Pet Preparedness

Animals Depend On Us, Care Enough To Plan

If you evacuate your home, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND! Pets most likely cannot survive on their own; and if they do, you may not be able to find them when you return.

Plan for Pet Disaster Needs

Ø Identifying shelter. For public health reasons, many emergency shelters cannot accept pets. Find out which motels and hotels in the area you plan to evacuate to allow pets -- well in advance of needing them. There are also a number of guides that list hotels/motels that permit pets and could serve as a starting point. 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.

Ø 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.

Ø 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.

Ø Make sure you have a secure pet carrier, leash or harness for your pet so that if he panics, he can't escape.

Prepare to Shelter Your Pet

Ø Call your local emergency management office, animal shelter, or animal control office to get advice and information. Ask how pets or large animals will be sheltered in an emergency and where these locations will be established.

Ø If you are unable to return to your home right away, you may need to board your pet. Find out where pet boarding facilities are located. Be sure to research some outside your local area in case local facilities close.

Ø Most boarding kennels, veterinarians and animal shelters will need your pet's medical records to make sure all vaccinations are current. Include copies of these documents in your "pet survival" kit along with a photo of your pet.

Ø Remember that leaving your pet at home alone after a significant disaster can place your animal in great danger! -- NEVER leave your pet alone or chained outside following a disaster!

During a Disaster

Ø Bring your pets inside immediately.

Ø Have newspapers on hand for sanitary purposes. Feed the animals moist or canned food so they will need less water to drink.

Ø Animals have instincts about severe weather changes and will often isolate themselves if they are afraid. Bringing them inside early can stop them from running away. Never leave a pet outside or tied up during a storm.

Ø Separate dogs and cats. Even if your dogs and cats normally get along, the anxiety of an emergency situation can cause pets to act irrationally. Keep small exotic pets (hamsters, guinea pigs, etc.) away from cats and dogs.

Ø In an emergency, you may have to take your birds with you. Talk with your veterinarian or local pet store about special food dispensers that regulate the amount of food a bird is given. Make sure that the bird is caged and the cage is covered by a thin cloth or sheet to provide security and filtered light.

After a Disaster

Ø If after a disaster you have to leave town, take your pets with you. Pets are unlikely to survive on their own.

Ø In the first few days after the disaster, leash your pets when they go outside. Always maintain close contact. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and your pet may become confused and lost. Also, snakes and other dangerous animals may be brought into the area with flood areas. Watch for hazards such as broken glass, downed power lines, metal snags, etc.

Ø The behavior of your pets may change after an emergency. Normally quiet and friendly pets may become aggressive or defensive. Watch animals closely. Leash dogs and place them in a fenced yard with access to shelter and water.

Disaster Supplies

  • Pet Food (preferably moist canned food so your pets requires less water)

  • Water

  • Pet carrier

  • Leash easily accessible (if appropriate)

  • Pet medication

  • Veterinary records

  • Toys for your pet (or other comfort item)

  • Sanitary items (to clean up after your pet)

Additional Resources

For more information or tips on how to prepare for your pet or specific information on equestrian or other livestock animals, contact your local animal control and regulation or local SPCA.

Humane Society of the United States:

Also visit the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website for detailed preparedness information for animals:

Download and print the Ready Burbank Pet Preparedness guide below.

Pet Disaster Preparedness (BW).pdf