Plan for animals

Make sure your pets and livestock are ready.

For many of us, our pets are an important part of our family. For some of us, livestock are an important part of our livelihood. When preparing for an emergency, consider their needs too.

Tag and Microchip

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Keep your pet's tags current, and get them microchipped. This is the single most important thing you can do to help ensure that you will be reunited with a lost pet.

    • Make sure your pet is wearing a collar with visible ID tags at all times. Do this even if your pet normally stays indoors. Include your phone number on their tags.
    • A microchip implant is a secure form of identification that can't be lost. If you're separated from your pet, a microchip will ensure that veterinary professionals can contact you. If you move or change your phone number, make sure to update your microchip online or with your vet.

Assemble a kit

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Credit: Katherine Risseeuw
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Gather supplies for your animals now so you can care for them during an emergency. Include supplies that you'll need if you have to leave your home or neighborhood.

Sturdy harness, leash, cage, or carrier.

    • Animals can become frightened and stressed during an emergency. Make sure you have the supplies you need to control and contain them. For cats, choose a carrier that is large enough to serve as a temporary home.

Water, food, and sanitation supplies.

    • Include two week's worth of water, food, serving dishes, a manual can opener for canned food, clumping cat litter, a small litter box and scoop, and plastic bags for waste disposal. Pack your pet's kit in a backpack or travel carrierso it's easy to bring with you.

Medical information and supplies.

    • Include medications and documentation, stored in a waterproof container. You have to foster or board your pets. Include documentatio about feeding schedules, medicine schedules, medical conditions and records, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian. It can be helpful to have a pet first aid kit and book in case you need to care for wounds.

Comfort items.

    • If possible, include a pet bed, treats, favorite toys, grooming items, and anti-stress remedies.

Photos for identification.

    • Include photos and tag/microchip info for your animals in case they get lost. You can keep digital copies on your phone or in "the cloud" in case the paper versions get damaged or lost.

Be Prepared to evacuate

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Get ready to go.

You may need to leave your home or "evacuate" during an emergency. Sometimes pet owners will stay with their pets or leave their pets behind. But this is unsafe for both pet owners and rescue workers. During Hurricane Katrina, 44% of the people who chose not to evacuate said they didn't want to leave their pets. That's roughly 200,000 people.

Make plans now so that you can safely take your pets with you if you need to leave. And if you get separated, make sure you have ways to find them.

Have a Shelter Plan

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Stay informed.

If you need to leave your home, don't leave your pets behind. If it's not safe for you to stay, then it's unsafe for them to stay. During a large emergency, shelters will open to help deal with human needs. Stay informed to find out which ones will allow all pets and which will allow only service animals.

Have a backup plan.

In case you aren't able to bring animals with you to a shelter, have a few backup plans.

    • Check with friends and family who live outside your immediate area to see if they are willing and able to take them.
    • Contact hotels outside your local area to check their policies on accepting pets. Ask about restrictions on number, size, and species. Ask if "no pet" policies can be waived in an emergency. Keep a list of locations and phone numbers for "pet friendly" places in your emergency supply kit.
    • Make a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians who could shelter animals in an emergency. Include 24-hour phone numbers.

Spay and Neuter

Spay and neuter your animals, as well as any stray or foster animals in your care. If you're separated from your animals, they may end up in an animal shelter, which could be overcrowded during an emergency.

Help others, if you can.

If you can give temporary shelter to misplaced pets during a disaster, you may be able to save a person or an animal's life. If you take in a lost animal, let rescue organizations like the Humane Society know so that the animal can be reunited with its family.

Help others help you

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Know your neighbors.

You might not be home with a disaster hits. Your neighbors might be able to help your pets. They are more likely to help if they know you and your pets. Get to know your neighbors and talk to them about your emergency plans.

Include pet info in your emergency plan.

Your family's emergency plan should include information about your pets. This includes info such as: your pets' names, type of animal, age, color, breed, microchip info, medical info, veterinary info, and a photo of your pets. Give copies to everyone involved in the emergency plan.

Leave clues for emergency workers.

Put a "pet alert" sticker or sign in your window to let emergency workers know that pets are inside your home. Make sure the sticker is visible and includes the types and number of pets in your home. If you need to evacuate (and if time allows), write "evacuated" across the sticker so rescue workers don't delay by looking for pets that have already left the building.

Plan for Livestock

Caring for livestock during an emergency can be complicated. Plan ahead to ensure you can tend to their needs and safely evacuate them if necessary. Discuss and plan natural disaster management and evacuation of livestock with your veterinary professionals, neighbors, and local volunteer organizations.

Saving the Whole Family

Check out the American Veterinary Medical Association's brochure Saving the Whole Family (available in Spanish). This booklet includes detailed information on assembling emergency kits and plans for a wide variety of animal species.

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