Pet Preparation

Don’t forget about me!

Natural disasters can put pets in jeopardy and separate them from their human families. Here are some tips on how to plan ahead to keep your pets safe in case of an emergency.

Follow this basic safety rule: If you are told to evacuate, leave immediately, and take your animals. If it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for them.

Plan ahead

  • Keep a collar, current license, and up-to-date ID tags on your pet at all times, and make sure your pet is micro-chipped.
  • Make sure your pet is comfortable being in a crate, box, cage, or carrier for transport.
  • Keep an updated list of neighbors who could assist your animals in case of an emergency. Make sure they have a key to your house, are comfortable with your pets, and know their habits. Tell them where you will leave a go-bag/disaster kit.
  • Tighten and secure latches on birdcages. Fasten down aquariums on low tables.

Disaster supply checklist

Make a go-bag for each pet. Include:

  • Sturdy leashes and pet carriers (a pillowcase is a good option for transporting cats and other small animals); muzzles for dogs; food, potable water, and medicine for at least one week.
  • Nonspill bowls, manual can opener and plastic lid.
  • Plastic bags, litter box, and litter.
  • Recent photo of each pet.
  • Names and numbers of your emergency contacts, vets, and animal shelters.
  • Copy of medical and vaccination history.
  • Portable fencing, toys, and bedding.


Animals react differently under stress. Keep dogs leashed and transport cats in carriers or pillowcases. If your pet is lost, report it to the nearest animal shelter. When it is safe to do so, return to your neighborhood to search and distribute “Lost Pet” posters.

Evacuate: Find yourself a safe place ahead of time

Locate all your animals and keep them with you. Be aware that shelters will only allow service animals. In a large-scale disaster, animal shelters will be set up when possible. San Francisco Animal Care and Control’s (ACC) facility at 15th and Harrison will be an animal sheltering resource.

If you must leave your pets behind:

  • Inform animal rescue workers of your pets’ status: On your front door or in a highly visible window, write the number and types of pets in your residence. Include their location in your home and the date that you evacuated.
  • Leave plenty of water in a large, open container that cannot be tipped over.
  • Leave plenty of food in timed feeders.
  • Do not tie up your pet in your home.

For more information, check for pets and humans, too; or call 311; and, the San Francisco Disaster Preparedness Coalition for Animals.

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Donna Canali is a member of Pet Emergency Team, a project of the Friends of San Francisco Animal Care and Control.