Prepare Your Pets For The Next Disaster

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Release date: 
June 21, 2006
Release Number: 

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Disaster recovery officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Florida Long-Term Recovery Office and Florida's State Emergency Response Team (SERT) urge you to have a disaster plan for your pets in preparation for the new hurricane season.

"The destructive hurricanes of 2004 and 2005 underscored the importance of accounting for animal needs during major disasters," said Scott Morris, FEMA director for Florida Long-Term Recovery.

With hurricane season upon us, your pets need to be included in your family emergency plan.

"People must have a disaster plan that includes their pets," said Laura Bevan, southeast regional director for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). "Our best advice is if you evacuate, take your pet with you."

Bevan has been working with local governments and volunteer groups in establishing pet-friendly shelters. Many Florida counties have shelters where people can evacuate with their pets, including Broward, Marion and Orange. Bevan describes the shelters as having "people in one building and the animals close by in another part of the building and the people take care of their own pets."

To find out if there is a pet-friendly shelter in your area, call your county emergency management office or check the office's Web site. You should also contact your veterinarian or local humane society for information on preparing your pets for an emergency.

Before the Disaster:  Have a Safe Place to Take Your Pets

Plan your evacuation strategy and don't forget your pet!  If you plan to shelter your pet - work it into your evacuation route planning.

  • Service animals that assist people with disabilities are allowed in Red Cross shelters. It may be difficult to find shelter for your animals in the midst of a disaster, so plan ahead. Do not wait until disaster strikes to do your research. Many communities are developing pet-friendly shelter plans, check to see if your local emergency shelter plan includes pets.
  • Specialized pet shelters, animal control shelters, veterinary clinics and friends and relatives out of harm's way are ALL potential refuges for your pet during a disaster.
  • Contact hotels and motels outside your immediate area to check policies on accepting pets and restrictions on number, size, and species. Ask if "no pet" policies could be waived in an emergency. Keep a list of "pet friendly" places, including phone numbers, with other disaster information and supplies. If you have notice of an impending disaster, call ahead for reservations. Go to to search online for pet friendly hotels and motels.
  • Prepare a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians who could shelter animals in an emergency; include 24-hour phone numbers.
  • Ask local animal shelters if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets in a disaster. Animal shelters may be overburdened caring for the animals they already have as well as those displaced by a disaster, so this should be your last resort.

Prepare a portable disaster supply kit for your pet

Keep items in an accessible place and store them in sturdy containers that can be carried easily.

  • Proper identification, including immunization records, and current photos
  • Ample supply of food and water
  • A carrier or cage, pet beds and toys
  • Medications, medical records and a first aid kit
  • Sturdy leashes, harnesses, and/or carriers to transport pets safely and ensure that your animals can't escape.
  • Information on feeding schedules, ...
Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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