Do you have a plan for your pets in case of an earthquake, flood or fire? In the event of an emergency, a well-practiced disaster program will not only reduce stress, but will also save precious time–and possibly lives. San Francisco Animal Care & Control is mandated to deliver effective, courteous, and responsive animal care services to the residents of San Francisco.
Plan for Emergencies
Here are some tips on how to plan ahead to keep your pets safe in case of an emergency.
1. Identify Your Pet
The single most important thing in disaster planning is making sure your pet is identified properly.
- A collar with an ID tag that has your phone number on it is an immediate form of ID, but collars can come off (especially with cats) or be taken off.
- A microchip is a permanent form of identification. It is easily scanned by any shelter or veterinarian and your information, your vet’s information, and your emergency contacts can be linked to it. The pet owner must keep the information current, so remember to update contact information with the microchip registration service regularly. ACC holds several low-cost microchip clinics [link to rabies/microchip clinic page] every year.
2. Train Your Pet
Get your pet used to being in a crate or carrier. In an evacuation or shelter situation, your pet may need to be contained. Many dogs are already crate-trained, but most cats dread going into their carriers. Try feeding the pet in the crate or putting their favorite toy or treat in the crate. With cats, try putting catnip in the crate. If you leave the crate out in the home and treat it like a regular piece of furniture, your pet will get used to it. Make sure that your pet is used to being handled, which makes it easier to put him or her in a carrier and for transportation if needed.
3. Prepare a Disaster Kit
Store a disaster kit for your pet with your own and keep it in a safe, accessible place. Include these items at a minimum:
- Bottled water for 7 days for each animal and bowls.
- Your pet’s regular food (at least a 7-day supply for each animal).
- Portable carrier or crate.
- A copy of your pet’s vaccine history and medical records for chronic conditions.
- Your pet’s medication and a copy of the prescription.
- Recent photos of your pet (especially with you in the picture).
- Litter boxes and litter.
- Fresh bedding for small animals.
- A leash and collar (dogs) or harness (cats); extra ID tags.
- Plastic bags for litter disposal/dog cleanup.
- A manual can opener and plastic lid for canned food.
- Phone numbers and locations of your vet, the local emergency clinic, and S.F. Animal Care and Control (415) 554-6364.
- Phone numbers for your emergency contacts, relatives, and friends.
- Extra blankets, paper towels.
- Any long-term caging you might need (baby gates, ex-pens, portable fencing).
- A pet first aid kit with large and small bandages, scissors, tweezers, Q-tips, antibiotic ointment, hydrogen peroxide, elastic tape, eyewash, ear cleaning solutions, and K-Y jelly.
- A supply of cash to pay for emergency boarding.
- If you have room, include chew toys, special treats, blankets, bedding, and other items that your pet loves. If your pet can play or stay with something familiar, she or he could feel more relaxed during an emergency.
The first rule of evacuation is to take your pet with you! Let disaster workers know that you have animals with you and what species they are.
- Never leave a caged pet alone in an evacuated home; the pet has a better chance of surviving if they are free to move around your home.
- If you are being moved to a human shelter that has an auxiliary animal shelter in place, you can request that your pet be housed at that adjacent shelter. Otherwise, all evacuated animals in San Francisco, including exotic animals and small mammals, as well as aggressive dogs and cats, will be housed at SFACC no matter where the owner is sheltered.
- Red Cross shelters do not accept pets. The best place for your pet is with a relative or friend who lives in an unaffected area. This is much less stressful for both you and your pet. Make arrangements now for this possibility.
- Prepare a list of backup arrangements, such as hotels that allow pets, boarding facilities, veterinarians and/or shelters.