Even during an emergency, pet owners are responsible for always making sure their animals have proper food, water, and shelter. Finding supplies and a place to stay for both you and your pets can be difficult, especially when demand is high during and after a disaster. Following the planning steps below will help everyone, including our furry family members, have a safe place to go during unsafe times.
Dogs, cats, and other small animals
Assemble a portable pet disaster supplies kit
- Medications and medical records
- First aid kit
- Leashes, harnesses, and/or carriers
- Current photos of your pet with you (digital and hardcopy)
- Food, water, bowls, cat litter, and pan
- Pet beds and toys, if easily transportable
Have a safe place to take your pet
- Contact hotels outside of your immediate area to check policies on accepting pets, including restrictions on number, size, and species
- Identify friends or relatives outside your area who can shelter your pets during an emergency
- Be prepared to house your pets separately
- Prepare a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians who can shelter animals in an emergency (include 24-hour numbers)
Make sure your pet is clearly identified.
- Make sure all dogs and cats are wearing collars with securely fastened current identification
- You can buy temporary tags or put adhesive tape on the back of your pet’s ID tag and add information with permanent ink
- Identification microchips are highly recommended
FEMA has also made further pet preparedness information available.
If you have horses, you should evacuate as soon as a voluntary evacuation order is issued. These preliminary warnings are meant for people with circumstances complicating their evacuation - and that includes horse owners!
- Train horses to lead and trailer
- Keep your truck and trailer in safe, working condition
- Make prior arrangements for sheltering
- Evacuate early!
Other Large Animals
You need an evacuation plan for all of your animals, no matter the species. Los Angeles County Animal Care & Control does not endorse a shelter-in-place strategy for any animals, large or small. Firefighters are not responsible for evacuating animals, nor are they liable for damage done to release trapped animals (cutting through fences, breaking doors, etc.). Make a plan now for all of your animals.
Even under normal circumstances, losing track of a pet can be distressing. Losing a pet immediately before, during, or after a natural disaster amplifies that heartbreak and stress. Keep in mind, the number of missing pets usually increases significantly after a natural disaster. Your best chance for a happy reunion is keeping updated photos of your pet on your phone, having your pets microchipped, and providing contact information on their collar.
During and immediately following a disaster, you may want to keep your pet inside and/or leashed more frequently than normal. A runaway pet is often responding to the anxiety and stress of an unfamiliar situation. Anything you can do to minimize that stress can help keep your pet safely by your side.