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Will Your Animal Companions Be Protected in a Disaster?

What would happen to your beloved animal companions if a hurricane, a fire, a tornado, an earthquake, a flood, or another natural or human-made disaster were to strike tomorrow?

Review these tips to keep all your family members safe!

Before an Emergency Strikes

  • Have an animal emergency kit readily available. The kit should include a harness and leash or a carrier as well as bottled water, food and water bowls, dry and canned food, and a copy of your animal companions’ medical records. If you have a cat, have litter and a small litter tray ready to go.
  • Make sure that all your animals have collars or harnesses with identification. Keep a current photo of your animal companion for identification purposes, just as you would for a child.
  • Place PETA’s emergency window stickers near your front and back doors and on side windows in case a weather emergency or fire strikes when you are not home. These stickers will alert rescuers to animals in your home who need help.

During an Emergency

  • If you are being evacuated, never leave animals behind. There is no way of knowing what may happen to your home while you are away, and you may not be able to return for days or even weeks. Animal companions left behind may become malnourished or dehydrated or be crushed by collapsing walls. They may drown or escape in panic and become lost.
  • Know your destination ahead of time. Not all emergency shelters accept animals, but many hotels take animals (most suspend “no pet” policies during disasters, thankfully).
  • Place small animals in secure carriers. Dogs should be leashed and wearing harnesses. Be sure to take the animal emergency kit that you’ve prepared.

If Authorities Force You to Leave Your Animals Behind

  • Never turn animals loose outdoors—they can’t survive “on instinct.” Domesticated animals rely on their human companions for many things and are totally helpless and vulnerable outside, especially in bad weather. Instead, leave them in a secure area inside your home with access to the upper floors so that they can escape rising floodwaters.
  • Leave out at least a 10-day supply of water. Fill every bowl, pan, and Tupperware container that you have with water, then set them on the floor or on counters, as just one container may spill. Fill sinks, too. If your toilet bowl is free of chemical disinfectants, leave the toilet seat up to provide animals with one more source of water, but do not make that the only source.
  • Leave out at least a 10-day supply of dry food. Canned food will go bad quickly.
  • If you can’t get to your home, contact a reliable neighbor or friend to check on the animals and get them out, if possible. Provide specific instructions on care.

By planning now, you can make sure that all your loved ones can weather any storm. Remember: The question isn’t whether a disaster will strike—it’s when.

Commenting is closed.
  • shana Adkison says:

    Would they really force us to leave our animals?! Also I worry about floods…I have 2 cats and 2 dogs how do I keep them above the water!

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  • QuakeSafe says:

    Bravo. This is really good information for pet owners. We sell an emergency survival kit that is specifically designed for pets and it is shocking to us how many pet owners are prepared to weather a storm, but are not prepared to provide for their pets in an emergency…

  • Isabelle Tillett says:

    Please e mail all newsletters Thnk you

  • litterhouse says:

    This seems like quite a good idea for every pet owner. You never know when things can happen. All pet stores should carry this type of pet products. I will be making a kit for our dog Oscar

  • Virginia says:

    I’ve always been terrified of what would happen if there was a fire or something in my apartment how I could get my cat out safe ever since I was a small child. My answer to the question “If there was a fire in the house and you had time to grab one thing what would it be?” is always my cat. He’s like my furry little brother and I would never leave him behind, even if authorities made me leave him I wouldn’t. I would refuse to leave without him. Once I get a job (which is hopefully soon) I’ll start preparing and get some emergency kits for my cat (my mom thinks me wanting to do stuff like this is me just being overly paranoid and unnecessary) thanks for the article!

  • LaurynP says:

    It breaks my heart that people leave animals behind in the event of a disaster but having lived through hurricane Katrina (I’m from New Orleans and lived about 8 blocks from the 17th street canal levee breech) I can see how sometimes there is no other option. Do I think people should plan ahead and include pets in their plan? Absolutely. Unfortunately it doesn’t always happen. When Katrina hit most people, including the state government did not have a plan in effect because such a huge disaster had not been anticipated. I was lucky enough to have a reliable vehicle and money to pay for a hotel and later an apartment as well as the pet fees for my 4 cats that went along them. For some people public transportation is the only option. When it comes down to filling a bus with people or pets, I understand why the decision was made to go with people.

  • Jeremy says:

    i love that video of the helicopter throwing the lady out hahah love it,,maybe it will teach people what its like for an animal,,haha we need more stuff like that,,i think thats the key,,get humans to feel there pain,,i loveeee it

  • Sara says:

    This is a great post!
    My family has always had dogs, and in a restrictively outdoors regimen (we have a nice backyard and doghouses for shelter). Also here in Portugal noticeable earthquakes and wild weather are very rare, so I never really thought of this until I got my cat. She is mostly an indoor cat (I live in an apartment now), cats don’t just follow you on a leash and plus she is the jumpy kind. I really worry how I can keep her safe in a emergency situation. Even with a kit at hand I don’t know how she would react, if she would let me put her in a carrier in the middle of an earthquake for instance, or if she would even have the instinct to hide under a table or couch during the worse part (kind of like we are told to do) or if she would just panic and run around the house being hit by whatever junk would be falling from the shelves, ceiling, windows…
    Still, it is very helpful to read this and feel like I have a plan, to know just how much food and water is recommended we take and the likes.

  • Lea says:

    I’d never leave my dog. If a shelter or hotel wasn’t an option, we’d just live in my pickup truck or go crash with relatives. Hell, I’d put up a lean-to and camp out with my dog before I’d leave her behind. I don’t have an emergency kit per se, but come to think of it I have chlorine for treating water, a tarp for rigging shelter, some food, and a leash sitting in my truckbox right now. Guess I just need to add copies of my dog’s medical records and I’m good to go.
    If worst comes to worst, though, I disagree with the advice not to turn animals loose outside. My dog is bright enough to use her nose to find food and water. Animals are not as stupid as we think they are. I think a dog or cat stands a better chance if they’re free to go in search of food, water, higher ground, etc than if they’re locked up in a possibly flooded or burning house.

  • Shane.B says:

    This is helpful for people with cats, dogs, and other largish animals, but I just don’t know what I’d do if i was forced to leave my three rats. I’ll just have to be stubborn and refuse to leave without them. It’s tough out there for rats!

  • Karen says:

    This breaks my heart.The fact of people leaving animal companions behind. I cry reading this ! I have cockatiels( bird), I would never in a million years ABANDON THEM. I would choose to stay with them no matter what if there was no where to go with them. thankfully i am in an area that is not affected with floods. and other such destructable weather extremes.

  • Evalyn says:

    I would never leave my dogs no way always be with me!! Is not right people leave without dogs and cats is wrong!!! NEVER! NOT NICE!

  • Stacy Hollister says:

    I would never, ever leave Kush, my companion dog behind, no matter what the circumstances. He is my family. Leaving him behind to possibly starve, drown, become lost and terrified is simply not an option.

  • Lorri LePaige says:

    If anyone has an older dog that is good with famlies,we are willing to host them till times get better.

  • Lorri LePaige says:

    I think its its total BS that someone would leave their pet just because of a storm.I was raised in texas-never left a pet. Now I live in Iowa with tornado’s. I have been shut out of a number of shelters because I wouldn’t abandon my dog.If your not gonna make the long term commitment don’t get a pet. I would rather we die together than alone.

  • Wendy says:

    My van was equipped with everything my 3 cats and Black Lab Pup would need if I had to evacuate. It took 2 days to prepare but was soo worth it. We were very fortunate we didn’t even loose power.
    It’s heartbreaking to think that people would actually leave their animal family behind. How Awful!!

  • Linda A Levy says:

    I am appalled that people R asked to leave their pets behind in an evacution to most people they R just as much a part of the family as their children U R not asked to leave childrn behind so why should U have to leave your pets, it is very very sad , I feel for these people lets just pray that I never have to encounter this situation

  • Rebecca says:

    Thanks for the info. I have never really had to think about it thankfully, so far there is of course a first time for everything. I would NEVER leave home without my 2 cats and one bunny rabbit. Love them as much as I love my husband and daughter and I would certainly never leave in the event of a disaster without them. They are all family!

  • Sapphire says:

    I can’t even imagine living without my dog Tucky. She has been with me ever since she was a baby and I was smaller. She turns 7 today August 28. Knowing that I’ve had her so long means that she is much more than a companion to me, she is more of my little sister. I would cry for so long if I ever lost her or if something happened to her.

  • nancy says:

    The image still haunts me of the women getting on a bus and leaving her little dog by the side of the road. They would not allow animals on the bus. That was hurricane Katrina’s. Sorry I would not have boarded the bus. My animals mean the world to me.

  • Judy Dodson says:

    This is a very good article. I wish everyone felt the way we do about our companions. They are as much family as kids are. I don’t have pets right now, but I would never leave one to fend for itself during an emergency.PETA does good things.

  • Nadine says:

    I would never ever leave one of my pets, i got 2 horses, 1 dog, 3 cats. I´d rather ride a 100 miles and take my loved ones with me than take care of any material things!!!!

  • molly samuels says:

    My husband just brought in a Hurricane stray 🙁 He has a rabies tag. Wasn’t real wet – must have just escaped??? Hampton Animal Control is unavailable – said call tomorrow. I called the emergency vet – they said call the vet that issued the tag – Monday. Can anyone match this poor pup’s tag to his mommy 🙁

  • Emily says:

    Thank you PETA for this great information! I’ll make sure to share it with my co-workers and everybody I know. I would not leave never without my dogs, I know God will take care of us.

  • Angela says:

    There is no way I would leave without my animals!They are a part of my family.

  • Mary says:

    I would not leave my pets behind, and my dog is my best friend, and my cat and rabbit are too precious

  • Nancy says:

    The only thing I can say is, Authorities are stupid!
    And that I would not leave my pets (9 cats, 5 dogs, ginne pig, 5 chickens) not for anything in the world, they mean the world to me, and I’d rather stay and protect them, or die trying.

  • jessica says:

    Does anyone have any tips about what to do with a dog that absolutely refuses to pee indoors during a hurricane? My neighbors and I are “walking” our dogs in the basement of our building during the hurricane because it’s not safe to go outside with flying debris and all that (and don’t worry we put wee wee pads down all over the basement floor). My dog is the only one who refuses to go inside and its been hours! We tried encouraging her (she knows “go pee pee”) and she saw all the other dogs do it and not get in trouble for it. I don’t know what to do.

  • Barbara says:

    Jeff, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I would NEVER leave my cat behind. I would also hit the road together with my cat and sleep on the streets if I had to just to be with her. Thank you PETA for all you do!

  • Maria says:

    I prepare for my animals.. Ihave four dogs and one cat.. I keep them close to me.. with window closed.. I don’t want anything happen to them…

  • Scott Finch says:

    The “authorities” would have knock me unconscious & drag me away before I would leave my four legged children.

  • maria rosmini says:

    There is no such “authority” that can force me to go without my furry children unless they kill me first, in which case there would be no need to force me to go anywhere!

  • Margarita says:

    I have two cats and if anything were to happen if I cannot take my cats I will gladly die with them If they don’t go I DON’T GO and that’s final. Because I will not be able to live with myself if something were to happen to them. I wound NEVER, EVER LEAVE THEM BEHIND. They are like my children and I will stay with them till the end.

  • Debbie says:

    There is no way in hell that anyone could make me leave my 4 precious dogs alone while I go to a shelter. Thats not even an option! They should open seperate shelters for people with animals. I also have birds and fish. I live in NY and I have been thinking about my fish. How do you leave when you have fish that you cannot take? I know they have vacation feeders. Maybe shelters for animals should be a good project for PETA.

    Im also concerned about pet stores. No one will be working during the hurricane and I have a petland near me, actually I have a few petstores, one holding puppies and kittens. How does a person like me ensure their safety? Im worried sick about them being locked up alone.

  • Pete says:

    I rescue feral cats and have 3 in my house that are unapproachable. i would NEVER take my other pets and leave them behind. Police couldn’t make me if they tried. several years ago a wildfire came within a block and a half but i would not leave. will not leave today during Irene and, except for a falling tree, believe my pets and I will be okay.

  • Eileen says:

    I would never leave my cats or turtle behind. I have 3 cats and I have some strays and they are all loved and cared for. I’m ready to take everyone of them with me if it comes to that, and they all know where the cat door is so they can all come in and be safe. Any place that does not welcome pets is not a place for me. I’ll just drive west.

  • Lily S. says:

    I think we should be allowed to take pets to emergancy shelters, I love my dog as if she was family and I couldnt leave her behind.

  • Pat says:

    In these situations I always worry about what happens to all the feral cats and dogs that usually do not trust anyone to even help them get to safety.

  • Elgrit B. Russell says:

    My animals mean everything in the world to me and always come first. I have no family except them and I will fight to the death to protect them and keep them safe. If they are in danger of dying, I will stay with them until the end for all of us.

  • Elgrit B. Russell says:

    My animals mean everything in the world to me and always come first. I have no family except them and I will fight to the death to protect them and keep them safe. If they are in danger of dying, I will stay with them until the end for all of us.