According to a 2019–20 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association, 67% of US households (roughly 85 million families) own a pet.1 While the Federal Emergency Management Agency said that in 2017 disasters affected more than 25 million Americans (almost 8% of the population).2 So it’s important to learn about disaster preparedness for your pet.
Our pets are precious family members. So, caring for them during a disaster is extremely important. In an emergency, your pets will be even more dependent on you for their safety and well-being. Your pets are going to become very anxious during a natural disaster. Being prepared and anticipating your pets’ needs during and after an emergency will help them (and you) cope with disruptions to their daily routines.
Table of Contents
Before an Emergency
Familiarize yourself with the types of disasters that could affect your area and plan accordingly. Although, sometimes disasters strike without warning so you should ensure these basics are taken care of before you start any long-term planning:
- Make sure your pet wears a collar with tags that contain your most updated contact information. You might want to include the number of a friend or family member who doesn’t live in your area in case you do need to evacuate and aren’t reachable.
- Microchip your pet—make sure to register the microchip with the company and that your contact details are up to date.
- Keep a leash near your main doorway.
- Make sure any carriers, harnesses, or pet seat belts are near or in the car so that you can drive away safely with your pet.
- Prepare an Emergency Disaster and First Aid Kit for your pet (use our Emergency Prep & First Aid Checklist or get our booklet on how to protect your dog in an emergency to help) and keep near your main doorway.
Make a plan
- While shelters and hotels are getting better at accommodating pets during an emergency, do not assume that you will be allowed to bring your pet. It’s important to contact your local office of emergency management to verify that there will be shelters in your area that take people and their pets.
- Also, contact potential hotels on your evacuation route to find out if they accept pets. Make sure to ask about any restrictions on number, size, and species. Keep a list in your emergency kit. And call ahead for a reservation as soon as you think you may leave your home.
- In case you’re not home during an emergency, make sure that you have a trusted neighbor who can evacuate with your pets if needed.
- Locate animal hospitals along your evacuation route or in the area where you may be seeking temporary shelter and add their contact details to your emergency kit.
Create an emergency kit for your pet
We put together a handy Emergency and First Aid Kit preparation checklist in our comprehensive e-booklet on how to protect your dog in an emergency.
Practice evacuating your pet
- Make sure that your pets are trained to be comfortable in their carriers/kennels.
- Make sure to practice transporting your pets. Get them used to driving in cars. If you don’t have a car, make sure to plan on how you will evacuate. Call your local office of emergency management to find out about transportation options during a disaster.
- Your pets might hide when stressed. It’s important to know their hiding places and if needed, practice catching them.
If it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets. It’s important to make plans for ALL of your pets and animals under your care. Please never leave your animals chained up outside. You have no way of knowing how long you will be kept out of the area. And you may not be able—or allowed—to go back for your pets. So, bring them with you!!
Some Great Resources
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals—this also has some good information specific to other animals
- The Humane Society of the United States
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention