Make sure that you and your pets are prepared for emergencies by planning ahead. Use these pet safety tips from experts to protect and account for furry family members should a disaster occur.

By Karen Asp

Hopefully, you'll never need to evacuate your home during a natural disaster—but being proactive about safeguarding your pets can make an emergency situation a little smoother and offer you peace of mind. We know you regard your pets with the same kind of love as a family member, so they deserve a safety plan for an emergency that is just as thorough. Make sure to pack a kit for them, have a strategy of where you'll go with them in the case of evacuation, and consider adding a layer of insurance in the unfortunate instance that you become separated from your furry companions.

Image courtesy of Getty.

1. Create a Go Kit

Just as we should have one, so should our pets. If you’re faced with evacuating for a hurricane, wildfire, flooding, or even a power outage, being prepared can make a big difference in quickly getting your animals to safety, says Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.

In addition to enough food and water for at least five days and supplies your pet uses daily (medicines, a leash or harness, carrier, and blanket), include current photos and descriptions of your pets in case they go missing.

Write down your pets’ feeding schedules, vet contact info, and any behavioral or medical issues. Record the info on a sheet of paper that you laminate, add it as a note in your phone, or write it in a notebook that has a copy of your pets’ vaccination records stapled into it. Remember to update it once a year.

2. Map Out a Safe Haven

The key is to know your options should you need to evacuate. Start by making a list of hotels that allow pets. (Try the free BringFido app or to find pet-friendly hotels.) Contact your city or state office of emergency management to find out where pet-friendly shelters will be located. Also check with animal shelters or kennels within driving distance to see if they can take in animals during crises, Block says.

Another strategy: “Have a pet buddy,” advises Nicole Forsyth, president and CEO of RedRover in Sacramento. Ask a friend or family member who lives within driving distance if they could help your pet in an emergency; give them what they need to access your pet in your absence.

3. Think About a Microchip

A microchip is an added layer of insurance (in addition to a collar tag) in case you’re separated. In fact, one study of pets in shelters showed that ones with microchips had a higher rate of return to their families. All it takes is a quick shot to insert the microchip under your pet’s skin. You then register the chip online for about $20; if your pet is ever lost and ends up at a shelter or vet, they can scan the chip to contact you.

Remember, your pets are counting on you. Pets are part of the family, and it's imperative that they be included in all disaster plans. Whether it's a tornado, a traffic accident, or a terrorist attack, preparedness can save lives—and these tips will help you feel reassured that your family's pets will be safe and cared for in any situation.


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