With the PETS Act of 2006 – and building on learnings from emergency situations across the country – state, county and local governments now have provisions for the management of pets and service animals in emergencies.
While plans differ from state to state, chances are your local plans include procedures for pet evacuation, sheltering, rescue, identification, tracking and recovery after a disaster.
Communication planning is key as well, to make sure citizens keep pets top of mind before, during and after an emergency. Research from Banfield Pet Hospital® in 2018 found that 91 percent of pet owners were not prepared for the next natural disaster.
If you are looking to enhance your city’s emergency response plan related to pets, and to help encourage citizens to be ready, here are resources that may be helpful:
- ASPCA Pro: Sample Plans for Evacuation and Sheltering
- Colorado State University Extension: Community Animal Disaster Planning Toolkit
- Michigan State University Animal Legal & Historical Center: Detailed Discussion of State Emergency Planning Laws for Pets and Service Animals
- USDA: APHIS Animal Care Program: Ensuring the Safety and Well-Being of Household Pets During a Disaster
- Ready.gov: Pet Preparedness Social Media Toolkit
- Red Cross: Pet Disaster Preparedness
- CDC: Pet Safety in Emergencies
- Ready.gov: Pets and Animals
- ASPCA: Disaster Preparedness
- FEMA: Are You “Petpared” for Disasters?
- Banfield Pet Hospital®: Pet First Aid Kits
- BluePearl™ Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospitals: How to Prepare Your Pets for a Hurricane
Communication is key to ensure citizens in your community understand their role in disaster planning, and the procedures and requirements you have locally. Use all the tools available:
- Website: Within your online emergency management communications, include a detailed page addressing pets. Include the provisions your community has in place and the expectations and requirements for pet owners.
- Social media: Make pet emergency readiness an ongoing topic on city social media. Check this preparedness messaging calendar from Ready.gov to see how you can discuss preparedness every month – and be sure to regularly discuss pets in the communications.
- Alerts: Make sure pets are included in emergency alerts such as radio and TV broadcasts and mass text messages. Pet owners need to be prepared ahead of time for an emergency, but it’s also key to remind them not to leave pets behind as a crisis is unfolding.
- Downloadable brochures: Provide encouragement and tips to help citizens develop emergency plans for their household. Here are brochures from the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ program that give a quick overview of planning steps. You are welcome to offer these as downloads from your city website.
Examples from Certified Cities
Here are examples of communications from BETTER CITIES FOR PETS certified cities of various sizes. Some share county and state level information while others have detailed local information. Whatever size your community is, the key is to start the conversation and provide a path for citizens to begin learning and preparing.