Most people consider their pets to be members of their family. Follow these guidelines to assure your pet's safety and well-being in case of a disaster or emergency.
How to Prepare
Think about what your pet will need if their routine environment changes drastically for a week. Consider having a supply of:
- Food and water
- Sturdy leashes or harnesses
- Carriers that are large enough for the animal to stand comfortably, turn around in and lie down. (Your pet many have to stay in the carrier for hours at a time, unattended).
- Any medicine your pet may be taking
- Grooming tools
- Litter box and waste collection scoops and bags
- Vaccination records
- Written instructions on your pet's feeding schedule
- A photo of you with your pet to confirm its ownership
- I.D. — Your pet must be wearing I.D. tags at all times. Be sure to have your cell phone number on your pet's I.D. tag
- Other useful items include paper towels, household bleach, trash bags, a pet first aid kit and the vet's phone number.
When the Emergency Happens
- In case you're not at home, make arrangements with a trusted neighbor to take your pets and their emergency supplies and meet you at a specified location.
- If you have to evacuate your home, the single most important thing that you can do to protect your pet is to take them with you. Animals left behind in a disaster are in danger of being injured, lost or dying. If you are traveling with your pet, do not leave them unattended in the vehicle.
- Remember, Red Cross shelters cannot accept pets due to health and safety regulations. The only exception to this is for service animals.
- Although shelters will not accept pets, pet sheltering services will be provided near the shelter site by animal control agencies. If you are sheltering in place in your home, bring your pets indoors as soon as local authorities say there is an imminent problem. Keep pets under your direct control. When you're certain it's okay to come out of your home, keep your pets on leashes. Familiar landmarks and smells around your house may be gone and your pet could easily become disoriented.
When the Emergency is Over
Be patient with your pets after a disaster. Try to get them back into their normal routines as soon as possible. Be ready for behavioral problems that may result from the stress brought on by the emergency. Generally, pets take their behavior cues from their owners. The calmer and more confident the owner is, the more secure and relaxed the pet will be. If health or behavior problems persist with your pet, contact your veterinarian at once.