Veterinary Public Health Program
313 N Figueroa St. Rm 1127
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel (213) 989-7060
Fax (213) 481-2375
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Information for Pet Owners During Disasters
Plan for Animal Needs Before a Disaster
If you evacuate your home, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND!
Pets may not survive on their own.
Prepare to Shelter Your Pet
- Identify Shelter. For public health reasons, many emergency shelters cannot accept pets.
During disasters, animal control agencies often provide
emergency animal sheltering services. Learn the
name, address, and telephone number of your local animal
control agency in advance. Find out which motels and hotels in the area you plan to evacuate to allow pets -- well in advance of needing them. There are also a number of guides that list hotels/motels that permit pets and could serve as a starting point. Include your local animal shelter's number in your list of emergency numbers -- they might be able to provide information concerning pets during a disaster.
- Animal Supplies. Take pet food, bottled water, medications, veterinary records, cat litter/pan, can opener, food dishes, first aid kit and other supplies with you in case they're not available later. Consider packing a "pet survival" kit which could be easily deployed if disaster hits.
- Animal Identification. Make sure identification tags are up to date and securely fastened to your pet's collar. If possible, attach the address and/or phone number of your evacuation site. If your pet gets lost, his tag is his ticket home. Make sure you have a current photo of your pet for identification purposes.
- Animal Transportation and Restraint. Make sure you have a secure pet carrier, leash or harness for your pet, so if he panics, he can't escape.
Horse owners should identify in advance how they will
trailer their horses to safety in an emergency.
Learn More. Videos on
Animals in Emergencies for Owners
developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency help pet and livestock owners prepare to protect their animals during emergencies.
During a Disaster
- Call your local emergency management office, animal shelter, or animal control office to get advice and information.
- If you are unable to return to your home right away, you may need to board your pet. Find out where pet boarding facilities are located. Be sure to research some outside your local area in case local facilities close.
- Most boarding kennels, veterinarians and animal shelters will need your pet's medical records to make sure all vaccinations are current. Include copies in your "pet survival" kit along with a photo of your pet.
- NOTE: Some animal shelters will provide temporary foster care for owned pets in times of disaster, but this should be considered only as a last resort.
- 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 at home alone can place your animal in great danger! Confine your pet to a safe area inside -- NEVER leave your pet chained outside! Leave them loose inside your home with food and plenty of water. Remove the toilet tank lid, raise the seat and brace the bathroom door open so they can drink. Place notices outside, in a visible area, advising what pets are in the house and where they are located. Provide a phone number where you, or a contact, can be reached, as well as the name and number of your vet.
After a Disaster
- Bring your pets inside immediately.
- Have newspapers on hand for sanitary purposes. Feed the animals moist or canned food so they will need less water to drink.
- Animals have instincts about severe weather changes and will often isolate themselves if they are afraid. Bringing them inside early can stop them from running away. Never leave a pet outside or tied up during a storm.
- Separate dogs and cats. Even if your dogs and cats normally get along, the anxiety of an emergency situation can cause pets to act irrationally. Keep small pets away from cats and dogs.
- In an emergency, you may have to take your birds with you. Talk with your veterinarian or local pet store about special food dispensers that regulate the amount of food a bird is given. Make sure that the bird is caged and the cage is covered by a thin cloth or sheet to provide security and filtered light.
- If after a disaster you have to leave town, take your pets with you. Pets are unlikely to survive on their own.
- In the first few days after the disaster, leash your pets when they go outside. Always maintain close contact. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and your pet may become confused and lost. Also, snakes and other dangerous animals may be brought into the area with flood areas. Downed power lines are a hazard.
- The behavior of your pets may change after an emergency. Normally quiet and friendly pets may become aggressive or defensive. Watch animals closely. Leash dogs and place them in a fenced yard with access to shelter and water.
Click here for printable flyer
Click Here for Disaster Planning for Livestock
Click here for information on how to organize your family for a disaster.
The Chief Executive Officer's Office of Emergency
Management (OEM) is charged with the responsibility to
organize and direct preparedness efforts for Los Angeles
County. OEM's area of responsibility includes county
government, all cities (88), school districts (94) and
special districts (over 100) within county borders. For
more information on the County of Los Angeles Office of
Emergency Management please visit their website at
In cooperation with our partners, the County of Los
Angeles has assembled a collection of tips and guides
aimed at emergency preparedness. The Emergency Survival
Program (ESP) is an awareness campaign designed to
increase emergency preparedness at home, in the
community, at work and at school. To access ESP
materials please visit their website at