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 Pets and Disaster

Protecting Your Pets During a Disaster

In case of Disaster, Protect your pets

Everyone can benefit from having a household evacuation plan in place. It is the best way to protect a family in case of disaster, whether it’s a large-scale natural catastrophe or an emergency that causes the family to leave the home temporarily. Every disaster plan MUST include pets.

Keep up-to-date identification on the family dog or cat at all times. Make sure that the collar is properly fitted (avoid chain link collars for dogs and use breakaway collars for cats.) It is a good idea to have a friend’s or family member’s phone number on the pet identification tag in case the family cannot be reached.

Have current color photographs of the family pet, showing any distinguishing markings, with the family's emergency supplies. If pet becomes separated from the family, these photos will help identify the pet.

If a disaster is imminent, bring pets inside immediately! Get animals under control as quickly as possible either on a leash or inside a carrier.

Disasters often strike suddenly, while the family is away from home. To improve the pet’s chances for safety leave it inside, with collars and identification tags, when the family goes out. Consider an arrangement with a neighbor who would be willing to evacuate the pet in the family's absence. Make sure that person knows the animals, can locate the family's emergency supplies, and has a key to the house. Provide him or her with instructions and phone numbers.

If you Evacuate, Take your Pets

An animal’s best protection is to be with the family, but remember, taking a pet requires special planning since most shelters do not allow pets.

Take the following steps to ensure a smooth evacuation:

  • Locate a safe place for pets before disaster strikes. Evacuation shelters generally accept only service animals that assist people with disabilities.
  • Contact the American Automobile Association for The Pet Book, which lists hotels and motels that accept pets. Call hotels and motels beforehand to ask under what conditions they accept pets, and whether there are restrictions as to the species, size or number of animals.
  • Call local boarding kennels and veterinarians with boarding facilities. Ask about their ability to house animals in case of emergency and/or disaster. Ask friends or family members whether they will provide foster care for pets.
  • For locating a "pet friendly" shelter during natural disasters, please click here.
  • Please refer to National Hurricane Centers Pet Plan for additional information and assistance.

Evacuating Livestock

Whether or not a family evacuates, owners may want to consider evacuating horses if they are maintained in stables or small pastures in urban areas where they will be unable to avoid debris and collapsing buildings. If it is decided the family must evacuate do not try to evacuate with livestock in trailer unless there is sufficient time.

Young Calf

If a family cannot be on the road 48 hours before the storm is due to hit, the family could easily be caught in traffic and high winds. Traffic on highways will be moving very slowly. A livestock trailer is very unstable in high winds and high winds will arrive eight to 10 hours before the storm.

Think debris. Store and secure everything possible. Plan to turn over and tie down picnic tables or anything else too large to store.

Put ID on animals.

Have the following equipment on hand and know in advance how to use it: Chain saw, ladder, axe, shovel, pry bar, come along, metal cable, block and tackle, wire cutters, tool box and gasoline.

Photograph animals and property. Have a photo of a family member with each animal.

Have a two-week supply of animal feed on hand.

During a hurricane, the safest place for livestock is a large pasture with a low area.

  • Free of toxic trees and foliage.
  • No overhead power lines
  • Well away from areas that might generate wind driven debris.
  • It should have both low areas that animals can shelter in during the storm, and higher areas that will not be flooded after the storm.
  • It should have woven wire fencing.
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