Pets & Service AnimalsImage of YouTube Icon that links to Pets Video in American Sign Language

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An emergency kit is a container of items your family may need in or after an emergency. Most of the items can be found in your house.

Pets can be key members of a family. We have to take care of a pet and keep it safe. You need to include your pet(s) in your family emergency plan. If you need to leave your house during an emergency, bring your pet(s) with you!

Pets do not act the same as people in an emergency. You need to securely leash your dogs. You also need to carry your cats in pet carriers.

Do not leave your animals without someone with them. You do not want them to run off. You cannot let them run free during an emergency. Pets can panic, hide, try to escape, or even bite and scratch during an emergency.

Some shelters will allow pets to come in during or after an emergency. There are some that will not allow pets. You need to plan ahead to see which shelters will allow you to bring your pet(s). You can make back-up emergency plans in case you cannot care for your animals.

Emergency Kit

Keep a pet emergency supply kit with your family emergency kit. Include:

  • Enough canned/dry food for 3 to 7 days (get pop top cans or have a can opener).
  • Enough water to last for 3 to 7 days.
  • Pet feeding dishes.
  • Muzzle, collar and leash.
  • Proper identification including immunization records.
  • Your pet's ID tag should contain his name, telephone number, and any urgent medical needs.
  • Current photos of your pets in case they become lost.
  • Medical records (stored in a waterproof container) and a first aid kit.
  • A two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires.
  • Pet beds and toys, if you can easily take them with you.
  • Disposable litter trays (aluminum pans are perfect) for cats.
  • Litter or paper toweling.
  • A pet traveling bag or sturdy carrier, ideally for each pet.
  • Flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Blanket (for scooping up a fearful pet).
  • Proper fitting muzzle.

Safety Tips

  • Bring pets indoors at the first warning of a storm.
  • Keep at least a week’s supply of food and water on hand for each pet.
  • Have favorite treats that your animals like, which can be a comfort to them.
  • Do not let pets drink flood water or any other water that may be dirty as a result of a disaster.
  • Keep a backup supply of any medications your pet may be on; veterinary offices may not open for following a disaster.
  • Keep a collar and up-to-date tags on your pets. Tattooing or microchipping your animal is a more permanent form of identification.
  • Start a buddy system with someone in your neighborhood. Have this person check on your animal(s) during a disaster if you are not home. Agree to do the same thing for them.
  • If you need to leave your house during an emergency, use a cat or dog carrier to take each pet in your house out with you. (In an emergency, a pillowcase is another way to transport a cat.)
  • Have a leash for each dog. (A harness is also helpful in case a dog panics and tries to slip out of his or her collar.)
  • Have photos of all of your animals to take with you if you have to leave your house and you lose your pet.
  • In your emergency plan, identify boarding kennels, veterinary clinics, grooming facilities, hotels and motels, and the homes of family and friends where you might be able to take your pet in an emergency.
  • Have the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to foster or board your pets.
  • Know where the animal shelter(s) or animal rescue group(s) are in your area. You may need to visit them after a disaster to look for a missing animal.
  • Include some toys for your animals in your supply kit. Animals that are confined for long periods of time can become bored and/or stressed.
  • Comfort your animals during a disaster. They are frightened too.


Before an emergency happens, know where you can take your pets if you must leave your house. Some shelters in North Carolina will be listed as pet-friendly. Some hotels and motels accept pets. Click here to find pet friendly hotels in North Carolina,

Keep a list of pet-friendly hotels and motels or boarding facilities and their 24-hour phone numbers with your pet's emergency kit. You will have it if you need it.

You may not find a pet-friendly place during an emergency. If so, you can call hotels or motels that do not allow animals to see if they will waive their no-pet policies. If you know an emergency is going to happen, you can call ahead for reservations.

You may prefer to ask friends, relatives or others outside your affected area to keep your pets. If you have more than one pet, be prepared to house them separately.

As a last resort, ask local animal shelters if they can provide emergency shelter for pets during a disaster. They may be overburdened caring for the animals already in the shelter.

  • For lost and found animals, go to
  • Survey the area inside and outside your home. Identify sharp objects, dangerous items or wildlife, dirty water, downed power lines or other dangers.
  • Do not let animals drink flood water or any other water sources that may be tainted.
  • Keep cats, dogs and other small animals indoors. They should not be near unsafe wildlife or debris outdoors.
  • Release birds and reptiles only if necessary. You should let birds and reptiles go only after they are calm and inside.
  • Allow uninterrupted rest or sleep for all animals to recover from the shock and stress.
  • Physically check animal control and animal shelters DAILY for lost animals.
  • Post lost animal signs. Tell local veterinarians and your neighbors if you see/find a lost animal(s).

Information from the American Veterinary Medical Association

More Information

North Carolina State Animal Response Team Disaster Checklist

American Red Cross Pets and Disaster: Be Prepared

Center for Disease Control Resources for how to protect your pet in an emergency

Pets Welcome Pet-Friendly locations throughout the U.S.

N.C. State University Cooperative Extension Caring for your pets in an emergency

American Veterinary Medical Association Saving the Whole Family

National Weather Service Pets and Hurricane Preparedness

Friends of Animals Family Disaster Plan for Pets

U.S. Department of Agriculture Developing Emergency Plan for Pets in Disaster

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Animals in Disasters


Small Animals

Rabbits, ferrets, hamsters, gerbils, rats, mice, guinea pigs, etc., should be moved in secure carriers. Take bedding materials, food bowls, water bottles and exercise equipment.


Birds should be moved in a secure travel cage or carrier. In cold weather, wrap a blanket over the carrier and warm up the car before placing birds inside. In warm weather, carry a plant mister to mist the bird's feathers.

Do not put water in the carriers when you are moving birds. Give a bird a few slices of fresh fruit and vegetables with high water content for your bird.

Birds should be kept in quiet areas. Birds should not be out of their cages in unfamiliar areas. Give them fresh food daily.

Have photos available and leg bands on for identification. If the carrier does not have a perch, line it with paper towels. Change paper towels often.


Use water-tight plastic bags or plastic containers to move amphibians from place to place. Place only one type or one pet per container. Poke small air holes in the lid for air.

For terrestrial or semiaquatic amphibians, use a tiny amount of water, or moistened paper towels, foam rubber, or moss for the bottom of the container. For water-based pets, fill the plastic bag one third full of water. Then, you should blow up the bag with fresh air and close it with a knot or rubber band. It is best to use the water the animal was living in to lower stress.

Monitor water and air temperature, humidity, lighting and nutrition. Housing at the evacuation place should be consistent with what amphibians need. Make sure the container is escape proof. It should be placed away from areas of heavy traffic, loud noises and vibrations.


You can move small pet reptiles using a pillowcase, cloth sack or small moving carrier. Take your pet to a secure cage at the evacuation site when you get there. You need to include

  • a water bowl for soaking,
  • spray bottle for misting,
  • heating pad, battery-operated heating lamp or other heat source,
  • extra batteries, and
  • proper handling gloves/supplies.

Information from the American Veterinary Medical Association

Large Animals

If you have large animals such as horses, cows, sheep, goats or pigs on your property, be sure to prepare before a disaster.

  • All animals need to have some form of identification.
  • Move animals to a safer place when you can. Map out primary and secondary routes ahead of time.
  • Make sure you have vehicles and trailers for moving and supporting each type of animal. You should also make sure there are skilled people who can move the animals and drive the vehicles.
  • Note: It is best to allow animals a chance to become used to vehicular travel, so they are less scared and easier to move.
  • Make sure the places you are taking the animals have food, water, veterinary care and handling equipment.
  • If you cannot leave, animal owners must decide whether to move large animals to shelter or turn them outside.

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