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In the event of a disaster, if you must evacuate, the most important thing you can do to protect your pets is to evacuate them too. Leaving pets behind, even if you try to create a safe place for them, is likely to result in their being injured, lost or worse. So prepare now for the day when you and your pets may have to leave your home.

Know where to take your pets.

Red Cross disaster shelters cannot accept pets because of health and safety regulations and other considerations. Service animals are the only exception. Do not wait until disaster strikes to do your research.

  • Contact hotels and motels outside your immediate area to check policies on accepting pets and restrictions on number, size and species. Keep a list of "pet friendly" places. If you have notice of an impending disaster, call ahead for reservations.
  • Ask friends, relatives or others outside the affected area whether they could shelter your animals. If you have more than one pet, it might be necessary to house them separately.
  • Prepare a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians who could shelter animals in an emergency. Include 24-hour phone numbers.

Assemble a Portable Pet Disaster Supplies Kit

Whether you are away from home for a day or a week, you’ll need essential supplies. Keep items in an accessible place and store them in sturdy containers that can be carried easily (duffle bags, covered trash containers, etc).

Your pet disaster kit should include:

  • Medications and medical records (stored in a waterproof container) and a first aid kit.
  • Sturdy leashes, harnesses, and/or carriers to transport pets safely and ensure that your animals can’t escape.
  • Current photos of your pets in case they get lost.
  • Food, potable water, bowls, cat litter/pan and a can opener.
  • Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems and the name and number of your vet in case you have to foster or board your pets.
  • Pet beds and toys, if easily transportable.

What if you're not home?

You may not be home when the evacuation order comes. Find out if a trusted neighbor would be willing to take your pets and meet you at a prearranged location. This person should be comfortable with your pets, know where your animals are likely to be, know where your pet disaster supplies kit is kept and have a key to your home. If you use a pet sitting service, they may be available to help, but discuss the possibilities well in advance.

Planning and preparation will enable you to evacuate with your pets quickly and safely. Bear in mind that animals react differently under stress. Outside your home and in the car, keep dogs securely leashed. Transport cats in carriers. Don’t leave animals unattended anywhere they can run off. The most trustworthy pets may panic, hide, try to escape or even bite or scratch. When you return home, give your pets time to settle back into their routines. Consult your veterinarian if any behavior problems persist.

If you must evacuate, do not leave your animals behind. Evacuate them to a prearranged safe location if they cannot stay with you during the evacuation period.

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