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Preparing for Emergency Evacuation with Pets

Evacuations occur for all kinds of reasons. Floods, wildfires, storms, even a train derailment or industrial accident could cause you to have to leave your home on short notice. And preparing for emergency evacuation takes a little extra planning when your family includes pets. Being prepared ensures that you and your have everything you need while you’re uprooted.

Woman holding her dog's face in her hands on a beach with the sun setting in the background


Pre-Pack Your Pet’s Go-Bag

In an emergency evacuation, there’s not much time to pack for yourself, much less for your pets! Avoid forgetting the essentials your pet will need by pre-packing the following emergency kit:

  • Enough food and water for a week. Pack your pet’s food in a waterproof, re-sealable container. Remember to swap out the food every three months so it’s always fresh. Include lightweight food and water bowls, and don’t forget an inexpensive can opener if your pet eats canned food.
  • Enough medication for a week. If your pet’s medication requires refrigeration, be sure to include a small cooler. And stick a note to the cooler reminding you to grab ice packs from the freezer.
  • Proof of vaccination and ownership. Emergency shelters may not accept tags as proof of vaccination, so pack a copy of your pet’s most recent vaccination certificate. If you and your pet should become separated, you’ll need a photo to make posters. And when your pet is found, you may need proof of ownership (like a microchip number) to claim him or her. Keep all three in a sealed, waterproof bag, just in case.
  • An extra collar with ID tag and a leash. Your pet should have an ID tag on their collar or harness. But if cell service is down, or you’re not at your home phone number, it may not have the best contact information to reach you. Put a blank ID tag with an office label on the back in your emergency kit so you can write your temporary information on your pet’s tag.
  • A muzzle. Emergency shelters may require dogs to be muzzled before they’re admitted. So pack a soft muzzle you can easily slip on your pup if required.
  • A familiar toy, blanket, or bed that smells like home. Being evacuated is stressful for everyone, and having a few comforts from home will help relieve your pet’s anxiety.
  • Waste bags to pick up after your dog and/or a litter box with litter for your cat.
  • A first aid kit.
  • A kennel or carrier. If you’re planning to take your pet with you to an emergency shelter or a hotel, be sure to have a carrier or kennel along. Emergency shelters may require pets to contained, and hotels may also require a carrier or kennel if you need to leave your pet unattended in the room.


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Locate A Pet Friendly Place To Go

Not all emergency shelters allow pets, and those that do may have strict guidelines. Familiarize yourself with your community’s evacuation facilities and policies so you’ll know your options. If your local shelter doesn’t accept pets, here are the steps to plan your family’s safe evacuation:

Map out two potential cities that you could evacuate to, depending on the predicted path of dangerous weather, and locate pet friendly accommodations in each city.

    • If you’ll stay with family or friends, call to ask whether they’ll also welcome your pet.
    • If you’ll stay at a hotel or campground, use a website like to find the best options. Ask about breed and weight restrictions and any additional pet fees. When you make your selection, print out the name, address, phone number, and driving directions to each location and keep them in your emergency kit.

While traveling, be sure to secure your pet in your vehicle with either a car harness or a crate or carrier that’s been anchored to the floor.

READ MORE ⇒  Tips For Traveling Alone With Pets

Sign indicating hurricane evacuation route


It takes time to make sure you’re prepared for an emergency evacuation with pets. But a little advance planning can save you a lot of stress and heartache in an emergency. Know yourself, know your pets, and make sure you have a plan to keep everyone safe and happy!



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