Keep Your Pets Safe in an Emergency: 8 Things You Need to Know

By Judy Layne

Emergencies come in many forms – floods, fires and hurricanes to name just a few. This year, severe flooding swept across Eastern Canada with devastating and deadly effects.  In 2016, wildfires in Fort McMurray left a shattering path of destruction in their wake and forced 88,000 families to evacuate their homes.  Think it can’t happen to you?  Think again.

Because disaster can strike with little warning and limited time to prepare, it’s important to think NOW about what you can do to ensure the safety of your pets in the event of an emergency.  Remember that pets are family and depend on us for protection!

Here are 8 important things you can do to keep your pets safe.

  1. Develop a plan.  Plan where you and your pets will stay if you need to evacuate your home. Some disaster centers don’t accept pets, so make plans ahead of time to take your pets to a friend’s/relatives home , pet-friendly hotel, shelter or kennel outside of the evacuation area.
  2. Make a kit. Pets need certain critical supplies during an emergency. The national Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has developed a great checklist to help you ensure you take essential things with you. See the checklist here!
  3. Ensure vaccinations are current.  Most kennels require proof of current rabies and distemper shots.  Keep these papers with other important documents you would carry if you need to evacuate.
  4. Microchip your pets.  In case your pets get lost, this can be the difference between lost pets coming home or not.  Ensure their microchips are registered and your contact information is current.
  5. Buy a carrier for each of your pets.  Include blankets and towels for bedding/warmth and a favorite toy to reduce stress.Write your pet’s name, your name and contact information on each carrier.  Familiarize your pets with their carriers over time.
  6. Practice evacuating with your pets.  Know where your pets might hide when scared or stressed.  Practice removing them from their hiding spot and into their carriers, so you can get them quickly out of harm’s way.
  7. Never leave pets behind.  In severe weather, bring your pets inside immediately.  Never leave pets chained outside during a storm. If you must evacuate, take your pets with you.
  8. Be cautious when you return home.  Familiar scents/landmarks may have changed after an emergency and pets can become confused and lost. It’s important to keep your pets on a leash for a few days when you go outside.  Check your home and yard for downed power lines, sharp objects, spilled chemicals or contaminated water that could harm your pets.

Too many beloved pets have been injured or worse during emergencies.  Don’t wait until it’s too late.  Don’t let your pet become another statistic.


P.S. Don’t forget that with SPCA Pet Health Insurance vet bills for accidents and illnesses are covered up to 80%. Learn more and fetch your free quote today here.


Judy Layne

Judy is a dedicated volunteer with the Nova Scotia SPCA and proud adoptive fur-mama to Gracie. She is committed to speaking for animals who cannot speak for themselves.