Are your pets ready to evacuate in an emergency?

In the US, Hurricane season along the Atlantic seaboard starts on June 1 and lasts all the way through November.  Disaster Emergency Preparedness, and having a family Disaster Plan that includes pets is extremely important.  Disaster can strike at a moment's notice.  Being unprepared for an emergency can be disastrous for a family, especially their pets.

In the last couple of years we've been impacted by so many storms and hurricanes I can hardly remember all their names and in which months they slammed in!  

Disaster Preparedness Planning should include your pets
Phoebe hates being out in bad weather.  I should have put a jacket or sweater on her!

There's one storm I will never forget, and that's Super Storm Sandy which hit Long Island on October 29th, 2012.  The storm killed 106 people in the Eastern US.  Sandy really kicked butt here in the New York/New Jersey area.  New Jersey and several neighboring states had to declare a State of Emergency following Hurricane Sandy.  The damage caused by that storm was enormous. Since then, people in the area are more aware of storms and pay a lot more attention to the warnings.

Be prepared for storms and other natural disasters by having an Emergency Go bag ready at all times
A storm left lots of debris on our driveway and damaged a neighboring car

Disaster can strike with very little notice and it can create panic.  I live just 5 minutes from the water so I'm acutely aware of storms and potential flooding situations in my neighborhood.   I keep plenty of bottled water, canned food, flashlights, a transistor radio, and candles in case of a power outage.  I've gathered supplies together to ensure I have emergency supplies for both us and the dogs in the event we need to evacuate.  We've never had to before, but you just never know. It's smart to be prepared for anything, storms can be so unpredictable.  

Here's my plan in the event of an emergency or disaster in the area:

If we need to evacuate the immediate area for any reason, we'll head North and West.  Previously, my plan was to head West to my mom's house 30 miles away in Western Long Island. However, she passed away in 2016 and I've had to change the plan.  If her town were to be evacuated as well, my plan had been to head North and West to Pennsylvania. However, Pennsylvania has had some horrific weather in the last year or two so we've changed that plan as well.  It's so important to review and update your plan and be flexible in making changes.  Track the path of the storm to find your best escape route.

I know my town's evacuation route and the safest emergency routes.  My town has a web site with emergency preparedness and evacuation tips, yours probably does as well - are you familiar with it?  If not take a few moments to search online for it and become familiar.

An emergency or disaster can strike quickly! Disaster planning, for your family should include pets.  Disaster Preparedness Planning, Emergency Preparedness, Pets, Dogs,
Don't leave your pets behind if you need to evacuate unless it's absolutely necessary.  They may not be safe there, and you don't know when you'll be able to return.
I'll have my dogs with me of course, I will NEVER leave them behind no matter what.  In the event I have to stop for the night somewhere with them I have located several dog friendly hotels within a 50+ mile radius.  I have a few sites I can use as a resource to locate pet friendly lodgings such as Bring Fido and Go Pet Friendly.  I'll keep the AAA Pet Book handy with me as well, in case cell phone service goes out and I need to find accommodations. 

Many people have stickers on their windows telling rescue workers that there are pets inside so they can look for them.  However, whenever possible you should take your pets with you if you evacuate.  If you've taken pets with you and you have one of these stickers, use a black magic marker to write "Evacuated" over the pet's information on the sticker.  That way rescuers won't waste valuable time searching for pets that are no longer in the home.

These are the supplies I have ready for my two dogs if we ever need to evacuate:

My disaster emergency bag with items for my dogs in case of evacuation
In my dogs evacuation bag:Tap & bottled water, dry food and food rolls, bowls,first aid kit, towels & wipes, medical records, collars/harnesses, toys & chews

In a canvas shoulder bag I pack:

** Large jug of tap water plus several days worth of bottled water.  Portable dog water bowl.

** Dry dog food for 2 days and 2 food bowls.

**Canned food for 3 days plus food rolls, which are lightweight and easy to travel with. I like Natural Balance food rolls best and so do my dogs.  They're sealed in water tight plastic which is so helpful especially if there's flooding.

**I normally leave copies of my dogs' rabies vaccination certificate and other vaccination documentation from my Veterinarian in the car.  I'll pack the envelope in a plastic bag to stay dry and place it in the emergency bag.

** First Aid kit with hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic ointment, bandages & bandage wrap, gauze pads, scissors, nail clippers, cotton balls & Q- tips.

** Pet wipes, a tall kitchen trash bag and zip lock bags.  I love zip lock bags, I use them for everything!  Doggie waste bags and a towel.  We also keep a towel and blanket in the car.

** 1 or 2 toys and chew sticks to help keep the dogs calm and occupied.  An evacuation can be very scary for them!

**Leashes, harnesses, and collars.  I'll use a harness for both of them, a frightened pet will often try to wriggle out of a collar and run from whatever is scaring them.

As time goes on if you don't use the emergency bag supplies, you can switch out food and medical supplies that have passed the expiration dates. It's never a waste to have a bag ready! You can always swap items in and out.

Icy and Phoebe are Ready to go at a moment's notice!
For more about why it's so important to include pets in emergency and disaster preparedness planning, see my earlier post on How Will Your Pet React In An Emergency?

On the West coast, people routinely have to deal with deadly wildfires in California and Washington.  These tragic and widespread fires impact many pets.  So many pets have been lost, injured, or killed during the chaos of wildfires.  If you live in an area that has wildfires, be sure to have an emergency go bag for your family, including your pets.

PLEASE, if your dog or cat isn't microchipped, get them chipped as soon as you are able.  As an animal shelter volunteer, I'm begging you to do that for your pets.  Being chipped is probably the one thing that can reunite you with your pet above all else.  It's quick and easy, just like getting a vaccination.  Many shelters offer discounts throughout the year for as little as $10!  Do you love your pet 10 bucks worth?

Have you ever had to evacuate your home due to an emergency?  What did you do to prepare?  Please share in the comments!


Unknown said...

Important information for sure. Thank you :) It is sweater weather here too!!

M. K. Clinton said...

I am praying that Joaquin will stay offshore, but I'm glad that you are prepared just in case. It is always scary when you have to sit and wait for a storm to pass. Stay safe ♥

Unknown said...

Interesting post, guys. Thank you.

Robin said...

I'm so glad to hear that you are well prepared in case this storm gets really ugly. I'm praying for everyone affected by the hurricane. It is amazing how powerful this storm is! We are even getting affected here in Detroit (though nothing big). Please do your best to stay safe.
-Purrs from your friends at

Unknown said...

Very informative post! I hope everyone stays safe with the recent storms!!!!!!
ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

Jackie Bouchard said...

You're so good to be prepared! I think since you get warnings on the east coast of storms coming your basic direction, maybe it makes it more compelling to get the evacuation supplies together! Here where we live, the only thing we really have to worry about is an earthquake. And of course there'll be no warning ahead of time for that. I just hope when the Big One hits that we'll all be together. My worst fear is that the hubs will be at work and Rita and I will be here at home and he won't be able to get to us if the roads are a mess. Thanks for the good info. (And, yes, Rita is chipped!) Hope you have stayed safe! Looks on the news like the Carolinas are getting hit the worst!

Lapdog Creations said...

It's something everyone needs to think about - no matter where you live. I admit, I need to prepare kits!

Lessons From A Paralyzed Dog said...

Sadly we are not ready for an emergency and it's something I worry about. Thanks for your tips. I need to put together a plan.

Zumba Sisters said...

I have a small kit but I need to expand upon it. Thanks for the reminder.

Tenacious Little Terrier said...

The big disaster we have to worry about here is earthquakes and we won't have much warning so.... Mr. N is microchipped and he's coming with us when we have to evacuate!

Anonymous said...

Great tips Cathy, and yes my dog is microchipped. My concern is always how the pets will react should we have to evacuate, we live in Florida year round and 6 months of that as you know is hurricane season. I never thought about it till now because we have lived at the same address for 16 years now, but remember to update your microchip info if you should move. I don't know how our seasonal residents handle this. You may know how this is dealt with being that you live in 2 different areas. Do you list both addresses with the microchip website?

Beth said...

You are very well prepared! I hope you never need to use it, but it must give you a big sense of relief to have a good plan!

theOKdogblog said...

Just had a dream the other day about a tornado emergency. I have gotta get our kit together!

theOKdogblog said...

Just had a dream the other day about a tornado emergency. I have gotta get our kit together!

Sweet Purrfections said...

Very appropriate blog for me to read as my state, SC, just suffered major flooding. Luckily, I didn't need to evacuate, but I do need to be prepared.

maryehaight said...

We've never had to evacuate, but being ready is half the battle. I learned this while taking care of my mother, who had many pills and oxygen tanks. We lived in the country and there were some very wild storms and flooding though we never got hit. We had three dogs then, so it would have been an undertaking!

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