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Planning for Your Pet in the Event of Disaster

Release date: 
October 19, 2011
Release Number: 

ALBANY, N.Y. – If you are one of the millions of New Yorkers with a cat, dog or other companion animal, now is a good time to start planning for what to do with your pet in the event of disaster.

“It is very important to have a disaster plan for your pets,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Philip E. Parr of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). “Being ready increases the likelihood of survival for you and your pets. It’s best to be prepared.”

FEMA has teamed with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the American Kennel Club, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Humane Society of the United States to develop these pet-preparedness guidelines.

Have a pet supply kit ready, including:

  • Pet food for three days in an airtight, waterproof container and bowls;
  • Water for three days;
  • Pet medicines and first aid supplies;
  • Collar (with ID tags firmly secured), harness or sturdy leash.
  • Important documents such as registration, adoption papers, vaccination and medical records in a plastic bag or waterproof container;
  • Travel crate or other pet carrier;
  • Cat litter, litter box, paper towels, newspapers, plastic trash bags and cleaning supplies;
  • Photos of you and your pet together for identification purposes;
  • Familiar items such as toys, treats and blankets.

Plan ahead for your pet:

  • The single most important thing you can do to protect your pets is to take them in the event that you must evacuate. Animals left behind in a disaster can easily be lost or injured.
  • If evacuation is necessary, plan ahead where you will go. Consider friends or family outside the area who can take in you and your pet. Other options may include a pet-friendly hotel or motel. If your only evacuation option is a Red Cross or other publicly-run shelter, be aware that not all shelters are equipped or designed to accept non-service animals. Consider boarding your animals at a kennel or veterinary hospital before going to a public shelter.
  • Plan with neighbors, friends or relatives to evacuate your pet for you if you are unable to do so yourself. Talk with them about your evacuation plans and pet supply kit.
  • Consult your veterinarian and consider “microchipping” your pet. These permanent implants may be invaluable if you and your pets are separated.
  • Stay informed about what types of emergencies are likely to affect your region. Be ready to follow instructions from authorities on the scene.

After the disaster:

  • Don't allow your pets to roam loose. Familiar landmarks and smells may have been changed by the disaster and your pet could become disoriented or lost.
  • Be patient with your pets after a disaster. Try to get them back into normal routines as soon as possible and be ready for behavioral problems that may result from the stress of the situation. If behavioral or health problems persist, talk to your vet.

Preparedness can be a lifesaver for you and your pets. Plan ahead and leave no pets behind! For information on pet-friendly accommodations in your area and disaster planning, visit // and click on the Pet Preparedness Toolkit link. More information is available at /plan/prepare/animals.shtm.

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.


Last Updated: 
January 3, 2018 - 12:16