U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations (AMO) from Tucson, Ariz., rescue two adults and a dog from the Cape Fear waterway while on a Search and Rescue (SAR) Mission which originated in Raleigh, N.C., on Sept. 17, 2018. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection photo by Jaime Rodriguez Sr.)

Disaster Preparedness for Your Pet: Don’t Leave Animals Out of Emergency Plan

Pets are family – do you have a plan for your pet in an emergency? Including pets in emergency plans helps your family’s ability to respond to an emergency. Be prepared: make a plan and prepare a disaster kit for your pet.

Leaving pets out of evacuation plans can put pets, pet owners, and first responders in danger. Even if you try to create a safe place for them, pets left behind during a disaster are likely to be injured, lost, or worse. Before a disaster strikes, find out what type of shelters and assistance are available in your area to accommodate pets and include pets in your family disaster plan to keep them safe during an emergency.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Start today by including your pet in your family’s preparedness plans to protect the health of yourself, your family, and your pet.

Make a Plan

To get started, familiarize yourself with the types of disasters that could affect your area and consider your options for providing care for your pet(s).

Disasters can happen without warning, so be prepared:

  • Make sure your pet(s) wear collars and tags with up-to-date contact information and other identification.
  • Microchip your pet(s) – this is one of the best ways to ensure that you and your pet are reunited if you are separated. Always be sure to register the microchip with the manufacturer and keep your contact information up to date with the microchip company.
  • Purchase a pet carrier for each of your pets (write your pet’s name, your name, and contact information on each carrier).
    • Familiarize your pet with its carrier before a crisis.
    • Practice transporting your pet by taking them for rides in a vehicle similar to one you would be evacuating in.
    • Practice catching your pet, if needed.
  • Keep a leash and/or carrier near the exit.
  • Make sure you have proper equipment for pets to ride in the car (carriers, harnesses, pet seatbelts).
  • If you do not have a car, make arrangements with neighbors, family, and friends. You can also contact your local government to learn about transportation options during a disaster.

Sheltering in Place

When sheltering at home with your pet, make sure the room chosen is pet-friendly in the following ways:

  • Select a safe room, preferably an interior room with no (or few) windows.
  • Remove any toxic chemicals or plants.
  • Close off small areas where frightened cats could get stuck (such as vents or beneath heavy furniture).

Sheltering During an Evacuation

  • Contact your local emergency management office and ask if they offer accommodations for owners and their pets.
  • If accommodations are needed for your pet(s):
    • Contact local veterinary clinics, boarding facilities, and local animal shelters. Visit the Humane Society website to find a shelter in your area.
    • Contact family or friends outside the evacuation area.
    • Contact a pet-friendly hotel, particularly along evacuation routes.
    • Remember to take your pet’s emergency kit with you.
  • Make plans before disaster strikes for where you and your pets will go. Be aware that pets may not be allowed in local human shelters, unless they are service animals.

Prepare a Pet Disaster Kit

Prepare a disaster kit for your pet(s) so evacuation will go smoothly. Ask your veterinarian for help putting it together. Some examples of what to include are listed below; when making the kit, think about your pet’s basic needs, prescriptions, and paperwork.

Disaster Supplies for Pets

  • Leash, collar with ID, and harness
  • Appropriate-sized pet carriers with bedding and toys
  • Food (in airtight waterproof containers or cans) and water for at least 2 weeks for each pet
  • Food and water bowls and a manual can opener
  • Plastic bags for dog poop and a litter box and litter for cats
  • Cleaning supplies for accidents (paper towels, plastic bags, disinfectant)
  • Medications for at least 2 weeks, instructions and treats used to give the medications, and a pharmacy contact for refills
  • Flea and tick medication and heartworm preventative for 1 month
  • Documents
    • Photocopied veterinary records (rabies certificate, vaccinations, recent FeLV/FIV test results for cats, prescriptions, etc.)
    • Registration information
    • Recent photos of your pet
    • Contact information for you and friends or relatives
    • Boarding instructions, such as feeding schedule, medications, and any known allergies and behavior problems
    • Microchip information
  • A pet first aid book and first aid kit
  • Documents, medications, and food should be stored in waterproof containers

Read more at CDC

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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