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National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day – Are You Ready?

By Colleen Williams
May 7, 2015 • 3 min. read

Last updated April 23, 20201

Recent natural disasters have revealed the need for emergency preparedness measures, include survival gear and food as well as medical supplies. Over 600,000 animals were killed or stranded in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, according to The Atlantic. In the wake of large natural disasters, the treatment and rescue of animals is typically low priority.

May 8 is National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day – are you ready for whatever comes your way?

U.S. natural disaster preparedness day map
This U.S. map of natural disasters shows which areas are vulnerable. (

Know Your Area’s Natural Disasters

Certain types of natural disasters are endemic to specific regions of the United States. Be aware of the potential dangers in your area and keep up with weather reports during peak season.

The Midwest is the nation’s tornado hot spot, especially the corridor known as Tornado Alley. Texas is the most tornado-prone by far, with 5,490 storms on record; over two times more than the second-highest state, Oklahoma.

Pay attention to natural disaster advisories and bulletins; most states have a notification system in place, with storm warnings broadcast or even texted.

Many dry areas of the United States have been facing increasing frequencies of wildfires, especially during summer. Learn more about wildfire safety for pets.

pet first aid kid disaster preparedness
Keep three to five days of survival food and water per pet. (

Stock Up on Survival Gear

It’s important to make sure that you’re prepared and ready ahead of any potential national disasters. In addition to packing human emergency essentials, create a pet first aid kit as well, including the following supplies:

  • Pet medical thermometer
  • Assorted bandages, gauze rolls and pads
  • Tweezers
  • Antiseptic
  • Pet carrier
  • Towels and blankets
  • Pet food
  • Bottled water
  • Collapsible pet bowls
  • Leash or harness (Even for cats!)
  • Medications
  • Medical, microchip and adoption records, in a Ziploc
  • Numbers for local shelters, vets
  • Current photo of your pet

Extra survival gear that could come in handy are dog booties, a life vest, a cooling vest (for warmer climates), rain jacket or poncho, and winter jacket or sweater. Pack a few toys and treats to distract your pet; natural disasters are stressful for animals and humans like. If your pup has a history of anxiety, consider bringing a Thunder Shirt, which can help nervous pets. As they say, better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it!

It’s also important to store your survival food and pet first aid kit in an airtight, waterproof container in safe place – make sure you have enough food and water for five days per pet! If you have a tornado shelter or basement, keep your bin there; if you live in a flood-prone area, store it in a high place.

Practice Makes Perfect

pet first aid kit disaster preparedness
Practice packing survival supplies and locating emergency shelters near you. During a natural disaster, tensions will be running high. (

In an emergency situation or natural disaster, stress and emotions run high. Know where to go if an evacuation order is given and what to pack; use this tool to find your nearest Red Cross emergency shelter. “If you evacuate your home, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND!” says FEMA. “Pets most likely cannot survive on their own and if by some remote chance they do, you may not be able to find them when you return.”

Some emergency shelters will not accept animals for health and safety reasons, so have a backup emergency plan for pets. Have contact information on hand for local animal shelters, who will often care for pets during natural disasters.

The Washington Post reported the following: “[FEMA emphasizes] it is not the case that emergency shelters and hotels are required to accommodate pets. As [Washington Post’s Animalia articles] have explained in several articles, the Americans with Disabilities Act only requires such facilities to allow service animals, which are almost always dogs.” Remember that service animals are allowed in shelters. “These animals, it notes “are not pets,” but are trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities.” Furthermore, “many hotels and evacuation centers are accepting pets during the storm — a policy that has become increasingly common since Hurricane Katrina, when many storm victims stayed put rather than abandon their animals. There’s no centralized list for such places, unfortunately, so FEMA advises that people in the affected areas check local media or call facilities to ask about pet policies. This article, for example, lists pet-friendly shelters in North Carolina.”

Natural Disasters Pet Parent Checklist

Be prepared as a pet parent with our handy checklist.

Pet disaster preparedness checklist infographic
colleen williams
By Colleen Williams

Over the past decade, Colleen has written about health, wellness, beauty, and even pets for The New York Times, The Cut, Refinery29, xoVain, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, and Seattle Met Magazine, as well as many beauty brands. She has a BFA in Art History from the University of New Mexico and an AAS in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design in New York.

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