If any of you remember the sad images of human and animals alike stranded on rooftops after Hurricane Katrina and Sandy, then youíll understand why itís so important to not only prepare for the human members of your family, but for your pets as well. 


Donít leave your pets behind. In the event that evacuation becomes necessary, take your pets with you. Their chances of survival are slim if you leave them behind, and if they do survive, you may not be able to find each other again when you come back home. While youíre planning how you and your family will evacuate if necessary, include pet transport and supplies in your plan. If your pet has problems getting in and out of crates or with whatever you use to secure your animal in the vehicle:  practice, practice, practice. This will take the stress out of the activity so that itís completely routine if you ever need to get them in the car in a hurry.


Have a back-up plan. What would you do if you were unable to get back to your house to evacuate your pet? Have a buddy system with a neighbor who will evacuate with your pet if you canít come back. We think itís a good idea to have at least two different people who will help you (and you them) get your pets to safety if needed. Make sure the people included in any back-up plans have access to your home and are comfortable with your pets Ė including getting them secured in their vehicle.


Make an emergency to go bag for your pets.  Items to include:

Re-sealable plastic bag: Pet License, microchip, ID, photos of pet with owner(s), proof of up to date vaccinations and name/phone of their veterinarian 

Proper size metal or plastic pet carrier - CRATE

Leashes and obedience aids, booties to protect feet

dISASTER pLANNINGFirst Aid Kit: cotton bandages, bandage tape and scissors, antibiotic ointment, latex gloves, tweezers, saline solution, and a basic pet first aid book. 

Food: Wet with easy lid (Dry vacuum packed), bowls 

Water in non-breakable containers, 3 days worth

Medications, with instructions

Special needs items for exotic pets, such as a heat source

Newspapers, paper towels, handy-wipes, can openers, a flashlight, blankets, litter


Evacuate (In order of preference)

1)To Family or Friends home

2)To pet friendly hotel

3)To county shelter that excepts pets (County Animal Response Team shelter) 

   Most emergency shelters do not allow pets. Make sure you check with your local shelters before including them in your planning. If you have to go to a shelter, this would be a good time to fire up the back-up plan.  


Returning Home

   Leash your pets when they go outside. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and your pet may become confused and lost. 

   The behavior of your pets may change after an emergency. Normally quiet and friendly pets may become aggressive or defensive. 

   Sharp objects, downed electric lines, fallen trees and other debris, or contaminated water, as well as raccoons, skunks or other wild animals that have entered the area, could present danger to your pet. Do not  

   leave unattended and off-leash.


It isnít exactly pleasant to prepare for the possibility of bad things happening, but the bottom line is that you should prepare. It doesnít take long to get everything organized, and practicing will cost you roughly 15 minutes every now and again. Youíd be mighty thankful you were already prepared if you had to get out of the area within the hour, when thereís no time to run around, and the cat is freaking out and hiding under the bed. Everyone grabbing their stuff and getting the pets set like a well-oiled machine is a much better option. 


Ready.gov, launched by the Federal Management Emergency Agency (FEMA) back in 2003, is a national public service announcement campaign designed to educate the citizens of the United States on how to prepare and respond to national emergencies. The Ready website has a wealth of information to peruse, and they didnít leave pets out. The NJ Department of Agriculture has a great selection of information on pet preparedness. Read over some of the most important advice on pet disaster preparedness below, and then contact your County Animal Response Team for further information. 


There are a number of great links on line where you can get information about developing an emergency plan for your animals. 


ReadyPetsGo is a supporter of GSART and provides good info on planning and preparedness including templates for pet owners to use when developing their plans -- also kid friendly pages!