Learn how to be a better Good Samaritan for pets at the Sunbear Squad web site.

Disaster Plans for Pets

Be prepared if disaster strikes! Make plans now to avoid being disorganized when the pressure is on to evacuate your household.

Laser this page and post it near your supplies for last-minute reference. Show this list to your pet sitter too. Make a "Disaster Supply Corner." Dedicate a corner of your home, basement, garage, or attic, for these emergency supplies.

Disaster List for Pet-owning Households

  • Crates, cages, or containers, for evacuating every pet in your household
  • Bedding for crates
  • Vehicle with room for all crates, food, water, and personal gear. Responsible pet owners will always own one vehicle that is large enough for evacuating pets.
  • Collapsible pen or temporary fencing
  • Cat litter box and extra litter
  • Leashes and collars (with ownership and rabies tags) for every pet
  • Toys and treats
  • Water for drinking, 2 gallons for each person and pet
  • Pet food (sealed for storage) in plastic bins, enough for two weeks
  • Bleach (plain household) to treat drinking water (12 drops per gallon)
  • Dropper to measure bleach into water
  • Reciprocal Pet Fostering records
  • Instructions for pet care and feeding
  • Pet medications
  • Veterinary records
  • Photos of all pets showing identifying marks loaded to CD and printed, and vaccination forms
  • List of pet-friendly lodging options and phone numbers
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight and extra batteries

Pet Sitter Instructions

Make sure that your pet sitter knows that you have a disaster plan for your pets. Show your pet sitter your disaster supply corner, your Disaster List for Pet-owning Households, and your Reciprocal Pet Fostering agreements.

Tell your pet sitter that your pets must be evacuated in a disaster, and that you expect him or her to agree to this requirement. Explain that you will compensate for the extra time and work required.

If your pet sitter can't agree to evacuating your pets, then instruct your sitter to prepare your pets to survive the disaster for at least 2 weeks. Laser the Pet Survival Plan below, and post it in your disaster supply corner.

Pet Survival Plan

Make an Indoor/Outdoor Pet Shelter in Your Home

Turn your home into an indoor/outdoor pet shelter so that they can survive without you for at least 2 weeks.

Advance Preparations

  1. Microchip your pets, so they may be identified if you are separated from them.
  2. Make photographs of your pets for identification, including views of important identifying markings, and keep these with your important papers.
  3. Ask your pet sitter or a neighbor to call you immediately wherever you are, if a disaster threatens or occurs, any time of day or night.
  4. If you receive such a call while you are away, call your Reciprocal Foster to make pet care plans.

Before Leaving the Pets

  1. Remove one entrance door from its hinges (store it on the floor in a distant room) to allow at-will, safe, and permanent access to the outdoors. The door should not be exposed to prevailing winds. Yes, there are risks involved with leaving your home open. If you can, take your pets with you instead.
  2. Open all windows to allow air circulation in hot climates.
  3. Post a large sign inside a window that reads: PLEASE RESCUE OUR PETS, if you are uncertain about whether you can return within 2 weeks.
  4. Post a list TO RESCUERS near the inside entrance that includes:
    –Your contact information
    –Your reciprocal foster contact information
    –All pets by name and type, and any medical needs
    –State that you will make attempts to find and claim your pets
  5. Fill all bathtubs and sinks with clean water. Fill buckets with clean water. Fill big plastic tote bins with clean water. Distribute clean water throughout the house. In hot weather, dehydration can kill in 2 to 3 days, especially young, ill, or elderly pets!
  6. Treat the drinking water so that the standing water doesn't develop bacterial infestations: 16 drops of plain household chlorine bleach per gallon of water.
  7. Distribute all of your emergency pet food in pans, buckets, and bowls, at least a month's supply.
  8. Distribute pet toys and favorite beds or blankets.
  9. Clean all cat litter boxes and fill with litter.
  10. Turn furniture over that you don't want pets climbing on (list these).
  11. Unplug all outlets throughout the house.
  12. Turn off gas or heating oil connections.
  13. Turn off water mains to the house.

Return within 2 weeks without fail. Your pets are your responsibility; pray that they will be alive and waiting for you.

Reality Check: This is not the time to worry about poop and pee. If your pets survive the disaster and the aftermath, be grateful.

For more resources on the topic of rescue of animals in emergencies, including preparedness information, check out this page:
Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS)

Reciprocal Pet Fostering

Make a Reciprocal Pet Fostering Agreement (in Microsoft Word format) with a relative or friend who lives at least 50 miles away or out of your immediate disaster zone (you know if you are living in one).

Agree that each party will agree to foster and care for each other's pets in case of an emergency. The Agreement Form includes important care considerations such as:

  • Term of care, or time limits
  • Care expense plans
  • Medical needs and veterinary expense plans
  • Diet information
  • Any sheltering considerations, such as fencing, kenneling, or chaining requirements
  • Information about how your pets get along with other pets, children, traffic, etc.

Quick Links

Disaster List for Pet-owning Households

Pet Sitter Instructions

Pet Survival Plan

Reciprocal Pet Fostering Agreement

Here are some pet-friendly lodging web sites to take note of, so you know where to go with your pets.

Evacuate Your Pets Too

The "Top 10" reasons why you need to take them out of harm's way, even if it is hard to do. Here's why:

10. You can't expect someone else to rescue them. Your pets are your responsibility. Period.

9. Without electricity for air conditioning, heavy-coat pets will die of heat stroke in hot climates.

8. Without electricity for heating, thin-coat pets will freeze to death in cold weather.

7. The disaster could kill them.

6. They could die painfully from lack of water.

5. They could die from drinking contaminated water.

4. They could escape, join a pack, and be shot.

3. They could slowly starve to death.

2. You may never see them again. Ever.

1. They will be completely traumatized by suffering, if they live.

Just take them with you and you won't have to worry about them. It's the right thing to do.

Watch. Listen. Call.