Disaster Planning For Pet Owners-Be Prepared

I read a very interesting book recently, written by Terri Crisp and Samantha Glen, titled OUT OF HARM'S WAY. The book details the true experiences of Terri Crisp during numerous natural and man-made disasters such as the Exxon-Valdez oil spill, the California wild fires of 1986 and Hurricane Andrew among others. Even though I found parts of it depressing to read, it was hard to put the book away.

Terri makes it very clear that many animals have died and suffered during disasters because there hasn't been an agency available to assist in rescuing, feeding, treating or housing animals. Red Cross shelters exist for displaced people, but they are not allowed to accept animals into their shelters due to health regulations, as people may be allergic or afraid of animals, plus animals are not allowed in food service areas such as shelters. True, there are many local humane society's throughout Canada and he United States, but they do not have the manpower, equipment or facilities to assist during disasters, and often they must continue on with their regular duties despite being right next door to a disaster area. Many urban areas have disaster plans in place to deal with the people displaced, but most do not have plans for dealing with the animals, whether they be family pets, or livestock.

At the back of her book, Terri included an appendix which lists the basic requirements for disaster kits for cat, dog, horse, bird and other livestock owners. I have printed some of that information here so you may set up your own disaster kit. For more details, and an interesting read, I would suggest that you purchase the book which is available in paperback.


Store supplies in a water-proof plastic container with a tight fitting lid, label the outside with "Disaster Kit for Dog". In the kit include:


One week supply of the usual brand (dry or canned or both if that is what your dog eats, include a plastic lid for the canned food, a spoon and a can opener.) Rotate the food regularly to prevent it from going bad.


Enough to last one week or more. Rotate regularly so it doesn't go bad. Store water in a cool, dark or shaded area to prevent bacteria growth. Water dish, and a small container of bleach for purifying water. Sealable container for pure water.


Pooper scooper and plastic bags to pick up and dispose of dog waste. (I'd skip the pooper scooper and include various sizes of bags.)

Cleaning supplies

Disinfectant for cleaning crates, paper towels, dish soap for washing food and water dishes.


Recent photos of all your animals with extra copies in case you have to post them at animal shelters, pounds etc. Update the photos regularly especially if you have a puppy that is growing. Include yourself in the photo to assist with proof of ownership.


A two week supply of your pet's regular medication, including heart worm pills if used. Rotate regularly so they do not become outdated. Include a muzzle or strip of cloth that can be used to muzzle a frightened or injured animal.

Vaccination records

Keep a duplicate copy of your pet's shots in the kit, in case you have to board the animal at a kennel or other facility. Keep your pet's vaccinations current.


Collar and tag

A proper fitting collar and tag should be on your pet at all times, but keep a spare one in the kit in case it gets lost or breaks. Keep spare tags in the kit so they can be altered if you find it necessary to move from place to place. If your dog is tattooed or microchipped, keep a copy of this information in the kit along with the telephone numbers for the registries.
Have blank lost posters made up and stored in your kit. (Leave the address and phone number area blank until you need to use them.)

Veterinarian information

Write the name, telephone number and address of your regular vet and an alternate vet. Include written authorization/release form for emergency medical treatment, in case you are not available in an emergency.

First Aid Kit

These are available for purchase or your vet can suggest items that should be included in a basic first aid kit. Store these items in a waterproof container.

Grooming supplies

Brush and comb, dry/wet shampoo, flea shampoo, nail clippers and towels. In case your dog comes into contact with something that has to be washed off its skin and coat. Waterless shampoos are better since water might be contaminated or in short supply.


If your dog is used to having them, they can reduce the stress.


To confine your dog during a disaster or in a temporary shelter. You should have one crate/cage for each animal. Accustom your pet to the cage beforehand. A spiral tie out stake and chain would also be useful to allow them a bit more freedom.

Terri goes into much more detail and explains why and how these items are used in her book. I hope that you will take the opportunity to read the book and prepare a kit for your pet(s).