Hurricanes, Earthquakes, Fires… oh my!!!!

Rebecca Colwell, CVT
Veterinary Information Specialist

It is not something we ever want to think about let alone deal with. The last few months we have had our fair share of natural disasters and sadly not every was prepared. To remedy this, be sure to make arrangements ahead of time 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. If, as a last resort, you have to leave your pets behind, make sure you have a plan to ensure their care.

Before nature strikes:

  • Contact your local animal shelter, humane society, veterinarian or emergency management office for information on caring for pets in an emergency.
  • If your pet is on medication or a special diet, find out from your veterinarian what you should do in case you have to leave it alone for several days

During the storm:

  • If you evacuate and have to leave your pet at home, prepare a safe location for it.
  • Leave familiar items such as the pet’s normal bedding and favorite toys. Also leave a two or three day supply of dry food, even if it’s not the pets usual food.
  • Leave the food in a sturdy container that the pet cannot overturn.
  • Leave the water in a sturdy, no-spill container. If possible, open a faucet slightly and let the water drip into a big container. Large dogs may be able to obtain fresh water from a partially filled bathtub.
  • Make sure all of your pet collars have tags and identification. Make sure all of your pets are microchipped, this can be a life savor as collars can come off so easily.

It’s best, but always not possible, to bring your pets with you.  Start planning early!! Contact hotels and motels outside your immediate area to find out if they accept pets. Ask about any restrictions on number, size and species. Inquire if a “no pet” policy would be waived in an emergency. Keep a list of animal-friendly places handy, and call ahead for a reservation as soon as you think you might have to leave your home.

For help identifying pet-friendly lodgings, check out these websites:


Assemble a packet of your pet’s identifying documentation, including veterinary records and contact information, microchip data, evidence of vaccines and current photographs. If your pet has specific veterinary needs, like an ongoing medical condition, make a note of that. Behavioral issues, like dog aggression, should be listed as well. If you get separated from your pet, this information could be lifesaving.

Most important, do you have an elderly or disabled neighbor who might need help setting up an evacuation plan? Do you know someone who can’t drive, and can you offer room in your car? Are you willing to commit to checking on and rescuing neighbors’ pets if they’re stranded out of the area? Set up a safety net to protect the humans and animals of your neighborhood.

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