Pet Corner: Disaster Prep for Pets

By Dawn M. Aerts

In this part of the country, we have few disasters other than the potential for forest fires.  But calamities can come in many forms and are unpredictable. For pet owners, it is helpful to ‘think through’ the possible disasters and to plan for everyday emergencies.

For instance, the Humane Society of the U.S. suggests that pet tags, dog or cat collars include useful identification, a phone, cell number or consider imbedding a micro-chip.  In many disasters animals end up in a shelter with staff unable to connect with owners.

Likewise, pet owners should locate or arrange for a safe-place back up before there is an alert to evacuate.  According to disaster preparedness experts, animals may be prohibited from a shelter designed for people. If left behind, it is unlikely they would survive days or weeks.

Owners are also encouraged to check out boarding kennels, vet kennels, or hotels and motels outside of the area that would provide space and pet-friendly policies in an emergency.  In the case of wildfires, floods, or earthquakes, pet owners are encouraged to ‘take their pets’ with them.

Pets left behind can easily be injured or lost to the disaster.

While there may be times when you can’t get home to your dog, cat or horse(s), owners should plan for care with a trusted neighbor, a relative or friend.  During some of the recent wildfire outbreaks in California, domestic and farm animals were left in catastrophic conditions–some left behind in locked barns, or in isolated and fenced locations.

Barn and structural fires are the most common disaster for animals.

According to the American Humane Society, most evacuations require that owners also plan on what is best to do for horses or livestock:  that may be confining them to an available shelter or turning them out into open pastures. Transportation is sometimes not an option but trailering with the help of others should be considered.

Here is a partial list of how to prepare for the extreme (in home) or neighborhood evacuation and a checklist for families with pets:

  • Provide for at least five to seven days of water by the gallon per adult, child or pet.
  • Store medications, records in a waterproof container with a first aid kit.
  • Sturdy leashes, harnesses or carriers to transport smaller animals safely.
  • Horse halters with luggage tags (for identification).
  • Stock paper towels, plastic trash bags, cleaning wipes, gloves and newspaper; blankets, towels.
  • For more information on disaster preparedness for animals, domestic or livestock visit

You Can Be a Hero…by providing a safe and caring home for a homeless dog or cat.  For adoption information contact the Enoch, or Cedar City Animal Shelter in your area, at 435-586-8791, or 435-586-2960.  In support of local animal shelters.



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