Many people view their pets as members of the family. Recognizing how hard it would be for you to leave these family members in an emergency, Westchester County encourages you to be a responsible pet owner and prepare a survival kit for your pet now in case there is an emergency.

Recent experiences prove that many people will refuse to evacuate if that means leaving their pets behind. Every family emergency plan should include provisions for pets. Planning before an emergency will hopefully allow you to avoid making any heart-breaking decisions regarding your pet.

Create a Pet Emergency Kit

  • Pet first-aid kit
  • Dry or canned food (enough for five days)
  • Feeding dishes
  • Muzzle, leash or harness
  • Water
  • Photos of your pet for identification purposes
  • Blanket and/or a sheet
  • Your pet’s medical records (i.e.; rabies, vaccine, etc.)
  • Medications  in a waterproof container (enough for two weeks)
  • Manual can opener
  • Pet carrier with contact information/feeding and medication schedule
  • Disposable litter and trays and plastic bags for pick-up
  • Flashlight
  • Disposable gloves
  • Minimal grooming supplies (if needed)

Shelters and Safe Havens for Pets: In an evacuation you should arrange for your pets to go to a safe location. Due to health and safety concerns, the American Red Cross presently only accepts service animals in its shelters. If your emergency plan includes your family staying in a hotel, be sure to confirm beforehand that they will accept pets.

Where to find shelter for your pet in an emergency:

  • Your veterinarian or normal boarding facility should be able to provide you with a list of preferred boarding kennels for use in an emergency. Your regular boarding facility may provide shelter and care for animals during disasters and emergencies. 
  • Ask friends and family outside the affected area if they would be willing to take in your pet.
  • There are a number of pet-friendly motels in the area. You can find a list at
  • Keep in mind that a disaster or an evacuation could happen while you are on vacation. Make sure a trusted neighbor or friend can take care of your pet in such a situation.

What to do if you are unable to get an animal to a shelter:

 If you are unable to arrange a safe evacuation for your pet during an emergency, leave your animal behind and post a note, along with preprinted instructions (in a watertight sealable bag or self-sealing container) for someone else to find and feed your pet. This should only be done as a last resort. Posting the note in a conspicuous location will alert emergency personnel or neighbors who might be able to find and care for your animals. In the note, list your pet’s name, description or photo, along with any special needs and where the pet might be located. Don’t forget to leave contact information where you can be reached.

 If you must leave your pet behind, you should also:

  • For your pet’s safety, leave it in a room with a ventilation source, but without windows.
  • Leave behind enough food for at least three days. (Your veterinarian can tell you ahead of time how much food would be appropriate for your pet.)
  • Leave behind enough water for your pet. Place water in containers that cannot easily be knocked over and leave a faucet dripping into a bathtub or sink with an open drain.

Other pet planning suggestions:

  • All of your pets should be properly tagged with IDs. Tags should have your name, telephone number and your pet’s medical information.
  • Vaccinations should be kept up to date.
  • Make sure your dog is licensed.
  • In an emergency, keep your pet in their carrier throughout the event’s duration. Animals may feel more secure in their carriers. Placing a sheet over the carrier may make pets feel safer and calmer.

Information on other animals:

Birds: Transport birds in a secure travel case or carrier. In cold weather, place a blanket over the cage. In warm weather, mist the feathers with a plant mister. If possible, provide birds with some fruits or vegetables with high water content. Prepare photo ID and leg identification for birds. Try to maintain a quiet environment and do not let birds out of their carrier. Consult your veterinarian in advance for more information.

Reptiles: Snakes can remain in a pillowcase temporarily for transportation purposes, but should be placed in more secure housing once they reach an evacuation site. Carry food, a water bowl and heating pad. For lizards, follow the same instructions as for birds. Consult your veterinarian in advance for more information.

Rabbits, Hamsters, and Gerbils: Transport small mammals in secure carriers. Make sure to include the necessary bedding, food and water bottles.

Additional Resources for Pets and Emergencies 

Humane Society of the United States
Find pet-friendly lodging in your area
Saving The Whole Family- The American Veterinary Medical Association 
FEMA: Animals and Emergencies
American Red Cross - Pet Safety
Disaster Preparedness for Animals
: (Virginia Federation of Humane Societies)