It's About Pets

Disaster Planning for Dog and Cat Owners


PLAN AHEAD. In the event of an evacuation, pets may not be allowed inside human emergency shelters. Determine the best place to leave your pet in case of a disaster. Identify an off-site location as well as a place in your home.

IDENTIFICATION AND PHOTOGRAPHS. Dogs and cats should always wear properly fitting collars, personal identification, rabies, and license tags. Make sure all the information on the tags is current. Keep a current photo of each pet. Make sure any distinguishing markings are visible. You will need proof of ownership to retrieve your pet from a shelter.

DISASTER KIT . Maintain a disaster preparedness supply kit for each of your pets.

PAPERWORK AND RECORDS. Store important animal documents in a zip-lock or waterproof plastic bag. These should include vaccination and medical records.

VACCINATIONS. Your pets need to be current on vaccinations. You will be required to show proof of vaccination if you need to board your pet.

TRANSPORTATION. Each animal should have its own pet carrier. Familiarize your pet with the carrier or cage before an emergency.

LEASHES AND COLLARS. Keep a leash handy for each dog and cat in your home. Consider using a harness.

BUDDY SYSTEM. In case you are not home when disaster strikes, ask a trusted neighbor to check on your animals. Exchange veterinary information and file a permission slip with your veterinarian authorizing them to get emergency treatment for your pet if you can't be located.

Disaster Preparedness Kit  

  • Your veterinarian's information
  • Portable radio and extra batteries
  • Pet carrier or cage for each pet
  • Two weeks' supply of food and water
  • Non-spill food and water bowls
  • Medications and dosing instructions
  • Pet first-aid kit
  • Vaccination and medical records
  • Cat litter box and litter
  • Plastic bags for waste disposal
  • Paper towels
  • A current photograph of each pet

Be sure to provide your pets with as many amenities as possible. Remember, they are counting on you for their support and survival!


Listen to the Emergency Alert System ( EAS ) on the TV or radio.

If you take your pet:

Evacuate your pet early, if possible.

Take your disaster preparedness kit, including the pet's vaccination and medical records, as well as identification photographs with you.

It you can't take your pet with you:

Bring your pet indoors. Do not leave pets chained outdoors. Prepare a pre-selected site indoors for your pet. Use a room with no windows but adequate ventilation, such as a utility room, garage, bathroom, or other area that can be easily cleaned. Do not tie them up.

Leave only dry foods and fresh water in non-spill containers. If possible, open a faucet to let water drip into a large container or partially fill a bathtub with water.

Do not leave vitamin treats, which could be fatal if over-eaten.

House cats and dogs separately, even if they normally get along.


Pet behavior may change after an emergency. Monitor your pets closely and keep them leashed. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered, causing confusion and abnormal behavior.

Be aware of downed power lines, fallen trees, debris, and local wildlife.

If you find a pet, call animal control or any emergency phone numbers set up after the disaster. Isolate it from your animals until it is returned to its owner or can be examined by a veterinarian.

If you lose your pet:

Visit each shelter in your area at least once every other day. Keep a current photo of your pet showing or describing any distinctive markings.

Create a flyer with your pet's photo and description, pet's name, your name, and phone numbers where you can be reached.

When you do find your pet, immediately examine it for illness or injuries. Obtain medical attention from your veterinarian, if needed.

Use caution when handling animals. Panicky or injured animals may bite.

For additional disaster preparedness information, see other documents on this website or visit the California Department of Food and Agriculture's website at