“When disaster strikes, preparation makes all the difference,” states Dr. John Manolukas, DVM, at Hanover Regional Animal Hospital in Wilmington, NC. If it is not safe for you, it is not safe for them. Make a plan and assemble an emergency kit for yourself and your pet.
Start getting ready now!
ID your pet
Microchip – A simple injection can place a rice-sized microchip permanently in your pet. Hanover Regional Animal Hospital will register your pet for you, and provide online access to change any information. This is the best way to ensure your pet can be identified.
Collar – Make sure your cat or dog is wearing a collar with identification. The information should include your cell number, pet’s name and if possible the name of a friend or relative outside your area who will be able to contact you if you have to evacuate. For cats, we recommend break away collars.
Put together a disaster kit. (see instructions below)
If you evacuate, take your pet. If it is not safe for you then it is not safe for them. Remember, while you may plan to return in a day or so, sometimes it can take days to weeks before you can get back to your house.
Plan for a place to stay ahead of time.
Friends and relatives. This is the best choice – as long as they live out of the path of the storm, tornado or hurricane, and your pets get along with theirs.
Contact multiple hotels within a targeted safe zone and find out their pet policy. Be sure to ask about their policies in evacuation situations.
Ask about any restrictions on number, size, and species.
Inquire if the “no pet” policies 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.
Online resources for pet-friendly hotels:
Consider a kennel or veterinarian’s office.
Make a list of boarding facilities and veterinary offices that might be able to shelter animals in disaster emergencies.
Be ready for everyday emergencies – have your first aid kit ready to go.
If you stay home, do it safely.
Plan and prepare a safe zone.
Gather the pets in the same safe location as the rest of family. Identify a location where you all can stay together and make the safe area animal friendly.
Close off or eliminate unsafe nooks and crannies where frightened cats may try to hide.
Move dangerous items such as tools or toxic products that have been stored in the area.
Be sure to close your windows and doors, stay inside, and follow the instructions from your local emergency management office.
As soon as you know trouble is on the way.
Bring your pets indoors as soon as local authorities say trouble is on the way.
Keep pets under your direct control; if you have to evacuate, you will not have to spend time trying to find them.
Keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers, and make sure they are wearing identification.
If you have a room you can designate as a “safe room,” put your emergency supplies in that room in advance.
Listen to the radio periodically, and don’t come out until you know it’s safe.
Take care even after the disaster.
Keep taking care even after the disaster. There are many dangers following a disaster, some of which are on the ground and in locations our pets are more likely to visit than us. Be sure to scout out any area your pet will be investigating.
Your home may be a very different place after the emergency is over, and it may be hard for your pets to adjust.
Don’t allow your pets to roam loose. Familiar landmarks and smells might be gone, and your pet may be disoriented. Pets can easily get lost in such situations.
While you assess the damage, keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers inside the house. If your house is damaged, your pets could escape.
Be patient with your pets after a disaster. Try to get them back into their normal routines as soon as possible. Be ready for behavioral problems caused by the stress of the situation. If these problems persist, or if your pet seems to be having any health problems, talk to your veterinarian.
If your community has been flooded, search your home and yard for wild animals who may have sought refuge there. Stressed wildlife can pose a threat to you and your pet.
How to put together a disaster kit
Keep the disaster kit in a duffle bag that can be grabbed quickly if you have to evacuate in a hurry.
Food and Water
Food: (per day amounts)
5 days worth of food for each pet, bowls and a can opener if you are using canned food.
Dry food – 1 cup per 20-25 lbs of pet is a rough estimate.
Water: (per day amounts)
30 lbs ¼ gallon (4 cups), Small Cats 1 cup
60 lbs ½ gallon (8 cups), Medium Cat 2 cups
90 lbs ¾ gallon (12 cups) Large Cat 3 cups
Medications and medical records.
Write down your pets’ feeding schedules, medical conditions and behavior issues in case you need to board them.
Keep your veterinarian’s name and number with you. A business card works great.
Make sure to have photos of you and your pets, to help identify them in case of separation and to prove ownership. Microchips are still the best method of permanent identification.
Place a copy of all medical records in a waterproof container. These should contain any identification information such as a microchip and rabies certificates as well as county licenses.
First-aid kit. Place your pet first aid kit in a waterproof container in the disaster duffel.
Plan for waste. Litter box, litter and garbage bags for collection of pets’ waste.
Control of pets.
Carriers – for safe transport of pets and to prevent escape.
Pillowcases – you should have a pillowcase for each cat and small dog to aid in capture and control.
Leashes and harnesses – to maintain control of your pets when they are under stress.
Comfort items – blankets bed and toys if convenient, to reduce stress.