Family disaster preparedness plans are a good thing to have in place. But many such plans often overlook important loved ones – the family pet.

Whether you decide to stay home or evacuate to a safer location, advance plans for pets are essential to keeping the family unit intact. Plan how you will evacuate and where you will go.

Public shelters may not allow pets. Perhaps family or friends may be willing to take in you and your pets in an emergency. Other options may include a hotel or motel, a boarding facility, such as a kennel or veterinary hospital. It’s important to determine your options before an emergency happens.

The steps below can help keep animals safe and a loving part of the family if disaster strikes:

  • Find shelter for your pet – Never evacuate without the family pets because they rarely survive on their own. Make sure there is a predetermined place the family and pets can go in the case of an evacuation because not all shelters allow pets.  If you plan early enough, some pet shelters will make reservations for pets.
  • Develop a buddy system – Plan with neighbors, friends or relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so.
  • Create a pet emergency kit– Along with an emergency preparedness kit for your household, it is also a good idea to create one for your pets. Some items to include are:
    • A pet first-aid kit with all pet medications
    • Enough food to last up to a week, stored in an airtight, waterproof container
    • At least three days of water specifically for the pets
    • Toys to occupy pets
    • A collar with ID tag, harness or leash
    • Important documents such as copies of registration information, adoption papers, vaccination documents and medical records in a clean plastic bag or waterproof container
    • A crate or other pet carrier
    • Sanitation supplies, which may include litter and litter box, newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags and household cleaner
    • A picture of you and your pet together in case of a possible separation during an emergency – you may need help in identifying your pet

For more information on how to taking care of pets in an emergency, visit the animal care page on The site also provides tips about caring for large animals and how to care for pets during and following a disaster.

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