Disaster Plans: Don’t Forget Your Pets

Create an emergency plan with your pet in mindWhen natural disaster strikes, it’s chaotic and overwhelming. Wildfires, tornadoes, earthquakes, blizzards and hurricanes can do damage to your home and cause evacuations.

“We all know that natural disasters can strike with very little warning,” said Dr. Jennifer Welser, chief medical officer for BluePearl Veterinary Partners. “Taking the time to create a disaster plan can save your life and the lives of family members – including your pets.”

Many evacuation shelters don’t accept pets and, if they do, it is important to have a copy of your pet’s complete vaccination record when you show up, otherwise your pet may be turned away.

In addition to the destruction a natural disaster can inflict, some events can cause lengthy power outages and water shortages. Since your veterinarian may also have to evacuate, make sure you have a two-week supply of your pet’s medications, food and water.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers the following recommendations for pets in case of a disaster:


  • Make sure your pets are current on their vaccinations. Pet shelters may require proof of vaccines.
  • If your pet requires a carrier, be sure it is the appropriate size– carriers should be large enough for the animal to stand and turn around.
  • Find a safe place to take your pet in the event of an emergency. Specialized pet shelters, animal control shelters, veterinary clinics, and friends and relatives out of harm’s way are all potential refuges for your pet during a disaster.
  • Contact hotels outside your immediate area to check policies on accepting pets and restrictions on number, size and species. Ask if “no pet” policies can be waived in an emergency.


  • Call ahead to confirm emergency shelter arrangements for you and your pets.
  • Bring all pets into the house so that you won’t have to search for them if you have to leave in a hurry.
  • Make sure all dogs and cats are wearing collars and securely fastened, up-to-date identification. Attach the phone number and address of your temporary shelter, or that of a friend or relative outside the disaster area.
  • Check to be sure your pet disaster supplies are ready to take at a moment’s notice.


  • Proper identification, including immunization records
  • A current photograph of you and your pet together
  • Ample food and water supply
  • A carrier or cage
  • A first aid kit
  • Medications
  • Collar and leash
  • Familiar items such as favorite toys, treats or bedding
  • Sanitation supplies such as a litter box, newspapers, paper towels and plastic bags

In addition to the FEMA recommendations, we suggest talking to your family veterinarian about having your pets microchipped, so in the event you and your pets are separated, your pets can be quickly identified and reunited with you.

During a disaster, BluePearl Veterinary Partners specialty and emergency hospitals remain open unless forced to evacuate. BluePearl hospitals are not evacuation shelters and only provide emergency and specialty treatment