Pet Emergency Management

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Concept and background[edit]

Emergency management is the discipline of dealing with and avoiding risks.[1] The concept and terminology "pet emergency management" was developed by renowned pet safety expert Ines de Pablo in the spring of 2007. "Defining pet emergency management" is a registered trademark of Ms. de Pablo's company, namely Wag'N Enterprises. With her background in the field of emergency management, Ms. de Pablo determined it was time to apply her expertise to the pet world/industry. Pet emergency management is the application of emergency management practices in regards to pet safety. It involves mitigation measures (i.e. accident avoidance for pet owners, continuity of operations for pet businesses); preparedness (i.e. pet parents learning pet first aid skills, training of first responders in animal handling, pet businesses developing evacuation, emergency drills and continuity of operation plans, etc.); response (i.e. the application of pet first aid skills, use of pet first aid equipment, organized evacuation of residences and animal shelters, etc.) as well as recovery efforts.
The destructive force of Hurricane Katrina exposed many flaws in our nation’s emergency preparedness programs. One easily correctible issue that has come to light is that many of our city and state authorities’ disaster plans did not take into account how to rescue the portion of the population who are pet owners.Thousands of pets died, many as a result of poor planning, flawed local, state and federal policies. As a result, an amendment to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5196b) was issued. Section 613 of the Act was amended in October 2006. This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act of 2006’’.


Personal mitigation is mainly about knowing and avoiding unnecessary risks. This includes an assessment of possible risks to personal/family health and to personal property.[2]
Pet mitigation efforts may include finding the proper placement for a doghouse, so that it is not inundated in the event of heavy rains. It is also helpful to learn about what might harm a pet (poisonous foods,[3] plants[4] and such), dangerous situations such as driving with unrestrained pets, and how to prevent aggressive behavior through training. Pet proofing a home to prevent pets from getting into sharp/breakable objects, medication cabinets, holiday hazards is recommended. Ensure that storage units and garages are locked, that antifreeze, gasoline, pesticides, pool cleaner and other dangerous chemicals are properly stored. Without a doubt, pet insurance and microchips are great mitigation tools, as they help lower ownership cost and locate lost pets. Pets should always carry proper ID and tags, and health records should be kept accessible and up-to-date. Balconies should have safe railings, doors and windows should be locked. Finally, emergency numbers to a 24-hour veterinary clinic and the National Animal Poison Control Center should be placed by all phones.
Owners need to know their pets and pet behavior in general to avoid risks. By learning the threats, it is possible to prevent accidents from taking place.


This involves creating a plan for the entire household and practicing putting it into action. The following is a list of important issues to consider:

• Learning human and pet first aid: Basic first aid is invaluable during emergencies. Pet and human first aid classes are available locally through PetTech and the Red Cross.
• Finding a safe evacuation locations along evacuation route: A safe place must be established for the owner and their pets. A large number of shelters (Red Cross included) do not allow pets during emergencies. With this in mind, owners should find pet friendly hotels and motels located at a reasonable distance. Also, it’s important to remember that during emergencies many establishments that do not usually welcome pets may temporarily change their policies. The best way to find out is to visit them or contact them by phone or email.[5]
• Purchasing crates and getting pets used to them: Most "pet friendly" establishments require that animals are crated when they arrive, and those that may welcome pets and their owners during an emergency will likely require a crate as well. Furthermore, a crate is a safe place for pets to sleep in, and make transporting easier. Owners may get their pets used to crating by using them during car rides or by having their pets sleep in them when visiting relatives or friends.[6]
• Relying on a neighbor: It is possible that due to a disaster or emergency owners may be unable to return home to care for their pets. During these types of situations it’s helpful to have a neighbor or friend care for their animals. It’s important to ensure that this temporary caretaker is someone who their pet is familiar with, and that they are left with detailed instructions for proper care. Owners may want to consider leaving a signed authorization for veterinary care, as well as financial limits to the procedures.
• Preparing evacuation kits for pets: They should include food, water, medicine, vaccination and health records, a current photo and information about pet insurance if applicable. Ideally, a worn article of clothing belonging to the owner should be included to comfort the pet. They should also feature a pet first aid kit (They are available for purchase online, and veterinarians may advise on what their contents should be) and extra gear such as an extra collar, leash, feeder, etc. that might be forgotten or lost during an emergency. Include a flashlight, can opener and duct tape. Purchasing items made from reflective material and labeling them is also a good idea.
• Creating a detailed plan and checklists: The plan provide alternative routes and solutions that is practiced with the entire family and pets. Checklists should include emergency contact information for animal's veterinarian or animal clinic, along with phone numbers for the local animal poison control and emergency animal rescue and veterinary care centers.

Response during the emergency[edit]

• Bring all pets inside immediately.
• If instructed to evacuate owners should make ALL efforts to take their pets with them.
• Have newspapers available for sanitary purposes - also feed the animals moist or canned food so they will need less water to drink.
• If applicable, separate different types of animals, even if they normally get along. The anxiety of an emergency situation can cause pets to act irrationally.
• Implement evacuation or shelter-in-place plan.

Response after the emergency[edit]

• After the disaster, leash pets when going outside. Maintain close contact, as pets may be confused due to changes on what used to be familiar landmarks and scents.
• Keep an eye out for snakes or other animals that might have been brought into the area by flood waters. Be aware that wildlife has likely been affected and displaced - Raccoons, gophers, deer and other wild animals might confront pets.
• Monitor pet behavior. Normally quiet and friendly pets may become aggressive or defensive after an emergency situation. Remember that emergency services might have been interrupted - Be aware that in case of injury it may take days for services to be fully restored and available
• If pets cannot be found after a disaster, contact the local animal control office to find out where lost animals can be recovered. Bring along a picture for identification purposes, if available.

Recovery of lost or sheltered pets[edit]

There are Interim Guidelines for Animal Health and Control from the Disease Transmission in Pet Shelters. These are the guidelines shelters should abide by however in time of emergency guidelines may vary depending on the staff/resources and current situation:

1. Animals must be examined, with a focus on hydration status, cuts and abrasions and paw/hoof/foot health. Other important examinations include ear health, oral injuries, vomiting and/or diarrhea, respiratory disease and evidence of parasite infestation.
2. Animals should be bathed upon admission, Dawn dish soap may be used to remove toxic chemicals and petroleum.
3. A health record and history should be established and updated as needed. Owned animals should be marked to avoid mix-ups with abandoned/unidentified animals.
4. Animals should be scanned for microchip information with all available scanners. If ownership of the animal is not established through microchips, it should be checked for tags or tattoos.
5. Animals of different species should not be housed together.[7]

Precautions for Livestock[edit]

In addition to the suggestions for pet owners, livestock owners should follow these recommendations:
• Make sure all animals have a durable and visible identification.
• Ensure that poultry have access to high areas in which to perch if located in a flood-prone area, as well as access to clean water and food.
• Reinforce barns with hurricane straps and similar measures.
• Remove all barbed wire, and consider rerouting permanent fencing so that animals may move to high ground in case of floods.
• Secure or remove all items that may become debris, fill any large containers or boats with water to prevent them from blowing around.
• Label all hazardous materials and place them in a safe area.[8]


Pet owners need to implement a plan for the unexpected. Plans will vary greatly depending on location; types of pets and owner, but the basics should be similar. By securing the appropriate knowledge and supplies, pet owners will be better off and their pets will be less likely to end up lost and injured.

See also[edit]

Academic resources[edit]

  • International Journal of Emergency Management, ISSN 1741-5071 (electronic) ISSN 1471-4825 (paper), Inderscience Publishers
  • Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management ISSN 1547-7355, Bepress
  • Australian Journal of Emergency Management, [1] (electronic) ISSN 1324-1540 (paper), Emergency Management Australia
  • Stephenson Disaster Management Institute


External links[edit]