Pets in Disasters

In the event of a disaster, if you must evacuate, the best way to protect your pets is to evacuate them, too. Sometimes there is no way to tell how long the evacuation may last, as people found out along the coast after Hurricane Fran and Floyd. If the situation is too dangerous for you and your family to remain in your home, then it is too dangerous for your pets to be left behind!


Most American Red Cross shelters do not permit pets. Service animals, such as seeing eye dogs, are permitted in Red Cross shelters. Kennels and local animal shelters may not be operational or may be full. Three American Red Cross shelters in Forsyth County have been designated as "Pet Friendly" shelters where pets and their owners may reside in the same building-but not the same room. These may not be open for each disaster; therefore, you should make arrangements for your pet(s) before disaster strikes.

Watch a video about preparing for emergency if you have pets.

Left Behind

If pets must be left behind, please remember if possible take your pets with you, but if you are unable please follow the following steps:

  • Confine your pets in a room, such as a bathroom, that does not have windows but does have ventilation. Leave familiar toys and bedding. Never turn pets loose to fend for themselves or leave a dog tied outside.
  • Leave dogs together only if they are compatible and of similar size. Always separate dogs from cats; even the friendliest of pets can become enemies during times of stress.
  • Make sure each pet is wearing a collar with an identification tag
  • Post a notice on the front door stating that pets are inside, telling where they can be located, and requesting the reader to notify Animal Control or Emergency Management. Provide a telephone number where you can be reached.
  • Provide pets with plenty of water, when under stress an animal can drink several gallons a day (fill buckets or a bathtub) and a large supply of dry food (wet food spoils quickly).
  • When you return home, give your pets time o settle back into their routine, consult your veterinarian if any behavior problem persist.
  1. Safe Place
  2. Portable Disaster Supplies Kit
  3. Know What to Do

Have a safe place to take your pet.

The first step in being prepared to evacuate your pets is to have a safe place to take them. Contact hotels and motels outside your immediate area to check policies on accepting pets. Ask if "no pet" policies could be waived in an emergency. Keep a list of "pet friendly" places, including phone numbers. Ask friends, relatives, or others outside the affected area whether they could shelter your animals. Prepare a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians who could shelter your pets in an emergency; include 24-hour phone numbers.