Pets Are Family Too!

Make arrangements 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. If, as a last resort, you have to leave your pets behind, make sure you have a plan to ensure their care. For health and space reasons, pets are not allowed in public emergency shelters. However, in most states, trained guide dogs for persons with disabilities will be allowed to stay in emergency shelters with their owners.

Special Tips

Contact your local animal shelter, humane society, veterinarian or emergency management office for information on caring for pets in an emergency. Find out if there will be any shelters set-up to take pets in an emergency.

Decide on safe locations in your house where you could leave your pet in an emergency. Set up two separate locations if you have cats and dogs. Avoid choosing rooms with hazards such as windows, hanging plants or pictures in large frames. Consider areas that are easy to clean such as bathrooms or utility rooms.

Buy a pet carrier that allows your pet to stand up and turn around inside. Train your pet to become comfortable with the carrier.

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. Try to get an extra supply of medications.

Make sure your pet has a properly fitted collar that includes the current license and rabies tags. If your dog normally wears a chain link choker collar, have a leather or nylon collar available if you have to leave him alone for several days.

Keep your pet's shots current and know where the records are Most kennels require proof of current rabies and distemper vaccinations before accepting a pet.

Contact motels and hotels in communities outside of your area and find out if they will accept pets in an emergency.

When assembling emergency supplies for the household, include items for the pets.

When an emergency or disaster appears imminent bring your pets inside immediately. Animals have instincts about severe weather changes and will often isolate themselves if they are afraid. Bringing them inside early can stop them from running away. Never leave your pet outside or tied up during a storm.

If after a disaster you have to leave town, take your pet with you. Pets are unlikely to survive on their own.

Birds must eat daily to survive. In an emergency, you may have to leave your birds behind. Talk with your veterinarian or local pet store about special food dispensers that regulate the amount of food a bird is given. Make sure the bird is caged and the cage is covered by a thin cloth or sheet to provide security and filtered light.

The behavior of your pet may change after an emergency or disaster. Normally quiet and friendly pets may become aggressive or defensive. Watch animals closely.

In the first few days after a disaster, leash your pets when they go outside. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and your pet may become confused and lost.

Washington State Military Department, Emergency Management Division