Emergency Preparedness

Animal Rescue Plans

An animal rescue plan saves more than pets. It saves people. Why? Most people see their pets as family. People who feel that way have a tendency to put themselves into grave personal danger to save their companions. So, why not reduce risk for both human and animal by planning ahead?

For Starters

Contingency planning is nothing more than playing the “What if?” game.  It begins with assessing risk, considering options, and then gathering supplies, making arrangements in advance, and distilling essential actions down to a simple checklist. The good news is that once we start planning for one disaster, we soon realize that our immediate actions would be much the same for all disasters. For example, whether we have to evacuate because of flood, fire, or industrial accident makes little difference for our animals or the supplies we need.

What to Plan For

What happens when calamities strike?  Consider common disasters such as:

– Contamination of food and water sources

– Loss of heat and power

– Structural damage

– Mandatory evacuation.

Thinking through such contingencies prepares us for handling them. This compresses reaction time and helps keep our animals and us away from related hazards. Consider:

Things to Get in Advance

  1. Secure identification. Sometimes, pets run away to survive. They get just as disoriented as people and wind up in unpredictable places. Nothing improves our chances of being reunited more than having them found with a collar that has a valid phone number. A microchip also helps.


  1.  Secure carrier to transport them. Not only does this expedite evacuation, it reassures pets, especially if the carrier is familiar and has their own scent from prior use.


  1.  Bottled water and spare food. Animals get hungry and thirsty. So do people. We should stock emergency rations for both.


  1.  A two-week supply of prescription medications. Veterinary offices might be closed and medical records inaccessible for refills. A first-aid kit with Pepto-Bismol, peroxide, Benadryl, a disinfectant, antibiotic cream, bandages, and scissors is also worth packing.

Things to Pre-Arrange

  1.  A place to go.  Look for a location that will accept animals and choose a spot away from potential hazard zones.


  1.  A neighbour buddy system. Pool resources and identify those who might be at risk and need a helping hand.


  1.  A trusted agent.  What happens if disaster strikes while we are away and authorities are about to cordon off the area? This is where it pays to arrange in advance for a trusted friend to get our animal out of danger and over to one of those pre-identified places to go.

Finally: Test

Nothing beats staging a dry run. It shows what works and what needs fine-tuning. In a major disaster, there is no time to spare, so our plan must keep us from wasting time looking for things or guessing what to do next.

Disasters may be inevitable, but with planning, tragedies don’t necessarily have to follow for our pets.