Preparing your Animals

If you must evacuate your home, it's always best to take your pets with you. For health and space reasons, pets may not be allowed in public emergency shelters.  If, as a last resort, you have to leave your pets behind, make sure you develop a plan for your pets and livestock before there is a need to use it.  During an emergency, trained guide dogs for the blind, hearing impaired or handicapped will be allowed to stay in emergency shelters with their owners.

Before an Emergency


If necessary, the Village of Skokie will create temporary shelters for mass care and for animal care. However, if the size and type of disaster warrants it, the Red Cross may take over in establishing these shelters. The Red Cross will not accept pets at their emergency shelters, so make a list of "pet-friendly" motels in case you need to temporarily relocate with your pets. As an alternative, ask your veterinarian and/or your local animal shelter if they provide emergency care for pets following disasters. Obtain the numbers to several veterinarians outside your immediate area in the event your own veterinarian's office has to close because of the emergency.

If your pet is on medication or a special diet, find out from your veterinarian what you should do in case you have to leave it alone for several days. Contact a friendly neighbor and make a reciprocal agreement to take charge of each others pets in the event of an emergency when one of you is not home. Exchange cell phone numbers if you both have them, and make sure both of you know the location of your Pet Emergency Kits. Make a list of all the above phone numbers for your Emergency Kit.

Contact motels and hotels in communities outside of your area and find out if they will accept pets in an emergency. Decide on safe locations in your house where you could leave your pet in an emergency.
  • Avoid choosing rooms with hazards such as windows, hanging plants or pictures in large frames
  • Buy a pet carrier that allows your pet to stand up and turn around inside
  • Easy to clean areas such as utility areas or bathrooms and rooms with access to a supply of fresh water
  • If you normally leave your dog on a collar, make sure it's a leather or nylon collar and not a "choker" collar 
  • Make sure your pet has an identification tag with your name, address and phone number
  • Set up two separate locations if you have dogs and cats
  • The location should have access to high counters that pets can escape to.

During an Emergency


Bring your pets inside immediately. Animals have instincts about severe weather changes and will often isolate themselves if they are afraid. Bringing them inside early can stop them from running away. Never leave a pet outside or tied up during a storm. If you evacuate and have to leave your pet at home, prepare a safe location for it.
  • Birds must eat daily to survive. In an emergency, you may have to leave your birds behind. Talk with your veterinarian or local pet store about special food dispensers that regulate the amount of food a bird is given. Make sure that the bird is caged and the cage is covered by a thin cloth or sheet to provide security and filtered light.
  • Keep small pets away from cats and dogs
  • Leave a two or three day supply of dry food, even if it's not the pet's usual food. The food should not be moistened because it could turn rancid or sour. Leave the food in a sturdy container that the pet cannot overturn
  • Leave familiar items such as the pet's normal bedding and favorite toys
  • Leave the water in a sturdy, no-spill container. If possible, open a faucet slightly and let the water drip into a big container. Large dogs may be able to obtain fresh water from a partially filled bathtub
  • Make sure the collar has tags and identification
  • Replace a chain link "choker" collar with a leather or nylon collar.
  • Separate dogs and cats (the anxiety of an emergency situation can cause pets to act irrationally) 

After an Emergency


If after a disaster you have to leave town, take your pets with you. Pets are unlikely to survive on their own. In the first few days after the disaster, leash your pets when they go outside. Always maintain close contact. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and your pet may become confused and lost. Also, snakes and other dangerous animals may be brought into the area with flood areas. Downed power lines are a hazard.

The behavior of your pets may change after an emergency. Normally quiet and friendly pets may become aggressive or defensive. Watch animals closely. Leash dogs and place them in a fenced yard with access to shelter and water.

Further Reading