Pets for Patriots® saves lives by connecting veteran and service members of the United States military with shelter pets in need of a loving home. Operating nationally, the charity is one of the only organizations in the country dedicated to both at-risk pets and military personnel, at any stage of their careers and from all armed forces. Pets for Patriots is a proud member of the Army AW2 Wounded Warrior Program national community support network, a Real Warriors Campaign national partner organization and is listed by the National Resource Directory for ill and wounded veterans. Pets for Patriots, Inc., is a registered 501(c)(3) charity; learn more online to find out how you can Be A Pet's Hero™.
A disaster or other emergency can be tough on people and often tougher on pets, whether the event is natural or made-made. With a little advanced planning, you can keep the four-legged members of your family safe and sound.
Before the evacuation order is issued
1. Secure pet identification. Make sure that all dogs and cats have a collar with ID tags attached. For a more enduring solution, have your pet microchipped for permanent identification. Verify that your current emergency phone and cell phone numbers are listed on the ID tag and registered with the microchip-monitoring agency. If you adopted your pet and he was already chipped, you can transfer his microchip registration to your name by providing his adoption contract. The nominal registration transfer fee is often waived if you adopted your dog or cat.
2. Vaccinate and spay/neuter. In an emergency, your pet may need to be housed with other animals in crowded conditions; most shelters that accept pets require that they're up-to-date on all vaccinations. If you have not already done so, spay or neuter your pet as well. Fixing your dog or cat is not only vital to her long-term health and to reducing pet overpopulation – many emergency shelters require that animals be fixed.
3. Proof of ownership. If you become separated from your pet, you may be required to show proof of ownership to re-claim her when the evacuation is over. Keep a copy of your pet’s license registration, vaccination record or similar documentation with you. To help prove ownership, keep a picture of you with your pet that is focused on her identifying characteristics.
4. Medical records. If you have a dog or cat with special needs or a medical condition, obtain copies of relevant medical records from your veterinarian – particularly prescriptions – to provide to a temporary caretaker. Keep all current medications and records in an easily accessible, waterproof container or bag.
5. Evacuation plan. Where will you go with your pet when disaster strikes? American Red Cross shelters do not allow animals except for certified service dogs. Check beforehand whether friends, family, veterinarians or kennels outside your area will temporarily house your pet. You can find pet-friendly hotels on the internet at PetTravelCenter.com or Pet Friendly Hotels. Ask your local animal control agency or FEMA office where dogs and cats can be housed safely during an evacuation.
6. Contingency plan. Let your landlord or trusted neighbors know that you have a pet and ask if they will help care for it if you are not home when the disaster strikes. Leave emergency contact and cell phone numbers for the caretaker. Consider purchasing and posting an emergency decal on the front window or door of your home to alert any first responders that an animal may have been left inside.
7. Practice beforehand. In an emergency, you may have to temporarily confine your pet in a crate or carrier. If your pet is unused to such confinement, practice placing your pet in the crate or carrier a few times each month so that he will cooperate in an emergency. Consider EvacSaks for your smaller pets instead of a crate or carrier, which saves space when you have to pack up and leave.
Pet emergency kit
Whether you must evacuate or choose to stay at home, make sure that you have two weeks’ worth of supplies to sustain your pet. Your emergency supply kit should include:
During extreme weather, bring your pets indoors or into an otherwise safe place. It may be necessary to separate your pets if they become reactive. Upon your return home, make sure your home and surrounding areas are clear of any debris which could injure your pet before releasing her in your home or out in your yard.
While a natural disaster can be an extraordinarily stressful event for humans and animals alike, you can help maximize your pet’s chance for survival with some basic preparation.
For disaster preparedness tips for horses, fish, birds, snakes and other pets, download the American Veterinary Medical Association’s free guide, “Saving the Whole Family,” or one from the Animal Rescue Corps.
For disaster preparedness tips for the two-legged members of your household, see the Red Cross website.
What’s in your pet’s emergency kit?