Prepare for Emergency Evacuation to Prevent Homeless Pets

Are you prepared to evacuate your pets in case of an emergency or natural disaster in your area? Fires, floods, earthquakes, service disruptions, and other emergencies require quick action to evacuate yourselves and your pets. It’s critical that animal shelters train every employee and volunteer on what to do in case of an emergency. Many pets lose their lives or become homeless during emergencies. So often it wouldn’t have happened if the humans had only planned ahead.

Animal shelters can provide a community service by posting on their website a list of emergency action items specific to their area. Include information about pet-friendly emergency shelters, pet-friendly hotels outside your community that residents might go to in case of emergency, and boarding facilities in nearby communities that may provide a safe haven for pets.

Ask veterinarians to post this information on their bulletin boards.

Ask local newspapers to print this as a community service, particularly if your area faces a specific disaster, such as fire danger due to drought, hurricanes, or floods due to fast melting snow.

Find out how Pet Evacuation Legislation affects your area. The Pets Evacuation, Transportation Standards Act (PETS), which became law on October 6, 2006, was passed after the Katrina disaster. It requires that state and local Disaster Preparedness plans needed for Federal Emergency Management Agency funding include provisions for household pets and service animals. What provisions are available for pets in your area? Include this information in your emergency information. If no plans are in place, take the initiative to work with local officials to make plans.

To-Do List from the ASPCA. The ASPCA has a good list of disaster preparedness items for pet owners. This is a very thorough list; please take time to read it. Some key points include:

Plan ahead for potential boarding options for your pets and/or locate hotels that accept pets that are outside your immediate area if you had to leave your community. Not all emergency shelters allow pets. Pet-friendly hotels can be found at and Also see Pet Evacuation, Evacuation Pets, Pet-Friendly Emergency Shelters from Toward the bottom of the page, click on your state to see any disaster options for pets in your area.

Do you have a friend nearby who would remove your pets from your home if an emergency happened while you are at work? If not, think about this. Who could you ask? Could you offer to do the same for him/her?

Do you have an emergency kit ready to go if you had to make a quick getaway with your pets? Have crates and/or carriers near your exit door to save time. Make copies of each pet’s medical records and include each pet’s photo in your emergency kit.

If you have horses or other livestock, how would you provide for them if you had to evacuate?

Take time right away to make emergency plans for all the pets in your care.

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