Helping Pets

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This page provides information on how disasters affect your pets and what you can do to help your pets.  You can prepare yourself and your pets for disasters by creating a family emergency plan that includes your pet.  FEMA supports local efforts to search for and rescue pets after a disaster and you may be able to locate your missing pet using supported resources.

Pet Preparedness

Prior to a disaster create a family emergency plan that includes your pet. includes information on Caring for Animals

Following a disaster, familiar scents and landmarks may be altered.  Pets may become confused and lost, so it is critical to maintain close contact with and leash pets when they go outside. Also, snakes and other potentially dangerous animals displaced by the disaster may have migrated into the area (especially after flooding). In addition, downed power lines can also be a hazard for people and their pets.  Be aware of your surroundings and protect your pet and yourself.

Similar to children and adults, disaster-related stress may change a pet’s behavior. Normally quiet and friendly pets may become aggressive or defensive. Watch your animals closely, and be cautious around other animals – even pets you know. If you evacuate, take your pets with you!

If you are unable to take your pets with you, place them in a fenced yard with access to shelter, food and water.  Contact local emergency management for information regarding availability of emergency shelters for pets.

Locate a Missing Pet

Pets displaced by a disaster are frequently kept in shelters and by organizations in the State where the disaster occurred.  Contact your local humane society, animal welfare organization, County or State Animal Response Team to locate the shelters or organizations near you. Additionally, a member of the National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition may be able to assist in locating the appropriate local response organization.

The search and rescue of pets lost during disasters is undertaken in a coordinated effort between State and local government and local animal response groups with support from FEMA and a range of national animal welfare organizations (such as NARSC, the Humane Society of the United States [HSUS], and Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams [VMATS]).  If you are trying to locate pets lost as a result of a disaster, contact your local or State emergency management agency.

You can check to determine if a particular area has 2-1-1 services.  There can be additional services which can assist in locating pets or caring for pets after a disaster.

Last Updated: 
02/23/2015 - 14:38
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