If you are like millions of other animal owners across the nation, your pet is an important part of your household and member of your family. The likelihood that you and your animals will survive an emergency in the future, such as a fire, flood, tornado, or terrorist attack, depends largely on emergency planning that you do today.
Some of the things you can do to prepare for these unexpected events, such as assembling an emergency animal supply kit and developing a pet care buddy system, are the same for any situation. However, you will need to make different sets of plans for your pets in advance depending on whether you decide to stay put in an emergency or evacuate to a safer location. Keep in mind that what’s best for you is also typically what’s best for your animals.
If you must evacuate, take your pets with you, as long as it’s possible to do so. Unfortunately, if you are going to a public shelter, it is important to understand that animals may not be allowed inside. Plan and know some shelter alternatives that will work for both you and your pets.
Make a back-up emergency plan in case you can’t care for your animals yourself. Develop a buddy system with neighbors, friends, and relatives to be sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you cannot. Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to make it on your own for at least three days, and maybe longer.
1) Prepare – Get a Pet Emergency Supply Kit
Just as you do with your family’s emergency supply kit, think first about the basics for survival, particularly food and water. Consider making two kits. In one, put everything you and your pets will need to stay where you are. The other should be a lightweight, smaller version of the first kit that you can take with you if you and your pets have to get away. Be sure to review your kits regularly to ensure that their contents, especially the food and medicine, are fresh.
Food. Keep at least three days worth of food in an airtight, waterproof container.
Water. Store at least three days worth of water specifically for your pets, in addition to the water you need for yourself and your family.
Medicine and medical records. Keep an extra supply of all of the medicines that your pet takes on a regular basis in a waterproof container.
First aid kit. Talk to your veterinarian about what is most appropriate for your pet’s emergency medical needs. Most kits include cotton bandage rolls, tape, scissors, antibiotic ointment, flea and tick prevention, latex gloves, isopropyl alcohol, and saline solution. Also include a pet first aid reference book.
Collar with ID tag, harness or leash. Your pet should wear a collar with its rabies tag and identification at all times. Include a backup leash, collar, and ID tag in your pet’s emergency supply kit. In addition, place copies of your pet’s registration information, adoption papers, vaccination documents, and medical records in a clean plastic bag or waterproof container and add them to your kit. You should also consider talking with your veterinarian about a microchip for permanent identification, as well as enrolling your pet in a recovery database.
Crate or other pet carrier. If you need to evacuate in an emergency situation, take your pets and animals with you, provided that it is practical to do so. In many cases, your ability to take your pets will be aided by having a safe, sturdy, comfortable crate or carrier ready to go. The carrier should be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around, and lie down in.
Sanitation. Include pet litter and a litter box (if appropriate), as well as newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags, and household chlorine bleach to provide for your pet’s sanitation needs. You can use bleach as a disinfectant (dilute nine parts water to one part bleach), or in an emergency situation, you can also use it to purify water. Use 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented or color safe bleaches, or those with added cleaners.
A picture of you and your pet together. If you become separated from your pet during an emergency, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist you in identifying your pet. Include detailed information about species, breed, age, sex, color, and distinguishing characteristics.
Familiar items. Put favorite toys, treats, or bedding in the kit. Familiar items can help reduce your pet’s stress.
2) Plan – What You Will Do in an Emergency
Be prepared to assess the situation. Use whatever you have on hand to take care of yourself and ensure your pet’s safety in the case of an emergency. Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the emergency, the first important decision you have to make is whether you will stay put or get away.
You should understand and plan for both possibilities. Use common sense and the information you are learning here to determine if there is an immediate danger. In any emergency, local authorities may or may not be able to quickly provide information about the situation and what you should do. However, you can always watch TV, listen to the radio, or check the Internet for instructions. If you’re specifically told to evacuate, stay in, or seek medical treatment, do so immediately.
Create a plan to get away. Plan how you will assemble your pets and anticipate where you will go. If you must evacuate, take your pets with you as long as that is a practical option. If you go to a public shelter, keep in mind your animals may not be allowed inside. Secure appropriate lodging in advance, depending on the number and type of animals in your care. Consider family or friends that would be willing to take in both you and your pets in an emergency. Other options may include: a hotel or motel that takes pets or a boarding facility, such as a kennel or veterinary hospital, that is near an evacuation facility or your family’s meeting place. Find out before an emergency happens if any of these facilities in your area might be viable options for you and your pets.
Develop a buddy system. Plan with neighbors, friends, or relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so. Talk with your pet care buddy about your evacuation plans and show them where you keep your pet’s emergency supply kit. In addition, designate specific locations – one in your immediate neighborhood and another farther away – where you will meet in case of an emergency.
Talk to your pet’s veterinarian about emergency planning. Discuss the types of things that you should include in your pet’s emergency first aid kit. Get the names of veterinarians or veterinary hospitals in other cities where you might need to seek temporary shelter. You should also consider talking with your veterinarian about a microchip for permanent identification, as well as enrolling your pet in a recovery database. If your pet has a microchip, keeping your emergency contact information up to date and listed with a reliable recovery database is essential to helping you reunite with your pet.
Gather contact information for emergency animal treatment. Make a list of contact information and addresses of area animal control agencies, animal shelters, and emergency veterinary hospitals. Keep one copy of these phone numbers with you and one in your pet’s emergency supply kit. Obtain “Pets Inside” stickers and place them on your doors or windows; these stickers include information on the number and types of pets in your home in order to alert firefighters and rescue workers. Consider putting a phone number on the sticker where you could be reached in an emergency. And, if time permits, remember to write the words “Evacuated with Pets” across the stickers, should you flee with your pets.
3) Stay Informed – Know About the Types of Emergencies
Some of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected, such as assembling an emergency supply kit for yourself, your family, and your pets, is the same regardless of the type of emergency. However, it’s important to stay informed about what might happen and know what types of emergencies are likely to affect your region, as well as emergency plans that have been established by your state and local government. For more information about how to prepare, visit www.ready.gov or call 1-800-BE-READY.
Be prepared to adapt this information to your personal circumstances and make every effort to follow instructions received from authorities on the scene. With these simple preparations, you can be ready for the unexpected. Those who take the time to prepare themselves and their pets will likely encounter less difficulty, stress, and worry in these situations. Take the time now to get yourself and your pet ready.
It is always important for you to be prepared in the case of an emergency, and it’s equally important to consider your pets when making your emergency plans. That is why The Anti-Cruelty Society offers Emergency Preparedness Kits, which include:
One Pet Planner
- This helps organize your pet’s information for convenience and emergency preparedness.
Two “Pet Inside” Stickers
- These let emergency personnel know how many pets are in your home.
- If you do evacuate with your pet, make sure to remove the sticker or mark accordingly to let emergency personnel know your pets are out of the home and safe.
Purchasing a Preparedness Kit
If you would like to purchase one of our Emergency Preparedness Kits, or you have questions about emergency planning with pets, please contact our retail store at (312) 645-8006 or firstname.lastname@example.org. These kits are also available in our Retail Store, which is located in our Adoption Center at 510 N. LaSalle.