Emergency Evacuation Plan for Pets

In these trying times, we have had multiple natural disasters. This has taken a toll on, not only, our nation’s people, but their pets and livestock as well. Just like in every other blog is write, I will say preparedness (Prevention ) is key. I know, you’re saying “But how do we prepare for natural disaster that may never happen in Ohio?” Have an emergency kit for yourself and you pets. Prepare a game plan ahead of time and review with your family often. Though this isn’t a blog about humans, humans play a huge role in the lives of animals. I’m going to discuss my top tips for livestock and domestic animal evacuation.  Natural disasters could strike at any time. Super storms, snow storms (Talking to you Polar Vortex)  tornados, and fires are all of concerns to Ohioans.

  • Travel plans. It is best to prepare for needing to take your pet somewhere in a hurry. Have cat carriers, portable carriers, leashes, halters, and trailers ready to pick up and go at any time. Prepare enough for all of your pets. You are their human, their advocate. You are responsible for their lives, not them. It is not okay to leave your pet behind to fend for themselves. Preparedness will prevent you from having to abandon your pet. Personally, I have 4 cats, two dogs and a rabbit in my home. In order to be evacuation ready, I have two dog kennels, two leash and collar combos, 4 cat carriers, and a cardboard carrier and harness for my bunny. My family owns 4 cars, we should have enough room for our people, important belongings and papers, and all of our fur family.
  • Food rations and water. It is wise to pack enough food and water supply for at least three days for human and animal-kind, alike. You may do this by having ziplock baggies on hand and taking rations from your stock at home, buying a bag to have for emergencies (Monitor the expiration and replace as needed) or having your food supply packed in storage containers already. For water I recommend having a case of water or two on hand to pack. Humans generally needs about 64 ounces of water a day. This should help you gauge how much you need for you and your pet. In event of an emergency, having a pot to boil some water in, a lighter to start a fire, and some coffee filters to filter out large debris, could prove helpful.
    1. For livestock, I would recommend having prefilled barrels of water packed onto your trailer. This can be tricky because livestock drink so much water. You can by corner water storage containers online for trailers.
    2. As a rule of thumb, I would pack at least 1 bale a day per horse or cow. You can buy bale covers online, this way it could be strapped to the top of the trailer or a vehicle.


  • Cats on the go. Cat’s can be tricky. Having a space in your vehicle for a cat to go potty would be essential. Possibly setting up a dog crate and covering it to reduce stress. The more cats can see, the more they are stimulated. I recommend covering their crates and kennels for this reason. The crate isn’t something you have to keep standing but whenever you stop, set it up and allow your pet some potty and stretch time. Litter is pretty portable as is, but if you’re in a pinch, rice, potting soil, mulch, or news paper will work just as well.
  • Plotting out your route to safety ahead of time is beneficial as well. This is most important with livestock. Networking with livestock owners and farms ahead of time. Asking people if they could be a stopping point until it is safe to return home will allow peace of mind your livestock and family can rest safely. Most people will be kind and understanding of this, especially if they are your friend or family member.

Now the part no one wants to talk about. You have not been prepared, or you cannot take you pets or livestock with you. How do you prepare them from safety? How can you ensure the best for them?

  • Firstly, DO NOT confine them somewhere. If a wild fire might hit your house, or flood waters are rising, locking your pet up will provide them with inevitable demise. Let them go. Pull the gates open, let them go out of your house. Animals have instincts and go where they feel is the safest. Allow them a chance to run to safety.
  • Is your pet microchipped? Is the information on it up to date? If you pet ins not chipped, have it done ASAP. You can microchip horses and animals kept as pets. Animals kept for food cannot be chipped (Because no one wants to accidentally bite into a microchip.)
  • Tag them, spray paint them, put breakaway collars and halters on. Make sure your pets are wearing their licenses, and your information. You can have this made for halters as well. For your avian friends, you could put tags on their legs. You can buy these at a feed store or online.
  • Put food and water in a safe spot if you’re able.
  • When you return and the threat is gone. Put food and water out as soon as possible. They may come home once they realize it is safe. Additionally, putting out something that smells like you can entice them to return home.
  • Network, your pet could have been moved states away in some cases. I would say Facebook and your local Craigslist are the best places to start. Call your veterinarian as they may have taken in some of their patients that were found before your return.
  • Driving around your local areas might help. Your pet may be out wondering the streets trying to find their way home.
  • Put up a shelter for them and have extra fencing available in the event you do find them and can have a place to put them. Or, again, using networking to find a temporary foster home until you can recover from losses.
  • If you need help, reach out and ask for it. Even people states away are following these stories, be your own advocate and find ways to reach others through Social Media, Local Media (We all know they’ll be out video taping everything,) or asking family members to post your story.

I hope this gave you some good ideas on how to be prepared for emergencies. Natural disasters are sad and scary. My heart is with those effected by the hurricanes, storms, and fires. If you can, I implore you to donate, or even open your home to those (Humans and animals,) who can reach refuge in Ohio.

Thank you for reading,

                                                Your Friendly Neighborhood Vet Tech

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