Your Pets & Disasters

Remember the film footage of the dog stranded on the house roof during the Midwest floods? Or the make-shift shelters overflowing with pets after the California earthquake? In every large scale disaster, stories of pets in crisis surface and often are balanced by stories of families desperately seeking their lost pets. As a responsible pet owner, there are some things you should do to provide your pet(s) with the best possible chance of surviving a disaster-whether it is a house fire, flood, or other disaster.


  1. Have a secure crate, cage, or container for each pet-and make sure your pet is accustomed to it.
  2. Have a fact card ready to attach firmly to each container. That card should include: pet's name, owner's name, address, and phone number-if security is an issue, provide a phone number where you are certain someone can contact you. Include pertinent pet information-medical needs, special behavioral notes, etc.
  3. Always have identification on your pet's body. A permanent ID (tattoo or microchip) is best, but license, name tag, or Veterinary ID on a break-away collar can make the difference between temporary and permanent separation for your pet.
  4. Plan where you will take your pet(s) in the event of an evacuation. (Most shelters will not allow animals.) Have several places lined up since different disasters close different routes.
  5. Keep the medical history of your pet(s) with other valuable papers you would take in an evacuation. Many veterinary clinics and kennels will provide emergency housing, but require proof of shots.


    Take the following items:

  1. One week's supply of pet food, as well as bowls.
  2. Medicine and instructions.
  3. Favorite blanket/toy
  4. Leash
  5. Proof of shots
  6. If your water supply is safe, a jug or two of water.

While no one can assure complete success in an evacuation, the goal is for pet owners to realize they must take responsibility for their own pet's care during a disaster. By planning and preparing before disaster strikes, both you and your pet have a better chance of survival.

In evacuations for a nuclear disaster or some hazardous waste materials, the safest thing to do is close up your home and put pets in the basement with a large supply of water. Animals can exist without food, but water is essential.

Prepared by Rosemary R. Brasch for Animal-Vues, a community-based non-profit organization

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