Pets are part of 62% of American households. They entertain, comfort, and help us. In return, they look to us to take care of their well-being. Part of being prepared for emergencies is being ready to take care of your pets as well as your human family members.
Pet Preparedness at Home
Know where to find an emergency veterinarian if your regular vet’s office is closed. In Lexington, we’re familiar with*:
(If you’re an emergency vet with night/weekend/holidays hours, contact us and we’ll add you to the list).
Include pet supplies in your household emergency reserves – food, water, and any necessary hygiene supplies. Be sure to rotate food and treats before they expire.
Assemble a pet emergency kit for evacuations or other severe events.
Make sure each of your pets has a collar with your contact information and a vaccination tag, and ask your vet about having your pets microchipped. Giving rescuers multiple ways to identify your pets makes it more likely that they’ll be returned to you if you become separated from them.
Evacuating With Pets
If your home isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your animals. Your evacuation plans and preparations should include your pets.
For everyone’s safety, be able to keep your pets under control while they’re subject to the stress of unfamiliar vehicles and shelters.
Sheltering and Care
Legislation passed after Hurricane Katrina ensures that state and local authorities should address the needs of households with pets and service animals. Most jurisdictions have animal sheltering plans in place for major disasters. However, animal shelters may be separate from the shelters for humans.
If your pet requires medication, special food, or other care, attach a laminated instruction sheet to the carrier. Include prescription information, as well as contact information for your regular veterinarian. Shelter personnel should know how to care for cats and dogs, but may not be familiar with birds, rodents, and other less-common pets, so basic care and feeding instructions may be helpful with these animals.
Note that federal policy doesn’t include the following classes of animals in the definition of household pets: “reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects/arachnids, farm animals (including horses), and animals kept for racing purposes.” You may love your tarantula or Burmese python, but emergency shelters aren’t currently required to admit it. Consider alternate emergency shelter and care arrangements for such animals. Zoo collections, lab animals, and other exotic species may present similar challenges.
See the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Ready.gov page on caring for animals.
The Humane Society of the United States offers many resources on pet disaster preparedness.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) also has an extensive disaster preparedness page.
Review our blog posts on pet safety and preparedness.
* Disclaimer: The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government and the LFUCG Division of Emergency Management do not endorse any goods or services mentioned in our blog posts, social media statements, press releases, or website content. Any mention of commercial products is for informational purposes only.