and
drivers to transport them. Whenever possible, the animals should
be accustomed to these vehicles in advance so they're less
frightened and easier to move.
If evacuation is not possible, a decision must be made whether
to move large animals to available shelter or turn them outside.
This decision should be determined based on the type of disaster
and the soundness and location of the shelter (structure).
All animals should have some form of identification that will
help facilitate their return.
Your disaster plan should include a list of emergency phone
numbers for local agencies that can assist you if disaster strikes -
- including your veterinarian, state veterinarian, local animal
shelter, animal care and control, county extension service, local
agricultural schools and the American Red Cross. These numbers
should be kept with your disaster kit in a secure, but easily
For additional information, please contact The Humane Society of
the United States
2100 L. Street, NW
Washington, DC. 20037
Attn: Disaster Services Program
Phone: (202) 452-1100.