Creating Your Pet Evacuation Plan
Hurricane Katrina was a disaster for pets as owners were told to leave their pets behind. Laws have changed and the federal governament has established guidelines for local governments to allow and assist with pet evacuation. It's now up to you to prepare - never leave your pet behind.
Gathering Your Pet's Supplies
Grab & Go Bag
Your pet's grab & go bag should be ready to go alongside your family's individual grab & go bags and other family kits. This will include food, water, and other necessities to see your pet through time away from home.
Inside should be included the pet information and ultimately the plan you are now creating for your pet's evacuation. Make sure both are included.
Don't leave home without your pet's crate/carrier! Even if your dog is used to riding in the car, you will need a cage should your dog end up at an emergency animal shelter. Pets like small dogs, cats, bunnies, etc. should be placed in the carrier before being taken out of the house.
Learn more about selecting the appropriate crate/carrier for your pet.
Your dog most likely wears an ID collar already. Chances are your cat does not. When a warning is issued, place the collar and ID on all pets before you take them out of the house. Along with this ID, you should also have your pet ID packet ready to go and placed in your pet's grab & go bag. Double-check that it is included before you leave. This will help identify your pet should you get separated.
You can learn more about pet identification and other things you can do to protect your pet in case of accidental separation.
Ask For Help & Assign the Task
Do you know someone that could help evacuate your pet if you are not home? Can you return the favor for them?
- You must trust this person with a key.
- It’s best if this person and your pet already know each other.
- Reveal all hiding places so your pet can be quickly found.
- Give them a copy of your pet's evacuation plan with all pertinant information including where to find your pet's evacuation supplies and all destination options.
Contacting Your Pet Helper
Once a warning has been issued, contact your pet helper and let them know you are home and can take your pet or that you are not home and need the help.
Most places are unlikely to take pets. Planning ahead of time can make all the difference for your family and your beloved pet.
The best thing for your pet is to stay with the family. This may include seeking refuge with family or friends, or in a pet-friendly hotel/motel. You may find that a mass-care shelter ends up being the easiest or only solution. If your family goes there, your pet must be placed in an emergency animal shelter, most likely located nearby. While this option is more likely to be your last choice, all things considered, it's a blessing that this is even an option today for pet owners.
Let’s explore each and try to make plans for all three so they remain viable options.
Family and friends
When planning your family’s evacuation destination, an option for your family is to stay with family or friends.
- Did you ask them if they would mind including your pet as well?
- Would a family member or other friend be able to take your pet if you have plans to stay somewhere where pets are not welcome?
- Can they accomodate more than one pet, or would you need to arrange to house them at separate locations?
- Sweeten the deal and return the favor. If they need to be evacuated from their local area, agree to take them and their pet as well.
Pet Friend Hotels/Motels
Here are five websites that can help you find pet-friendly hotels/motels. Look for options within your area, just outside your area, and even further, extending out as far out as you feel comfortable searching. Further out is important just in case large areas are evacuated. If possible, leave early so these options don't fill up before you can get there.
Emergency Animal Shelters
The PETS Act mandates that communities include animals in their disaster planning. Due to this change in law, local animal organizations are required to set up animal shelters adjacent to human shelters, called co-sheltering. You will be responsible for feeding, watering, and walking your pet. However ...
- Don’t assume your city will provide an animal shelter.
- Verify now that there will be shelters in your area that take pets.
- Call your local office of emergency management to find out if they are compliant with the PETS Act and what your community will do for your pet.
Pet Evacuation Checklist
We have gone through four steps to evacuating your pet but now it's important that you put it in writing. This is the document you or your pet helper can use as a checklist to make sure you have remembered everything and know where you are heading once you leave your home. Use this as a guide and make it your own.
- List name, phone, address
- Call pet helper to either ask for help or decline it.
- Note: make sure to give your pet helper a copy of this evacuation checklist.
- A collar and tag should be inside your pet's grab & go bag.
- Place collar and ID on all pets before leaving the house.
- Make sure info packet is inside go bag.
- Include all options for places to stay that you have previously checked out.
- Start calling and firming up a plan.
- If you have time, know where you're going before you head out.