Create an emergency “go” kit with important pet supplies

Just as you do with your family’s emergency supply kit, think first about the basics for survival, particularly food and water.  You may use this emergency kit at home during a disaster or you may need to evacuate it with you.  Be sure you can transport your emergency kit along with other family members and your pet(s) in your vehicle.

  • Keep a week’s supply of FOOD for each pet in an airtight, waterproof container. Include pop-top cans or a manual can-opener. Check expiration dates and use and replace as needed.
  • Store at least a week’s supply of WATER specifically for your pets, plus water for you and your family.
  • Keep an extra supply of all MEDICATIONS your pet(s) takes on a regular basis in a waterproof container.  Check expiration dates and use and replace as needed.
  • Create a FIRST AID KIT.  Most kits should include cotton bandage rolls, bandage tape and scissors; antibiotic ointment; flea and tick prevention; latex gloves, isopropyl alcohol and saline solution. Include a pet first aid reference book.
  • Your pet(s) should always wear a collar with a visible IDENTIFICATION tag at all times. Include a backup leash, collar and extra temporary ID tags (allowing you to update your location) in your pet’s emergency supply kit.
  • Keep copies of your pet’s important RECORDS such as adoption papers, vaccination documents (particularly rabies vaccinations), medical records and history, microchip registration information, and the contact information for your veterinarian in a clean plastic bag or waterproof container. Include a note about any particular likes, dislikes or quirks your pet has in case someone else must care for him.
  • Include a clear PHOTOGRAPH of you and your pet together.  This can be used to assist in identifying your pet and proving he is yours in the event that you become separated.
  • Include a CRATE or other pet carrier.  Traveling with your pet(s) in a crate or carrier helps keep him safe and pets are more likely to be welcomed in many places if they can be securely restrained in their own crate.  Be sure the crate is large enough to comfortably hold your pet for an extended period of time and that it fits into your vehicle.  If your dog is not yet crate-trained, teaching him to be comfortable in a crate now will make life much easier should he ever need to be confined in one.  
  • Include pet litter and litter box if needed, newspapers, paper towels, plastic garbage bags and household chlorine bleach to CLEAN UP after your pet(s).  Bleach should be diluted (nine parts water to one part bleach) and used as a disinfectant.
  • Include favorite toys, treats and bedding.  FAMILIAR ITEMS can be soothing and help reduce stress for your pet.
  • Basic GROOMING equipment, depending on your pet’s needs will help keep him healthy and happy.

Create a Disaster Plan

In an emergency it can be difficult to think straight and lines of communication may be damaged. You should plan what you will do, as much as possible, prior to any disaster. Then, during a crisis, you can focus on your safety and the safety of your family, instead of panicking or trying to come up with an untried course of action on the spot.  You will always need to assess the individual situation and use common sense to take care of yourself and your pet. If you have advance warning of an impending storm or disaster, be sure to keep all pets indoors immediately so you will know where they are as you decide how to proceed.

Decide Whether To Stay or To Go

If evacuation is recommended or required, always take your pets with you.  This is worth repeating:  Do NOT leave pets behind.  Planning for this includes the logistics of how you will assemble your pets and where you will go with them.  It also requires knowing multiple ways to leave your area in case the routes you normally used are blocked or closed.

Keep in mind that if you must go to a shelter, your pets may not be allowed in.  Some human shelters will provide separate housing for pets.  You should consider – and ask - whether family or friends outside your area may be willing to take in you and your pets in an emergency.  Other alternatives may include hotels or motels that allow pets or boarding facilities, such as a kennels or veterinary hospitals near evacuation facilities or out of town friends who might welcome you but not your pet. It is important to investigate which may be options for you and your pet before an emergency happens – and to have back-up plans in case the disaster impacts your first option.

If evacuation is not necessary or possible, choose the spot in your home where you, your family, and your pets will be the safest.  In general, stay away from windows, appliances, or heavy furniture that could topple, and avoid the kitchen.  Gather your Emergency Kit and keep it with you.

Have a Back-up “Buddy” Caretaker

Plan with trusted neighbors, friends or relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to get home or to do so.  Show your “Buddy” where you keep your Emergency Kit and disuss your evacuation plans and provide them with keys to your home.  Make plans to meet at a specific location if your “Buddy” evacuates your pet for you, and plan an alternate location in case the first option is unavailable.

Prepare Your Emergency “Go” Kit

Keeping your Emergency Kit (see above for details) packed and easily accessible with fresh food, water and updated information is a critical part of your Disaster Plan.  If you place a “Pets Inside” sticker on your door or window to alert rescue workers, consider including a phone number where you can be reached in an emergency.  Also, if you evacuate, writing the words “Evacuated with Pets” will provide valuable information to rescue personnel. 


The only way to be sure that you are ready is to actually practice evacuating with your pets.  Dedicate a day to the exercise and practice packing the car with your family, your pets, and your Emergency “Go” Kit.  Take one of the alternate routes you have selected so you become more familiar with it.  Actually travel to your planned meeting location and on to your selected destination, whether it be a friend/family member or a motel.  Once there, take that time to say hello and confirm they would be able to accommodate you if this was not simply a drill.

In disaster planning, we can all take a page from Maya Angelou who wrote “Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between.” (I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings)

We all certainly hope to be spared the impact of a disaster.  Should a disaster impact your area and you are not impacted, please consider helping someone who is.  Providing temporary foster care for the pet(s) of a disaster victim is a tremendous gift.  It can be the difference between someone being able to reunite with their beloved furry family member or not. 


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