The Humane Society of the
United States Offers Disaster Planning Tips for Pets, Livestock & Wildlife
Whether it's a large-scale natural catastrophe or an unforeseen
emergency that causes you to leave your home temporarily, everyone's family can benefit
from having a household evacuation plan in place before disaster strikes. Every disaster
plan must include your pets!
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) offers the following
tips to pet owners designing an emergency safety plan:
- If you evacuate your home, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND! Pets
most likely cannot survive on their own; and if by some remote chance they do, you may not
be able to find them when you return.
- For public health reasons, many emergency shelters cannot accept
pets. Find out which motels and hotels in your area allow pets -- well in advance of
needing them. Include your local animal shelter's number in your list of emergency numbers
-- they might be able to provide information concerning pets during a disaster.
- Make sure identification tags are up to date and securely fastened to
your pet's collar. If possible, attach the address and/or phone number of your evacuation
site. If your pet gets lost, his tag is his ticket home. Make sure you have a current
photo of your pet for identification purposes.
- Make sure you have a secure pet carrier, leash or harness for your
pet so that if he panics, he can't escape.
- Take pet food, bottled water, medications, veterinary records, cat
litter/pan, can opener, food dishes, first aid kit and other supplies with you in case
they're not available later. While the sun is still shining, consider packing a "pet
survival" kit which could be easily deployed if disaster hits.
- If you are unable to return to your home right away, you may need to
board your pet. Most boarding kennels, veterinarians and animal shelters will need your
pet's medical records to make sure all vaccinations are current. Include copies in your
"pet survival" kit along with a photo of your pet.
- If it is impossible to take your pet with you to temporary shelter,
contact friends, family, veterinarians, or boarding kennels to arrange for care. Make sure
medical and feeding information, food, medicine and other supplies accompany your pet to
his foster home. NOTE: Some animal shelters will provide temporary foster care for
owned pets in times of disaster, but this should be considered only as a last resort.
- If you have no alternative but to leave your pet at home, there are
some precautions you must take, but remember that leaving your pet at home alone can place
your animal in great danger! Confine your pet to a safe area inside -- NEVER leave your
pet chained outside! Place a notice outside in a visible area, advising what pets are in
the house and where they are located. Provide a phone number where you or a contact can be
reached as well as the name and number of your vet.
Not only are pets affected by disaster, but the other animals in the
disaster area are affected as well. The HSUS offers these basic tips for people who
encounter wildlife or have livestock on their property:
- Wild animals often seek higher ground which, during floods,
eventually become submerged (i.e., island) and the animals become stranded. If the island
is large enough and provides suitable shelter, you can leave food appropriate to the
species (i.e., sunflower seeds for squirrels). Animals have a flight response and will
flee from anyone approaching too closely. If the animal threatens to rush into the water,
back away from the island or you may frighten the animal into jumping into the water to
escape from you.
- Wildlife often seek refuge from flood waters on upper levels of a
home and may remain inside even after the water recedes. If you meet a rat or snake face
to face, be careful but don't panic. Open a window or other escape route and the animal
will probably leave on its own. Never attempt to capture a wild animal unless you have the
training, protective clothing, restraint equipment and caging necessary to perform the
- Beware of an increased number of snakes and other predators who will
try to feed on the carcasses of reptiles, amphibians and small mammals who have been
drowned or crushed in their burrows or under rocks.
- Often, during natural disasters, mosquitoes and dead animal carcasses
may present disease problems. Outbreaks of anthrax, encephalitis and other diseases may
occur. Contact your local emergency management office for help!
- If you see an injured or stranded animal in need of assistance, or
you need help with evicting an animal from your home, please contact your local animal
control office or animal shelter!
- EVACUATE LIVESTOCK WHENEVER POSSIBLE. Arrangements for
evacuation, including routes and host sites, should be made in advance. Alternate routes
should be mapped out in case the planned route is inaccessible.
- The evacuation sites should have or be able to readily obtain food,
water, veterinary care, handling equipment and facilities.
- Trucks, trailers, and other vehicles suitable for transporting
livestock (appropriate for transporting each specific type of animal) should be available
along with experienced handlers and drivers to transport them. Whenever possible, the
animals should be accustomed to these vehicles in advance so they're less frightened and
easier to move.
- If evacuation is not possible, a decision must be made whether to
move large animals to available shelter or turn them outside. This decision should be
determined based on the type of disaster and the soundness and location of the shelter
All animals should have some form of identification that will help
facilitate their return.
Your disaster plan should include a list of emergency phone numbers
for local agencies that can assist you if disaster strikes - - including your
veterinarian, state veterinarian, local animal shelter, animal care and control, county
extension service, local agricultural schools and the American Red Cross. These numbers
should be kept with your disaster kit in a secure, but easily accessible place.
For additional information, please contact The Humane Society of the
2100 L. Street, NW
Washington, DC. 20037
Attn: Disaster Services Program
Phone: (202) 452-1100.
Plan Worksheet - Information Sheet
Links for Pets, Domesticated Animals
Pets & Disasters -
Pet Friendly Motel/Hotel
To Contact Us
Office of Emergency Preparedness Phone Numbers
Emergency Management Agency