In Preparing for Disasters, Don't Forget Fido


CHARLESTON, W. Va. -- If you are one of the many West Virginians with a cat, dog, other pet or service animal, now is a good time to start planning for what to do with your furry or feathered friend in the event of a future disaster.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has worked with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the American Kennel Club, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Humane Society of the United States to develop these pet-preparedness guidelines.

Have a pet-supply kit ready, including:

  • Pet food for three days in an airtight, waterproof container and bowls;
  • Water for three days;
  • Pet medicines and first aid supplies;
  • Collar (with ID tags firmly secured), harness or sturdy leash;
  • Important documents such as registration, adoption papers, vaccination and medical records in a plastic bag or waterproof container;
  • Travel crate or other pet carrier;
  • Cat litter, litter box, paper towels, newspapers, plastic trash bags and cleaning supplies;
  • Photos of you and your pet together for identification purposes; and
  • Familiar items such as toys, treats and blankets.

The single most important thing you can do to protect your pets is to take them with you if you must evacuate. Animals left behind in a disaster can easily be lost or injured. If evacuation is necessary, consider friends or family outside the area who can take in you and your pet.

Other options may include a pet-friendly hotel or motel. If your only evacuation option is a Red Cross or other publicly run shelter, be aware that not all shelters are equipped or designed to accept non-service animals. Consider boarding your animals at a kennel or veterinary hospital before going to a public shelter.

Plan with neighbors, friends or relatives to evacuate your pet for you if you are unable to do so yourself. Talk with them about your evacuation plans and pet supply kit.

Consult your veterinarian and consider “microchipping” your pet. These permanent implants may be invaluable if you and your pets are separated.

After the disaster, don't allow your pets to roam loose. Familiar landmarks and smells may have been changed by the disaster and your pet could become disoriented or lost.

For information on pet-friendly accommodations in your area and disaster planning, visit

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.