In the event of a natural or man-made disaster, pets are not allowed inside emergency shelters with humans due to public health and safety reasons. If you and your family need to evacuate to a public shelter during a disaster, you must plan for the care of your pets. Such planning could save their lives and make yours easier.

PLANNING BEFORE a storm is essential.

  • Keep shots up-to-date and have a health certificate readily available in case you have to board the pet, leave the state, or try to enter emergency facilities which accept pets.

  • Be sure your pet wears a properly fitted collar with current ID and rabies tags at all times. Also be able to provide proof of ownership such as health certificate or photos in case you and your pet are separated during the disaster.

  • Prepare a kit with a week's worth of emergency supplies available in case the disaster prevents you from getting necessary food and medications. Examples are food, bottled water, and medications your pet takes regularly.
  • Arrange to have your pet taken care of if you can't take your pet with you. Find out about boarding kennels which may accept your pet on short notice. Talk to friends and relatives who live 100 to 300 miles away from you who might be able to take care of your pet for a few days to a few months.

  • Purchase pet carriers and have an extra leash handy. Pets will be under stress after a disaster and will need to be confined if you are to have any chance of gaining access to an emergency shelter.

  • Take a photo of your pet so if you were to become separated, you can easily share the photo following the emergency. 

IF YOU MUST LEAVE YOUR HOME and leave your pet(s) behind.

  • Prepare an area for your pet to use inside the house, away from windows. Consider an easily cleaned utility room, garage, bathroom, or other tiled area.

  • Bring your pets indoors well in advance of the storm. Reassure them with a soothing voice and calm manner.

  • Do not leave any pet outside or tied up during a hurricane.

  • Leave only dry type foods that are relatively unappealing to prevent overeating. Use sturdy food containers.

  • Do not leave any pet vitamins or mineral supplements. Overeating of these treats may cause poisoning.

  • Birds must eat daily to survive. If you must leave them behind, use special food dispensers.

  • Leave water for pets in a sturdy, no spill container or a bathtub. Leave toilet seats up.

  • Never leave a cat with a dog, even if they are normally friendly.

  • If your pet is on a special diet use caution as to the amount of food you leave.

  • Confine small pets (birds, hamsters, etc.) away from cats and dogs.

  • Provide pet access to high places, such as counter tops, in case your home floods.

  • Leave difficult or dangerous animals in special crates or cages.

AFTER THE STORM OR DISASTER there are still things to consider.

  • Be careful allowing your pet outdoors. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and your pet could easily be confused and become lost. Downed power lines and wild animals that may have entered the area could present real danger to your pet.
  • If your pet is lost during the storm, contact veterinary hospitals, boarding kennels, animal control facilities and humane societies in your area.

  • If you find a pet, contact your local humane society and any phone numbers that have been set up for reporting lost and found animals.