How to Prepare Yourself and Your Pets for an Emergency

When presented with an emergency, quick-thinking and fast-acting are musts. Remaining calm is a key factor, especially around young children and pets. The biggest factor in emergencies, however, is being prepared.

We’ve been taught from a young age how to prepare ourselves and our families for weather and hazardous emergencies. What most people haven’t been taught, unfortunately, is how to prepare their pets for the same emergencies so that they too can feel and be safe. Keep reading for the key elements in preparing in advance for emergency evacuations with animals.

Identification & Documentation

The first step in preparing your pets for any kind of emergency is to make sure they are properly identified. If you have domestic pets, such as dogs or cats, you can easily get them microchipped with a simple vet visit. They should also have a tagged collar, worn at all times, which confirm the pet’s name and last vaccines administered with an emergency phone number.

Along with identification comes documentation. In sealable waterproof bags, make copies of all important documents—immunizations, medicine dosages, proof of ownership, vet visit reports, food dosages, and photos. If there is an emergency, you want all of the important information to already be gathered so you can grab it and go.

Housing Situations

You’ll need to assess your dog’s housing to see if it’s adequate for an emergency. For instance, if you have a service dog, you’ll need to determine if in an emergency your service dog will still be able to assist you at full capacity. For a farm dog, you’ll need to see if either the outdoor or indoor shelters pose a threat to your dog’s well-being during emergencies.

Have Equipment Ready

When disaster strikes, you cannot waste time by trying to organize all of your valuables. Everything needs to be ready to go at a moment’s notice.

For dogs and cats, this means gathering crates, leashes, food, medication, and water. If your dog is a certified service animal, you should also include his or her vest. This is important not only to identify your animal, but also to let any first responders know that the service dog is actively assisting a human and to not separate human and animal.

Make an Evacuation Plan

Now that you have your documents and equipment ready, you should have a plan to evacuate during an emergency. You need to consider your location, your surrounding areas, and the pets you will be bringing with you.

Find the best traveling route away from your home and land, and consider the possibility of blocked or damaged roads. If you are taking your pets with you, make sure there is enough room in your vehicle to transport their crate and all necessary equipment and supplies.

Ensure the road is accessible that and the weather does not prohibit travel. Remain calm but act quickly to gather your dog or dogs so that they follow your command without becoming frightened or anxious.

You should also call ahead if you are looking to find a pet-friendly shelter. Not all hotels allow animals, and some clinics prohibit pets from entering, even during emergencies. You will want to make sure that wherever you’re headed will not turn you and your animals away.

Coordinate With Friends and Family

A final step in preparing for emergency evacuations is to have a dialogue with nearby friends, neighbors, and family. Let as many people as possible know the pets you keep in your house or on farm so that if one escapes, they will know it belongs to you.

If you are unable to take any or all of your dogs with you, leaving them in the care of a neighbor or friend is a great backup plan. As long as their identification and documentation are included with them, they will be okay in the care of someone else.

Having a plan set before disaster strikes is the key to making sure you and your loved ones are prepared for any emergency. Take the time now to review your plan and assemble an emergency kit for yourself and your dogs.


Emily is a freelance wildlife conservation and pet blogger. To check out more of her work, see her blog, Conservation Folks, or follow her Twitter account @emilysfolk.

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