Be Prepared: Keeping Your Pets Safe in an Emergency

Friday, April 26, 2013

The best way to protect your family from the effects of any emergency situation is to have a disaster plan in place. If you are a pet owner, that plan must include your pets. A little preparation can save their lives.

Nonprofit PetSmart Charities, the leader in pet adoptions and largest funder of animal welfare efforts in North America, encourages people to consider an emergency preparedness plan specifically for their pets.

Start by assembling a pet supply kit. It will take just a few minutes to pull items together that will make a big difference in a situation when you have little time to think before you act. PetSmart Charities suggests including the following items in an easy-to-carry, waterproof container:

  • Your pet’s food, water and medications. Remember to look at expiration dates and replace these as often as needed to maintain freshness.
  • Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, and any behavioral problems in case your pet has to take shelter away from you temporarily.
  • Current photos of your pet with your contact information in case he/she gets lost.
  • Contact information of your veterinarian in the event you have to foster or board your pet.
  • Easily transportable pet beds, a portable water bowl and a favorite toy to reduce your pet’s stress.

Some other helpful emergency preparedness guidelines include:*

  • Keep dogs and puppies securely leashed outside your home and when traveling in the car.
  • Always transport cats and kittens in carriers.
  • Don't leave pets unattended anywhere they might run off.
  • Contact hotels and motels outside of your area about their pet policies and any restrictions on number, size and species. Ask if a “no pet” policy can be waived in an emergency situation. Keep this list handy in your supply kit.

Even the calmest pets may panic during an emergency and hide or try to bite, scratch or escape so you may consider having your pet microchipped, to more easily locate them if they are lost.

PetSmart Charities also helps pet parents stay informed during emergency situations. Stay connected by signing up for email alerts at

Preparation before disaster strikes will enable you to evacuate with your pets quickly and safely. By following these simple steps, you may just save a life.

*Sources: PetSmart Charities, American Red Cross and American Veterinary Medical Association