The information contained in this section was taken from the local panhandle chapter of the American Red Cross. The information contained here is subject to change, please always verify the most current information with the local Red Cross or disaster preparedness agencies.
In an emergency, your pets will be even more dependent on you for their safety and well-being. Your family’s disaster plans must include your furry family members too. Learn what to do to keep your beloved pets safe. Click on the tabs below for more information.
Planning and preparation will enable you to evacuate with your pets quickly and safely. But bear in mind that animals react differently under stress. Outside your home and in the car, keep dogs securely leashed and buckled in with a secure chest harness or crated. Transport cats in carriers. Don’t leave animals unattended anywhere they can run off. The most trustworthy pets may panic, hide, try to escape or even bite or scratch.
Have a Safe Place To Take Your Pets
It may be difficult to find shelter for your animals in the midst of a disaster, so plan ahead. Do not wait until disaster strikes to do your research. Many communities are developing pet-friendly shelter plans, check to see if your local emergency shelter plan includes pets. All emergency shelters in Bay County, Florida are pet friendly.
Contact hotels and motels outside your immediate area to check policies on accepting pets and restrictions on number, size, and species. Ask if “no pet” policies could be waived in an emergency. Keep a list of “pet-friendly” places, including phone numbers, with other disaster information and supplies. If you have notice of an impending disaster, call ahead for reservations. Go to Pet’s Welcome to search online for pet-friendly hotels and motels.
Ask friends, relatives, or others outside the affected area whether they could shelter your animals. If you have more than one pet, they may be more comfortable if kept together, but be prepared to house them separately.
Prepare a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians who could shelter animals in an emergency; include 24-hour phone numbers. Check your local phone books for Veterinarians and boarding shelters/kennels. Be aware that veterinarian and boarding facilities may and often do close well before a storm is projected to impact so that staff can prepare or evacuate.
Ask local animal shelters if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets in a disaster. Animal shelters may be overburdened caring for the animals they already have as well as those displaced by a disaster, so this should be your last resort.
Bay County Emergency Operations Center (850) 784-4000
You may not be home when the evacuation order comes. Find out if a trusted neighbor would be willing to take your pets and meet you at a prearranged location. This person should be comfortable with your pets, know where your animals are likely to be, know where your pet disaster supplies kit is kept, and have a key to your home. If you use a petsitting service, they may be available to help, but discuss the possibility well in advance.
While all Bay County emergency shelters are pet-friendly, not all types of pets are welcome. Verify ahead of time to make sure your pet is able to go with you.
Some shelters will require pets to be housed separately, while others require you to be responsible for the care and feeding of your animals. Check ahead of time so you are aware of the shelter policies and be prepared upon arrival.
You should have the following available to take to the shelter:
- Shot records indicating currency of all vaccination, in particular Rabies, Parvo, and Bordatella
- Medications include flea, tick, and heartworm medications
- Crate, cage, or another sturdy container for each animal
- Dog’s name and your name on the crate, medications, food, water, etc
- Blankets if the animal is used to sleeping on such
- Food, in a suitable container and bowl, for at least five days
- Potable water and water bowl for at least five days
- First aid kit
- Collar with the dog’s identification and your identification (dog’s name and your telephone number)
- Current photos of your animals in case they escape
- Microchip numbers
- Vet’s name and telephone number
- Favorite toys
- Newspapers and plastic bags to handle and dispose of waste
- Rubber or plastic gloves
- Cat litter and a small plastic dishpan that fits into the cat’s carrier or container
If you are responsible for walking your dog, don’t let the animal drink any stormwater as it is probably contaminated. Make sure you walk your dog on a sturdy leash to prevent its escape. Don’t turn them loose as there might be a problem with snakes, loose hostile animals, or downed power lines. Watch for broken glass, roofing nails, and any other injury-threatening conditions.
Assemble a portable pet disaster supplies kit NOW. Whether you are away from home for a day or a week, you’ll need essential supplies. Keep items in an accessible place and store them in sturdy containers that can be carried easily (duffle bags, covered trash containers, etc.). Your pet disaster supplies kit should include:
- Medications and medical records and shot records (stored in a waterproof container)
- First aid kit consisting of at least the following:
- Gauze rolls and pads
- Adhesive or first-aid tape
- Roll bandages that stretch and cling
- Hydrogen peroxide for cleaning wounds and for inducing vomiting
- Antiseptic cream
- Magnifying glass
- Saline solution or eye lubricant
- Plastic syringe for administering liquid medications
- Ice pack
- Compact thermal blanket or a regular blanket
- Benedryl — if approved by your veterinarian
- Anti-diarrhea medication for dogs — if approved by your veterinarian
- Written prescriptions for medications your dog takes regularly
- Pet first-aid booklet
- Telephone numbers for your vet, a vet in the city you’re visiting, an after-hours emergency vet hospital, and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: (888) 426-4435
- Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, and behavior problems
- Pet beds and toys, if easily transportable
- Crate for each dog
- Carrying case for each cat
- Sturdy leashes, harnesses, and/or carriers to transport pets safely and ensure that your animals can’t escape
- Current photos of your pets in case they get lost
- Food, potable water, bowls, cat litter/pan, and manual can opener
No time to put together a first-aid kit? Order one that is already stocked with many of the items listed above. Several companies and nonprofit organizations sell first-aid kits. Your local Red Cross Chapter sells one containing most of the items for a very reasonable price.
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. You can buy temporary tags or put adhesive tape on the back of your pet’s ID tag, adding information with an indelible pen.
If you evacuate your home, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND! Pets most likely cannot survive on their own; and if by some remote chance they do, you may not be able to find them when you return.
Sites to help you get started:
Your pet’s behavior may change dramatically after a disaster, becoming aggressive or defensive. Be aware of their well-being and protect them from hazards to ensure the safety of other people and animals.
- Watch your animals closely and keep them under your direct control as fences and gates may have been damaged
- Pets may become disoriented, particularly if the disaster has affected scent markers that normally allow them to find their home
- Be aware of hazards at the nose and paw or hoof level, particularly debris, spilled chemicals, fertilizers, and other substances that might not seem to be dangerous to humans
- Consult your veterinarian if any behavior problems persist