27 February 2012

How to Prepare Your Pets for Disaster

For those of us with pets, it's important to make sure that our preparedness plans include them too. Below is a decent article on how to prepare your pet for disaster, from wikiHow:

How to Prepare Your Pets for Disaster
from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

When preparing your family, pets, me and home for disaster, the well-being and safety of your pets should also be considered. Pets can become disoriented, frightened, or be injured during a time of a disaster and being ready! to help them is an important part of keeping your disaster response focused and effective. This article suggests how you can care for pets during and after a disaster to ensure that your pets are as prepared as the rest of your family!

  1. Be aware that the reaction of your pets during a disaster event will be based on instincts and fear. Loud noises, moving ground (earthquakes, etc.), flashes of lightning and thunder, increasing water levels, etc., can lead to your pets abandoning their usual places of safety to find new ones. For this reason, it is important to increase the chances of your pet being located and returned to you as the disaster event eases:
    • Ensure that your pets are tagged or microchipped to make ownership clear. (Microchipping is available through many veterinarians and animal welfare organizations.)
    • Always keep your pets' ID tags current with their name, your phone number, and your current address, including your email. Add both a landline and a mobile phone number.
    • Take digital photos of each of your pets. Print off a copy for each pet; this will help you to ask others if they've seen your pet if you're separated. It is also recommended to include a photo of you with your pet, in case you're separated and people need to match you to your pet.
    • A flashing collar or ID tag can help you to find a lost pet at night.
    • Know your pets' common hiding places. These should be checked first before looking further afield.

  2. Keep your pets' immunization up-to-date at all times. Not only is this important for their ongoing health but it is also essential for protection from disease during an emergency situation. Keep immunization cards or records and the vet's phone number in an easily accessible place and be sure to notify all of the family where they can find this information in a hurry. Keep copies in a plastic bag in your pet's survival kit, to allow shelter or rescuers to know the vaccination/health status of your pet.
    • Make a list of your pets' medications. If your pet is on medications, write down the exact names of the medications. During an emergency, being able to refer to this information easily will ease any panic and helps those who don't know your pets as well to do the right thing for them.

  3. Prepare a pet First Aid/survival kit at the same time that you update the family one. It can be helpful to keep these kits together, or to at least have clear and accessible locations for them that each responsible member of the family knows about. The survival kit should be ready-packed to grab at all times in case you need to leave the house in a hurry: Think "Grab pet and survival kit." The kit should contain:
    • Any medication needed (keep this refreshed), and pet first aid supplies.
    • Emergency food supplies. Have at least 3 days of food.
    • Emergency water supplies. When planning the amount of water for your family, always include pets in the estimate. Also note the location of any outdoor water locations your pet usually uses that self-fill, such as pots, buckets, a stream, etc., as these may be important water resources to draw from during a disaster.
    • Harnesses and safety leashes.
    • Travel bowls for food and drink - at least two.
    • A can or tin opener if needed for food cans/tins.
    • Photos of your pets, at least one of you with your pet. Place in a plastic bag.
    • Emergency contact list with numbers for vet, emergency services, local authorities, and animal rescue centers. Also include the emergency contact for an out of region friend or family member. Place in a plastic bag.
    • Litter tray and litter for cats; poo bags for dogs.
    • Pieces of newspaper and pet-safe cleaning solution for quick clean-ups.
    • Towel or blanket suitable for your pets. One per pet is probably a good idea.

  4. Have a pet carrier or crate for each pet. During a time of an emergency, it is far better to have a proper carrier than to make one up that could fall apart. Knowing that your pet is safe in their carrier will remove a lot of worry from your mind and makes them super easy to move from place to place.
    • If you have to stay in emergency accommodation, having your pet's own carrier can make it easier for your pet to be accommodated.
    • Have leashes or harnesses for pets that are too large for a carrier, or where the carrier size might compromise space for passengers.
    • If you must make a last-minute emergency pet-carrier, consider zip-tying 2 milk cartons together, or securely duct taping the lid onto a sturdy plastic clothes hamper. This is better than leaving a cat behind, or putting a snappy small dog on a leash.
    • If you know your dog does not react well to stressful situations, have a muzzle in your emergency kit.

  5. Develop a pet buddy system. Pets, unlike service animals, may not be allowed in some emergency shelters, particularly in urban areas. Talk to your family, friends and neighbors about planning how you will help each other in the event of an emergency, and where emergency supplies have been stored.
    • Designate an out-of-state/province friend or relative as contact, as well as a local person you trust. A contact can be used by family members or others to call if you are separated from each other. Identify a location where you can reunite.
    • Make note of where animal rescue shelters are in your area, or of people who can take pets in the event of an emergency that causes you to evacuate from your home.
    • Be prepared to help other pets you see roaming loose where this is safe to do so. Naturally, if you are afraid that the pet may be diseased, rabid, or dangerous, keep your distance. But where you know the pet or figure out it is safe, try to help care for it and get it back to its owner. Even if you simply alert pet welfare authorities where the pet is located, or get it to a central care point, this is a kind and helpful gesture that will help the owners too.

  6. Know what to do if you must leave your home. After ensuring you have all family members ready, collect your pets. Do not leave pets behind unless you cannot find them – many pets won't be able to survive if you're gone for more than a day. Cover your pets with a towel or blanket to calm them if needed, and place in their own pet carriers. If your pet is too large for a carrier or the room taken up in your car is too much, place your pet on a leash.
    • Don't take toys or bedding – grab the pet survival kit only. Act urgently, think safety, and ensure enough space in your transportation – these should be your main priorities.

  7. Always take time to comfort and soothe your pet as soon as possible. They will be as afraid as you are. Spending time with your pet during a disaster situation can also comfort you and your children a great deal.
This video clearly shows what to pack in your pet's disaster evacuation kit.

  • Have all of your items stored in a bag or a container in an accessible place so you can grab it in case you need to leave your house in a hurry.
  • Place Rescue Pet Decals on your windows and doors to alert rescue teams to also save your pets inside the house.
  • Email copies of pet photos and veterinary records to a family email account that can be accessed from any location.
Things You'll Need
  • Items for your pet disaster survival kit as listed above, plus container to keep all items in (blankets/towels can sit on top)
  • Emergency contact list
  • Carrier, crate, other suitable pet mover item
  • Water and food supplies suitable for your pets
  • Family meeting about helping pets during an emergency

Sources and Citations
Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Prepare Your Pets for Disaster. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.


  1. All sound advice - let's hope we never have to use it.

    1. We rotate about 6-7 months of dry dog food for our two mutts. Stored in their original bags, that's about as much as we can without our dogs turning their noses up to it. Another upside, in the event of a pet food recall we won't have fed them tainted food before it's made public.

      Don't forget licenses either, in my state an unlicensed dog is a public nuisance per se, and they can be shot by police for just about any reason. Also, while we haven't done it, considered writing a check to one of the many "service dog certification" services on the web. Who knows, might increase the chance of keeping us all together in the event we have to evacuate, or to avoid a "no dogs allowed" policy?

    2. Yes, hopefully, we never have to use any of our preparations, including these kinds. Unfortunately, it's unlikely that one can make it through life without some kind of disaster occurring at some point.

      And, the other tips in these comments are worthwhile too. Although, most of the "official" emergency shelter information and related advice seems to indicate that pets are allowed, it is always a good idea to have a Plan B.