Preparing Pets for Emergencies

WHAT TO DO NOW—Get a kit

  • IDENTIFICATION – Your pet should always wear identification, but it is especially important during disasters.  Check tags and make sure the information is current.   Does your veterinarian have your current phone number and address?   Now is a good time to microchip your pet.
  • EQUIPMENT – A sturdy leash, harness and muzzle for larger dogs and a well-ventilated, plastic carrier for small dogs and cats. Don’t forget a carrier for your bird or hamster.  Is the carrier in good repair? Make sure all items have your name and emergency phone number written on them in permanent ink.
  • SUPPLIES – Food/water bowls, cat litter, litter box (that fits into the carrier) and a three-day supply of pet food and water.  Towels, blanket, newspapers, trash bags and sanitizer will also come in handy. Bring along a few toys or comfort items to relieve boredom.  Have a first-aid kit with your pets’ medications ready.
  • INFORMATION – Make copies of medical and vaccination records and current photographs of you and your pets—these items are especially important if your pet will be staying in a shelter or boarding facility.  Include contact information for your veterinarian, and the name and phone number of a relative or alternate care-taker in case you are injured and unable to care for your pets.  Add an emergency phone  number of someone who does not live in your area.  Remember, if you’re affected by the disaster, other local people may be affected too.

WHAT TO DO NOW—Make a Plan

Pre-planning is the key!

  • Make arrangements with a neighbor or family member in case something happens when you’re not home.  Have a set location to meet when it is safe.  Make sure they have a key to your home and your veterinarians name and phone number.
  • Post a “PETS INSIDE” sign with emergency contact information on doors.
  • Figure out where your pets could stay if you had to evacuate, with friends or family, a pet friendly hotel, a kennel, veterinary hospital or an emergency shelter.  Remember, many human shelters don’t take pets.
  • Teach your dog to walk quietly on a leash.  Reinforce the training frequently.
  • Cats should be familiar with their carriers.
  • Practice ‘fire drills’ at home .

WHAT TO DO NOW—Be Informed

Learn what disasters we should prepare for in San Luis Obispo County at


  • Check all your supplies and put them in one central location.  If you need to leave quickly you don’t want to be searching for supplies.
  • Bring your pets indoors and confine them in a small, comfortable area where you can reach them easily.
  • Check your evacuation route and confirm your shelter arrangements. Make your accommodation plans far in advance and have your route and places to stay arranged.


  • Take all your pets
  • Make sure pets are safely contained
  • All pets must wear identification
  • Take your emergency supplies—including water
  • Allow plenty of time if you have to trailer livestock and horses out of evacuation zones.


  • Keep your pets indoors—preferably in their carriers and on leashes.
  • Keep them in an interior, safe room—away from windows.
  • Make sure they wear current identification!


  • Keep your pets safely confined. 
  • Check your home and fence for damage. Loose fences may not properly confine a frightened, disoriented pet.  Damaged windows could injure or allow escape. 


Remember, disruption of regular routines is stressful on pets as well as people. You may notice behavioral changes, loss of appetite, or other signs of stress.  If problems persist or become worrisome, contact your veterinarian.

Adapted from material created by Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services, Houston, Texas.

The information above is available in a brochure that you can download. 

Need more ideas about how help to prepare for the unexpected?   Here are some places you can look for some pointers. has a great page on pets and preparedness.  You might also want to take a look at a website called Evacuate My Pet.

You can download another helpful checklist in English or Spanish.


In the event of a local large-scale disaster that would require residents to evacuate from their homes, Woods Humane Society, as a lead agency in VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) will work closely with County Animal Services to care for the needs of small animals* in our county.  If necessary, WHS, in collaboration with the American Red Cross, will open a temporary animal evacuation site.  Woods’ staff and volunteers will ensure that each animal is properly identified, and provide care and feeding until it is safe to return home.

*HEET (Horse Emergency Evacuation Team) will take the lead in providing services for large animals.

Microchip Your Pet

Opening Homes and Hearts to Homeless Pets
in San Luis Obispo County since 1955.