Flood evacuations: Don’t forget to plan for your pets

TAMPA  – The record-breaking rain pelting the Tampa Bay area has prompted mandatory evacuation orders in some parts of Pasco County, and doctors from BluePearl Veterinary Partners hospitals are reminding families to include their furry friends when making emergency plans.

“We all know that floods can quickly become dangerous,” said Dr. Jennifer Welser, chief medical officer for BluePearl Veterinary Partners. “But in the stress of the moment, don’t forget you need a plan for every member of the family, 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.

Bad weather is often accompanied by power outages and water shortages. Since your veterinarian may also have to evacuate, make sure you have an ample 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:


  • 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.
  • Monitor your pets’ behavior because animals can become defensive or aggressive due to the stress of the situation.



  • 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



  • Walk pets on leashes until they become re-oriented to the area. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and pets could easily be confused and become lost. Also, downed power lines, debris, snakes and other critters brought in with high water can all pose a threat for animals after a disaster.
  • If your pet is lost during a disaster, contact your local animal control office to find out where lost animals are being housed. Bring along a picture of your pet and any microchip information.