How to Help Pets During Natural Disasters

With wildfires, hurricanes, and other natural disasters becoming more and more prevalent, it's important to have a plan in place to protect your pets from danger. Here are some simple steps you can take to ensure your animals are kept safe during an emergency.

Planning Ahead

  • Have an animal emergency kit readily available. The kit should include a harness and leash or a carrier as well as food, bottled water, food and water bowls, and a copy of your pet’s medical records. If you have a cat, have litter and a small litter tray ready to go.

  • Make sure that all your animals have collars or harnesses with identification. Keep a current photo of your animal companion for identification purposes, just as you would for a child.

  • Place an emergency window sticker near your front and back doors and on side windows in case a weather emergency or fire strikes when you are not home. 

During an Emergency

  • There’s little to no time to evacuate during severe storms or tornadoes. Never leave animals chained or penned outdoors where they have no protection from strong winds, flying debris, and collapsing structures. Keep your animal companions with you if it becomes necessary to move to a stronger structure or take shelter underground. Move to a basement or hold out in a small interior ground floor room such as a closet or hallway. If none of these are available options, take cover under a heavy table or desk. Stay away from windows and doors or walls leading outside.

  • If you are being evacuated, never leave animals behind. There is no way of knowing what may happen to your home while you are away, and you may not be able to return for days or even weeks. 

  • Know your destination ahead of time. Not all emergency shelters accept animals, but many hotels take animals (most suspend “no pet” policies during disasters, thankfully).

  • Place small animals in secure carriers. Dogs should be leashed and wearing harnesses. Be sure to take the animal emergency kit that you’ve prepared.

If Authorities Force You to Leave Your Animals Behind

  • Never turn animals loose outdoors—they can’t survive “on instinct.” Instead, leave them in a secure area inside your home with access to the upper floors so that they can escape rising floodwaters.

  • Leave out at least a 10-day supply of water. Fill every bowl, pan, and Tupperware container that you have with water, then set them on the floor or on counters, as just one container may spill. Fill sinks, too. If your toilet bowl is free of chemical disinfectants, leave the toilet seat up to provide animals with one more source of water, but do not make that the only source.

  • Leave out at least a 10-day supply of dry food. Canned food will go bad quickly.

  • If you can’t get to your home, contact a reliable neighbor or friend to check on the animals and get them out, if possible. Provide specific instructions on care.

[Source: PETA]

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