Make arrangements for your pets as part of your household disaster planning. If you must evacuate your home, it's always best to take your pets with you. For health and space reasons, pets will not be allowed in public emergency shelters. In most states, trained guide dogs for the blind, hearing impaired or handicapped will be allowed to stay in emergency shelters with their owners. Check with local emergency management officials for more information.
- Have at least a weeks supply of food and water on hand for each animal in your household. The food should be dry and in sturdy water tight containers. Be sure to rotate the water at least once every other month. Animals should never drink flood water or any water that may have become contaminated as a result of a disaster.
- If an animal is on long term medication, try to keep a backup supply on hand. Veterinary offices may not be open for some time following a disaster. If the medication needs to be refrigerated, keep an ice chest on hand to store it in.
- Always keep a collar and tag on companion animals. You may want to consider micro chipping your animals as a more permanent form of identification.
- Start a buddy system with your neighbors, so they will check on your animals during a disaster in case you are not home. Agree to do the same for them.
- Have a way to contain your animals in case you are relocated from your home.
For cats, have a cat carrier to evacuate each cat in your household. (In an emergency, a pillowcase is an alternate way to transport a cat.)
For dogs, have a leash for each dog. (A harness is better in case the dog panics and tries to slip out of the collar.) Include an identification tag for your pet that has your name, address, and phone number.
- Have photos of all of your animals to take with you if you have to evacuate. These pictures can help reunite you with a lost animal. (Most animal shelters will take lost reports after a disaster, a picture of your pet attached to the report, may help to identify and return them to you.)
- Identify locations out of the disaster area where you can take your animals should you have to evacuate. Include boarding kennels, veterinary clinics, hotels and motels, along with the homes of family and friends. Keep your pet's vaccinations current and know where the records are. Most kennels require proof of current vaccinations before accepting a pet.
- Know where the animal shelters are located in your area. You may need to visit them after a disaster to look for a missing animal.
- Include some toys for your animals in your survival kit. Animals who are confined for long periods of time can become bored and playing with the toys may relieve some of the stress the animal is feeling.
- Companion animals and people can provide a great deal of comfort to each other after a disaster, but the behavior of your pets may also change. Normally quiet and friendly pets may become aggressive or defensive. Remember, they are scared too.
Disaster Animal Response Team (DART)