Because evacuation shelters generally don’t accept pets, except for service animals, you must plan ahead to ensure that your family and pets will have a safe place to stay. Don’t wait until disaster strikes to do your research.
Find a Safe Place Ahead of Time
- Contact hotels and motels outside your immediate area to check policies on accepting pets. Ask about any restrictions on number, size and species. Ask if “no pet” policies would be waived in an emergency. Make a list of pet-friendly places and keep it handy. Call ahead for reservations as soon as you think you might have to leave your home.
- Check with friends and family outside your immediate area. Ask if they would be able to shelter you and your animals or just your animals.
- Make a list of boarding facilities and veterinary offices that might be able to shelter animals in emergencies; include 24-hour telephone numbers
- Ask local animal shelters if they provide foster care or shelter for pets in an emergency. This should be your last resort, as shelters have limited resources and are likely to be stretched to their limits during an emergency.
As the Disaster Approaches
- Don’t wait until the last minute to get ready. Warning of hurricanes or other disasters may be issued just days, or even hours in advance.
- Call to confirm emergency shelter arrangements for you and your pets.
- Bring pets into the house and confine them so you can leave with them quickly if necessary.
- Make sure each pet and pet carrier has up to date identification and contact information. Include information about your temporary shelter location.
Gather Disaster Supplies Together for Your Pets
- Medications and medical records stored in a waterproof container and a first aid kit. A pet first aid book is also good to include.
- Sturdy leashes, harness and carriers to transport pets safely and to ensure that your pets can’t escape. Carriers should be large enough for the animal to stand comfortably, turn around and lie down in. You may also need blankets or towels for bedding and warmth, and other special items.
- Food and water for at least 3 days for each pet, bowls, cat litter and litter box and a manual can opener.
- Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to board your pets or have to place them into foster care.
- Pet beds and toys, if you can easily take them, to reduce stress.
- Other useful items include newspaper, paper towels, plastic trash bags, grooming items and household bleach.
After the Storm - Planning and preparation will help weather the storm, but your home may be a very different place afterward, whether you have taken shelter at home or elsewhere.
- Don’t allow your pets to roam loose. Familiar landmarks and smells might be gone and your pet will probably be disoriented. Pets can easily get lost in such situations.
- Keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers inside the house for a few days. If your house is damaged, they could escape and become lost.
- Be patient with your pets after a disaster. Try to get them back into their normal routines as soon as possible and be ready for behavioral problems that may result from stress of the situations. If behavioral problems persist, or if your pet seems to be having any health problems, talk to your veterinarian.