Miss Kira’s Corner

Emergency Evacuations or Shelter-in-Place Disaster Preparedness for Your Pets

By September 20, 2017 No Comments

By the Veterinarians and Staff at Porte Veterinary Hospital

A disaster plan is complete only when it includes the family’s pets. We’ve learned lessons from hurricanes Katrina, Harvey, and Irma about the importance of planning ahead whether instructed to shelter-in-place or evacuate. And FEMA has made it very clear, in the event of an evacuation situation, we should take our pets with us.

Although we don’t have to worry about hurricanes here in the Silicon Valley, we should prepare for earthquakes, fires, mudslides, floods, as well as manmade disasters such as gas leaks, chemical spills, police activity, and even terrorism.

When it comes to disaster preparedness for pets, one disaster plan is usually applicable across most types of disasters, but you may have special circumstances which should be included in your custom plan.

Planning Ahead for Your Pets:

  1. Do you have a predetermined destination where you plan to take your pets in the case of a disaster or emergency evacuation?
  2. How will you transport your pets from home to the predetermined destination?
  3. If you are not home or unable to evacuate your own pets, who is your designated pet rescuer? Consider choosing a reliable neighbor or a responsible friend or relative who lives close to your home.
  4. Does your designated pet rescuer have access (keys, codes, etc.) to your house in order to retrieve your pets and their pet evacuation packs?
  5. Have you provided your pet rescuer with a copy of the house floor plan marking the places where your pets may be hiding and where the pet evacuation packs are always stored?
  6. How will your designated pet rescuer transport your pets to your predetermined destination?
  7. If the power is out, the phone lines are down, the cell towers are jammed, and the cable is off, how should your designated pet rescuer communicate with you?

We’ve learned that text messaging often works even when voice calls won’t go through. We’ve also heard about people using Facebook’s instant messaging platform and their “Safety Check” app to mark themselves as “Safe”.

Porte’s Pets One-Page Disaster Preparedness Plan

Grab a sheet of paper, a pen, and write down your answers to the above seven questions.

Be sure to also note your pets’ names, date of birth, species, microchip number, any special needs or disabilities (deaf, blind, etc.) and any other pertinent information such as diabetes, pancreatitis, epilepsy, needs medication or is on a prescription diet, etc.

Note your name, address, phone numbers, mobile phone numbers, email address, and any of the social media accounts through which you may be able to send and receive instant messages. For example, Facebook’s messaging platform proved useful during Hurricane Irma.

Draw a simple map showing the basic floorplan of your home. On this map, mark the spot where the pet’s evacuation pack is always stored. Also mark several of the most likely places your pet may be hiding. And please remember, you or the designated pet rescuer may be working in the dark because of power outages.

Make a few copies and distribute your plan to your family members, the designated pet rescuer, neighbors, friends, etc., and place one copy in each pet’s evacuation pack.

Make time to discuss the plan with your family members and the designated pet rescuer. Show the pet rescuer where the pet’s evacuation pack is stored and point out the places your pet likes to hide. Demonstrate how to get your pet out from under the bed, or from behind the couch, etc., because if your pet is injured or feeling scared (after surviving an earthquake, for example) they may not come out from their hiding place when called.

Disaster plans don’t need to be complicated. In fact, a simple plan may be best. We hope the above seven questions and the following links will provide you with enough information to prepare your pet’s plan today.

Here are three links to additional helpful information:


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