This page provides information on how disasters affect your pets and what you can do to help them. You can prepare yourself and your pets for disasters by creating a family emergency plan that includes your pet(s). FEMA supports local efforts to search for and rescue pets after a disaster and you may be able to locate your missing pet using supported resources.
Prior to a disaster create a family emergency plan that includes your pet(s). It is very important to:
Make sure each pet's tags are up-to-date and fastened to its collar.
Have a current photo of you and your pet(s) for identification purposes.
Make a pet emergency kit.
Identify shelters in advance that will allow your pets.
Have a secure pet carrier, leash, or harness for your pet.
For more tips on how to prepare your kit, Ready.gov has a section with more information: Caring for Animals.
Following a disaster, familiar scents and landmarks may be altered. Pets may become confused and lost, so it is critical to maintain close contact with and leash pets when they go outside. Also, snakes and other potentially dangerous animals displaced by the disaster may have migrated into the area (especially after flooding). In addition, downed power lines can also be a hazard for people and their pets. Be aware of your surroundings and protect your pet(s) and yourself.
Similar to children and adults, disaster-related stress may change a pet’s behavior. Normally quiet and friendly pets may become aggressive or defensive. Watch your animals closely, and be cautious around other animals – even pets you know. If you evacuate, take your pets with you!
Contact local emergency management for information regarding availability of emergency shelters for pets. However, if you have no alternative but to leave your pet at home, there are some precautions you must take, but remember that leaving your pet(s) at home alone can place your animal(s) in great danger! Confine your pet(s) to a safe area inside -NEVER leave your pet(s) chained outside! Leave them loose inside your home with food and plenty of water.
Locate a Missing Pet
Pets displaced by a disaster are frequently kept in shelters and by organizations in the State where the disaster occurred. Contact your local humane society, animal welfare organization, County or State Animal Response Team to locate the shelters or organizations near you. Additionally, a member of the National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition (NARSC) may be able to assist in locating the appropriate local response organization.
The search and rescue of pets lost during disasters is undertaken in a coordinated effort between State and local government and local animal response groups with support from FEMA and a range of national animal welfare organizations (such as NARSC, the Humane Society of the United States [HSUS], and Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams [VMATS]). If you are trying to locate pets lost as a result of a disaster, contact your local or State emergency management agency.