During an evacuation, the likelihood that you become separated from your pet increases. To reduce stress and confusion, establish an evacuation plan for your pets well before a natural disaster. Don’t ever leave your pet behind—if it’s dangerous for you, it’s dangerous for your pet.
But even with preparation, some pet owners have to leave their pets behind. Others have to board their pets in a separate facility or leave them with family or friends.
Prepare before the evacuation
Before the evacuation, make sure your pet has identification in the form of tags, collars, and a microchip. You can include your own name and phone number on the ID, as well as the name of a friend or relative outside of the hazard area.
Stay well-informed about pet-friendly shelters, boarding facilities, and pet-friendly hotels along your evacuation route. Call these places ahead of time to confirm that they have space for your pet. You can also ask any questions about protocol. Ask out-of-town family or friends for a place to stay with your pet in case of an emergency.
How to find your pet if you become separated
Following Hurricane Katrina, rescue groups and organizers became far more prepared to reunite pets with their owners. Before Hurricane Harvey, several Texas animal shelters transported adoptable pets outside of the hurricane zone to make room for displaced pets. If you are required to leave your pet at one of these shelters, many have identification systems in place to reunite families with their pets as soon as possible.
Keep a photo of your pet and any important paperwork on hand in case you do become separated. If your pet is lost, you can post their photo and a description of your pet on social media. Look for disaster-specific lost and found pet databases and Facebook pages to share your information and keep an eye out for your own pet. You can also check resources like Finding Rover, PetHarbor, and local shelter websites for postings. You may also need to visit shelters or local veterinary practices in person following the disaster. Many pets end up with shelters or rescue organizations but it can take time for your pet to be picked up.
If you were forced to leave your pet at home, it may take some time before you are able to return home to look for them. Your pet may be frightened, confused, or injured. Check with any neighbors upon your return to see if they have been sheltering your pet. Finally, take your time searching your property before expanding your search.
You can always call local emergency experts, your veterinarian, or animal shelter for advice specific to your area.
For more information on planning for disasters with your pet, visit Ready.gov.