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Caring For Pets Before And After Disaster Strikes

Release date: 
August 8, 2003
Release Number: 

Charleston, WV -- For many, family pets have a respected place in the home and are as important as any household member. Knowing how to plan for and protect your pets before and after a disaster is important.

Before a Disaster

  • If you must leave your pets at home alone:

    • Decide on safe locations such as:

      • Utility areas or bathrooms - they are easy to clean and have access to fresh water;

      • Rooms with few or no windows; or

      • Rooms with high counters or areas where animals can climb to safety in case of flooding.

    • Be sure your pets have identification with your name, address and phone number.

    • Don't leave a chain link or "choke" collar on a dog that's left alone. The pet can become tangled and trapped as a result of the collar.

    • Leave out plenty of dry food (a self feeder is an excellent idea).

    • Put water in a sturdy no-spill container. If possible, leave a faucet slightly open so that water can drip in a big container. Large animals can also get water from a partially filled bathtub.

    • Try to keep your pets in separate areas if possible. During traumatic times, animals that normally get along may not.

    • Prepare your birds for a disaster with care; they must eat daily. If you have to leave your bird behind, be sure the bird feeder dispenses regular amounts of food. Cover the cage with a thin cloth or sheet to provide security and filtered light.

    • Post a note on the door of your home when you leave. Indicate your pet's name, where they are, and what they are. Pets may escape from the home during a disaster, and exotic pets may need special attention or pose a threat to other pets or people.

  • If you take your pets with you:

    • Transport your animals in carriers that are large enough to allow pets to stand up and turn around. Use the carrier at home before disaster strikes, so your animal can get used to it.

    • Check with hotels and motels ahead of time to see if they accept pets.

    • Bring extra pet food, water, kitty litter and pet meds.

    • Take medical records of your pets with you. If your animals have to be sheltered later, proof of vaccinations may be necessary.

After a Disaster

  • Take your animals with you if you have to leave town. PETS ARE UNLIKELY TO SURVIVE ON THEIR OWN.

  • Leash or fence in your pets when they are outside during the first few days after the disaster. Familiar scents and landmarks may have changed, and your pet may become confused and lost. Also, dangerous animals and snakes may have entered the area as a result of floodwaters.

  • Watch for downed power lines; they are a danger to unsuspecting pets.

Last Updated: 
January 3, 2018 - 12:52