Natural Disaster Planning for Pets

With the recent fires, hurricanes and floods, we thought it might be helpful to give you some tips on how best to prepare for a natural disaster so that your pet doesn’t end up homeless or injured. The recent Hurricane Harvey has displaced thousands of pets which are being shuttled around the U.S. to various shelters, most of which may never be reunited with their now homeless owners.

During natural disasters pets get lost in the chaos, many shelters won’t allow you to bring your pet with you for health reasons and many owners find that after their homes have been destroyed, they just can’t care for their pet anymore so the pets get left behind.

Very few owners have a plan in place for their pets should a natural disaster occur. Below we’ve collected some tips on how to protect your pets should your area be struck by a hurricane, flood or fire.

Hurricane Action Plan

  1. If you live in any region that has a hurricane season, plan to first designate a location that is hurricane-safe and that has enough room for your entire family and pets.
  2. In off season, plan a few drills with your family to ensure that everyone knows what to do and what their responsibilities are.
  3. Create an emergency kit for your pet that contains water, food, any necessary medications, basic first aid items, vet records and proof of ownership, an emergency contact list (veterinarian, local boarders, any helpful neighbors and friends).
  4. Be sure to have enough leashes and crates for all of your pets. During an emergency and in panic, pets can become stressed and exhibit abnormal behavior so it’s important to have a safe place to keep them.
  5. Confirm that all ID tags are up to date with your current contact information.
  6. Since you could be in a shelter or away from home for an extended period of time, make sure to include any items that may provide comfort to your pet such as blankets/beds, toys and treats.
  7. Following the hurricane be sure to keep your pets secure on leashes and do not allow them to near any water or liquid as it could be contaminated or near any debris or downed power lines.

Flood Action Plan

  1. If you live in a region affected by floods be sure have a meet up location with your family and confirm that it’s a safe place for pets as well. Run a few drills each year to ensure that everyone knows what to do in the event of an emergency.
  2. Know where your pets like to hide so that you can quickly grab them and evacuate.
  3. Just like in preparation for a hurricane, put together a pet emergency kit, have leashes and crates available for all pets, confirm that ID tags are up to date and do not allow your pets near any liquid, debris or downed power lines.
  4. In the event that you cannot evacuate, move to the upper floors, attic or roof until help can arrive. Keep your pet on a leash or in a crate so that they do not run away in panic.

Fire Action Plan

  1. As with living in any other area affected by natural disasters, have a plan and regularly run drills to ensure everyone knows what to do and what their responsibilities are.
  2. Just like previously mentioned, know where your pets’ favorite hiding places are, limit their access to unsafe spots and have a pet emergency kit handy.
  3. Remember that wildfires can move and spread very quickly so be prepared to evacuate as fast as possible with your pets and their belongings (see lists above).
  4. When you return home, keep in mind that the fires may have pushed wildlife into more residential areas which can pose a danger to your family and pets.
  5. Keep pets leased or in a crate to keep them safe.

In the event of a natural disaster or emergency, remember that your pets are your responsibility and that they depend on your for their safety and welfare. You can find further resources from The Humane Society of the United States, United Animal Nations or FEMA.