National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day

Caring for Animals

If you have been reading these pages for any length of time you know that I have the honor of serving as Chaplain for a local fire department.  I also work with that fire department in the area of disaster planning and serve the town as the animal inspector.  All three of those seem to be coming together on this day when FEMA is paying attention to caring for animals in disaster situations.

Disaster preparedness folks will tell you that you need a plan for your family.  The most recent study says you need to have enough supplies to shelter in place, for up to four days.  That suggests that you will need to care for yourself in your home, for up to four days without help from the outside world.

A family plan should be devised and all members of the family should be aware of what that plan is.  Make sure you have enough food, which does not need appliances to cook.  Also, make sure you have a manual can opener; I have fallen to this one before.

But what about animals?

If you do have to evacuate your home, many shelters will not allow animals and most hotels will not allow them either.  Leaving them in your car should not be an option.  Plan for what will happen to your animals if you have to leave your home.  Maybe you need to make arrangements with family our friends outside of the area or try to locate a pet friendly shelter.  Some communities have plans in place for this so check with your local emergency management folks.

Here are just a few suggestions from the good folks at


I would hope you have a family emergency kit, if you don’t tis would be a good time to put one together, and you should also have one for your pet.  Make sure you have food, enough for up to four days along with water.  Ensure you have your animals medications and their medical records.  If you have to evacuate you may have to see a Vet that is not yours so having your animals medical records will help.  Put together a first aid kit for your animals.  There should be one for your family as well.  Make sure the collar, tags, leash etc are taken with you.  If you have a crate bring that as well.  The shelter might take you and your animals if they are in a crate.  Take a recent photo of you and your pet in case you get separated and you need to find them.  Your animals will be under stress so bring along familiar toys and other things that they will find comfort in.

Make a plan and stay informed of conditions and listen to government officials, if they tell you to evacuate, evacuate!

Our animals rely on us to care for them in good times and in bad.  Take a few moments today to make a plan to care for your animals in an emergency.  They need you!


  1. Father, thank you for this excellent advice. However, as a resident of South Mississippi who was impacted by Katrina, please let me add this suggestion: four days’ worth of supplies is better than none, but just barely. People need several weeks’ worth, especially of water. And if you can take care of yourself, you have freed resources and manpower to needed help others.
    PS Two can openers, not one. Things break.

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