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Preparing For Emergencies

As a caretaker for animals I encourage you to take the time and research what your specific animal companions need in an emergency and make plans to provide for them. Take the time to create an emergency plan.

This article will help you to prepare for an emergency and give you suggestions to help keep you and your animal companions safe.

Please read the information below to get started in your planning for the safe evacuation, care and safety of your animals during an emergency such as a fire, earthquake, flood, or other disaster.

Being Ready

According to the Emergency Animal Rescue Service, under the auspices of United Animal Nations, one of the most comprehensive training programs in the country, we learned that preparation is the key to saving the lives of the animals in our lives during disasters and other emergency situations. Here are some helpful pieces of information we hope that you will use to keep you and your animals safe.

#1: Identification (this is a critical part of Emergency planning)

Keep your animal's names and ID information, along with your address and phone numbers written on each animal tags, collar, carrier, or other ID item. Reunification of your animals is possible even in the chaos created by a disaster. Your careful preparation for your animals' needs may save their life!

Create a photo sheet that shows each one of your animals with descriptions and their names. Have a copy of this document in both your Emergency pack (we will discuss this later). Keep your photo ID sheet at your home with your other important papers. Also, send a copy to your work computer, share this info with a friend, your vet and with an animal care buddy. . When disaster strikes you will then have several sources to have the information you need. Be prepared.

Always list your name and address on all ID tags and info posts: Addresses are necessary, as phones may not be working during a disaster.

Collars and microchips: Even cats who are normally indoors will benefit from collars during a disaster if displaced. Use breakaway collars that will easily slip of if caught on something for cats. You will need photos, and your microchip info.

Many animals can be micro chipped, (rabbits can be michochipped) and remember to register the chip! This is probably the most foolproof method of identification, and very advisable for the many species who cannot wear collars. Rabbits cannot wear collars.

Emergency Id marks. If you do have to evacuate your animals in a rush, you may quickly write you phone number in ink inside their ear. It depends on the emergency. It may be the only method you have of seeing your animal again in case you are separated in an extensive emergency situation. Remember; during an emergency many animals do not make it into their normal carriers you have set up with ID tags. You may need to use soft-shell carriers or other pet evacuation bags that you may have in your truck or at home.

Rabbit harnesses: Some of you may choose to have a rabbit harness. Please use a permanent marker or sew in your contact info inside the harness. In an emergency, put the harness on the rabbit on and transport the best way possible.

Please do NOT leave a rabbit in a cage or hutch and leave. They most likely would not survive a fire, flood or other major disaster with no possible means of escape. You are their guardians and must protect them.

The buddy help system: Develop an animal care Buddy system: One of the very best methods to preserve the safety of your beloved animal friends is the neighborhood buddy system for pets: Talk to your neighbors and friends about your animals and discuss what to do in an emergency. Then prepare a 3 X 5 card that you give to your trusted care Buddies. This card tells them what to do - what pets you have - where they are - It gives them the location of your emergency packet of food and carriers for your pets- (in your home) It should also give your contact id.

In a buddy system - your buddy takes care of your animals if they are close and you take care of theirs if you are closer. You have to count on these resources - rely on those you know you can trust to carry out this service.

What if you are on vacation during an emergency or at work? Let someone who can help you and your pets. They need to know what to do & How to reach you -Tell them where emergency carriers and supplies are kept at your home. In a closet, be specific.

Think! Preparation is essential. There is no time to do this during an emergency. Planning may help to save the life of your animal companions.

Photo ID: Pictures are so important: Take pictures of every one of your companion animals. Highlight identifying markings, state names, ages and any health concerns. The pictures should be put in your emergency pack. Always keep you emergency pack up to date (Use current pictures). Keep a photo with id info sheet with you in your handbag or wallet. One in your glove box one in your emergency pack one filed with your bunny caretaker and another with your vet. This way you will be covered.

Prepare an Animal ID sheet: You can make one sheet with all your animals' pictures in small photos with name and brief write up next to their photo. Show all of your animals with picture and breed information.

If you ever have to leave one behind, clearly mark the ones you cannot find so rescue staff will look for them and know how to reunite them with you. This simple planning can save your animals life. Also, Call you buddy to let them know which pet is missing - check back at your home as soon as humanly possible. Do not be deterred. You are the animal's caretaker. Others will be focused on the crisis at hand and their own families. Focus on your family, your animals. (If possible)

Fire/Rescue notices: Notice for Fire or other emergency personnel: There are many different Rescue cards available to put in your front window bottom right hand corner. Fire/rescue staffs are trained to look for this information. Always let the fire /emergency rescue Depts. know on the CARD in the window what animals you have- Note if you have an emergency packet in the house and if so, where it is. Be CLEAR. Make it easy for rescue staff to help save your animals. Have the emergency food /med pack in a clearly marked place. Remember to also let your buddy notification person have this info too.

Good idea: Send a copy of this photoID file to your work, to your vet and to a friend for access in case your computer is destroyed. Always try to have a back up You will need it if your residence is destroyed or you have to evacuate - If you do not have a computer, use a manual photo id system and make copies and mail to your sources.

#2 Have Temporary Restraints (leads)/containers:

Because dogs can sometimes slip out of collars, harnesses can assist in restraining a dog safely and often makes them more manageable in a stressful situation. Cats, Rabbits and Potbellied Pigs are also easier to deal with when using a harness when they are evacuated. Some practice time in a harness before an emergency situation is present is advice able. For animals who ride in the car with you during normal times, keep leashes in the car in case a disaster occurs while you are out and about. For rabbits a soft shell carrier is great - pop it in the trunk. Have one in your Emergency bag. It folds flat and takes hardly any room- I recommend always have a folded flat carrier or two in your truck It takes hardly any space and it can save your bunnies (or other animals life) a bag of food is helpful too.

During a disaster under evacuation orders: In an emergency, when you are ordered to evacuate- -Put you rabbit, bird or other small animal in any thing you can find and get out of danger. (Pillow cases, purses duffle bags anything will do- If you can get to your Emergency pack take it if not leave it and get out of harms way -

Keep your safety and your animal companions' safety as a first concern - Food, everything else must be second on your list! Yes, you should have prepared emergency packs, however, some people don't -Getting you and all family animal companions to safety is of the top priority when you are under evacuation orders.

Please Never leave your animals behind! There is no one who cares more for them than you do and you may be the last person to see them. You know where they will be - Take them with you.

Other notes: If you have time, along with the harness and collars, you will also need leashes to use when walking dogs. Plastic airline carriers or collapsible carriers are very important to have on hand. Transporting loose animals can be very dangerous especially in scary situations - fire flood and other disasters.

If possible: Make sure the carrier is large enough for the animal to lie down in and still have room for necessary litter boxes, water and food bowls. In a severe emergency forget the size just get your pets out.

For Birds, small Mammals you will also want a secure transport cage or carrier that your a animal can be secured in and comfortably stay in for a few days. (Or make do) Your first priority is to get out of immediate danger.

If possible, make sure your carrier is one that cannot be chewed out of. Have a towel and net on hand to capture Birds and place in emergency cages if necessary. The towel can also serve as a cover to protect the Birds against drafts during evacuation. (Very good idea) For rabbits always have a bag of food and pellets on hand near the cage in a gal zip lock - or some plastic bag you can put their food in.

Medicines: If your animal needs medications, it is your responsibility to carry a minimum 3-day supply with you. Plan on that! Same rule applies to you! T his gives you some time to get replacement meds. Try to stock more if possible. Explain to your vet what you are doing and why you need the additional meds. Your veterinarian can be a most helpful part of your emergency rescue planning. Ask them for information as to emergency shelter for your pet and how to reach them in an emergency.

Other helpful items: Emergency collapsible food water dishes help or a water bottle - Have this back pack with Emergency stuff by their cages or in a nearby closet. Consider a backpack to keep all the materials you may need. You can grab your animal companion the ER ration (food and med) pack and run out the door.

Again, if it is dire emergency - Leave the stuff - just get you and your animals out. Take them with you! Do not count on rescue to pick up your animals. If you have a functional car, get the animals in your car and quickly drive to safety.

Large animals rescue (You better have a good plan, as you need one. Friends, family, Trailers, all will be needed - share resources and get all the animals out - Do you VERY best, otherwise they most likely will not survive a fire, major flood or major disaster where their habitat is destroyed.

#3. Lost animals: If an animal is lost in an Emergency evacuation. (Cannot be found to evacuate), and you must leave your animal friend, Post a big sign on your window with picture (you should have a picture of the animals that is missing and your phone number. Always have an extra copy of this pet picture list with you for identification. One copy on window one copy with you!

#4: Food and Water (Basics-what you need to have) Food kept for emergencies must be rotated every few months to keep it fresh and safe. Have a two week supply of your Companion's normal food, stored in airtight containers if dry food, on hand. Food should be rotated every three months. If you normally feed canned foods, you'll want to also pack a can opener and spoon. It is also possible that their food and water dishes may be lost or damaged, so pack new spill proof dishes with the food. Have cleaning supplies for the dishes, paper towels or rags, packed with these items. A two-week supply of water should be stored in a dark place. Water should be rotated every two months.

Try to remember: During a disaster it is important not to let animals drink flood or drain water, which may be contaminated.

Feed as close to normal time as usual to minimize stress. (Under emergency condition do whatever is need to survive) -when food is available, give it! For rabbits, you need to keep them eating and drinking for them to survive. Therefore, it becomes critical that you get food and fluids in the rabbits. I suggest that you obtain a 3 cc syringe from your vet. Put it in your purse one glove compartment. Obtain a feeding 3-20 cc syringe in your Emergency pack - You will never regret it. If you have a rabbit buy a bag of critical care. Pop that in your glove box - plus keep one in your emergency kit. Critical care can be emergency food during high stress times and may save your rabbits life. Of course you should have pellets in a baggie and hay - but what if you don't? Think ahead - Plan. If you remember pick up small cans of plain pumpkin also. One in your truck one in ER pack this mixed with Critical care is a great food to help manage your rabbits needs during high stress emergencies. (Of course this will not be needed if you have the water, pellets and hay required.

Note: A rabbit must eat /drink within 24 hours. They need to be secure, kept warm and comforted - at the very least you can give them water and critical care using that smartly kept 3 cc syringes you have handy.

#5: First Aid and Medical Issues

Vaccination and medical records are very important to have on hand during an emergency. Get a copy from your vet and place them in your emergency pack. Talk to your veterinarian about her disaster plan. If your animal companion needs medical attention during a disaster, you need to know where to go. Part of your planning and preparation should be creating a list of Veterinarian Offices, including your primary Vet, a second choice and an Emergency Veterinary Clinic.

Rabbits: In addition to the items needed below: You may need sub Q fluids, a syringe a few needles or sub Q kit with tubing. Needles, critical care, hay, food a snuggle safe. Warming blanket, one can of pumpkin, coban (vet wrap) in case of injury, a digital thermometer, a bit of pain meds (just in case) and some antibiotic cream) Any meds your rabbit must have daily (3 day supply) rotate to keep fresh. During a fire Food or other disaster Rabbit Haven staff are on call to help you. We are NOT vets. We can provide basic care to help you get through until you can see a vet if needed. We attempt to maintain a supply of food as well. However, we really on each family to have that emergency kit with them. We will do out part and help you in any way we can.

Please take a look at the full emergency preparation list below. You may also want to include a book on first aid for animals. Have a two-week supply of any long-term medication in your emergency kit. If it is necessary to keep medications refrigerated, have a chemical ice pack ready in your freezer and an ice chest for storage as a part of your pack.

Please Prepare an Emergency First Aid Kit. Do it as soon as possible. For items to include you may want to include refer to this list below: add you own items as recommended by your vet and based on your animal's needs.

#6: Emergency Preparation Checklist-general summary

Food and Water Supplies:

  • Two Week's Food (Dry in labeled airtight containers)
  • Usual Treats
  • Two Week Supply of Water
  • Food and Water Dishes
  • Spoons, Scoops, and Can opener as necessary


  • Microchipped
  • Collars Marked on Animals
  • Tags on Collars
  • Extra Collars Marked With Tags In Emergency Pack
  • Recent Photos
  • Current License Tags

Temporary Restraint Equipment:

  • Harness
  • Leashes (you coudl have several for those inexpensive ones in glove box)
  • Carriers or Crates soft-shell carriers re the easiest to utilize during rushed evacuations. when there is not room for hard shell carriers.
  • Towels
  • Nets (for appropriate animals)

Veterinarian Information And Medical Supplies:

Veterinarian's Name _________________________
Phone ___________ Address _________________________
Alternative Vet's Name _________________________
Phone ___________ Address _________________________
ER Veterinarian's Name _________________________
Phone ___________ Address _________________________
Vaccinations Records
Special Medical Needs - Instructions Attached
Two Weeks Supply of Prescription Medications

First Aid Kit

  • Species Specific First Aid Book
  • Conforming bandage (3"x5")
  • Absorbent gauze pads (4"x4")
  • Absorbent gauze pad (3"x 1 yard)
  • Q-tips /cotton balls.
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Emollient Cream
  • Antibiotic Cream
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors
  • Nail Clippers
  • Quick-stop or Corn Starch
  • Several Pairs Latex Gloves
  • Heavy Duty Gloves (for handling injured Animals)
  • Instant Cold Pack
  • Thermometer
  • Baby Aspirin
  • Pedialyte
  • Feeding Syringe
  • Ice Pack and Ice Chest
  • Muzzle (for appropriate animals)

In Case Of Emergency Friends and Resources:

First Choice __________________________
Phone _______________ Address ___________________
Second Choice __________________________
Phone _______________ Address ___________________
Emergency Kennel I __________________________
Phone _____________ Address __________________
Emergency Kennel II __________________________
Phone _____________ Address __________________
Animal Services Phone _______________
Address ________________________

Cleaning And Litter Supplies:

  • Dish soap
  • Disinfectant
  • Plastic Bags
  • Paper towels
  • Scoopers
  • Litter
  • Small Litter Box (Newspaper will do)


  • Toys
  • Blankets
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Wire, Wire Cutter, Pliers
  • Photo ID sheet

Feel free to share this list. Print additional copies of the second page for different companions and/or species. If you care for Rabbits, pack an extra thermometer, a feeding syringe and Pedialyte. Hopefully packets of critical care too.

#7: Evacuation Locations:

Create a list of important locations in advance. Shelters for humans sometimes will not allow animals. Finding an acceptable housing /boarding facility and making note of it's location and phone number could prove invaluable. Your Vet's office may be one of the alternatives. Have several professional facilities on your list.

Know where your local Animal shelter is located so that if you are separated from your Companions you can check with them immediately to pick up your animals. Create a list of friends you can turn to and who can turn to you if temporary lodging is necessary. Check with your neighbors and people outside of your area in case your entire neighborhood is in the path of the disaster. (Remember the Buddy system) Have an evacuation plan worked out with your support system ahead of time.

#8. Sanitation:

To begin with, some basic cleaning supplies are necessary to pack. Dish soap, disinfectant, and paper towels will be invaluable. You will need these items to keep food dishes, cages and carriers clean. Other important items are items needed for picking up after your dog, newspaper for lining carriers and cages, and plastic bags to contain waste. Have a two week supply available. for rabbit waste from a make shift litter box using simple newspaper, contents may be discarded in any waster container. For cats and other small mammals, litter and litter boxes are also necessary.

#9. Miscellaneous

Your emergency pack should also include toys and chew toys to help deal with boredom of confinement. The emotional needs of our animals friend s are so important Rabbits are very sensitive and they may be highly stressed in any emergency - give them as much TLC as possible It will help you too! Other items to include in your ER pack: blankets, flashlights and batteries. We are told that the latter items are essential to maintain light cycles for Birds. Be sure to pack wire cutters, wire and pliers to repair metal emergency transport containers or cages. Most of these items can be found at your dollar store they're is no excuse not to have items needed in an emergency - Prepare!

When an animal MUST be left behind. (Last resort)

In case the most horrible situation occurs and you cannot possible take your animals due to injury or other situation - Please think ahead and leave plenty of food and water. Leave a sign (prepared before remember) on your front door or inside your front window --- in front that lists any and all animals you are leaving behind so that Rescue Workers know who to look for and save.

Call you buddy caretaker - (remember the system??) Always leave your phone number and address and note where you are going or ask fire dept to do so. If it is humanly possible take your animals with you. Please do all in your power not to leave them behind. Return to the site as soon as you possibly can or send another to pick up your animals. Tell hospital personnel about your pets and to notify your contacts. Notify Shelter, sanctuaries, rescue organization and the Red cross about your animals.

During relocation/evacuation: Remember to give your animals some extra attention. They are scared too and some comfort from you will go a long ways. Probably for both of you. Animals may be terrified and act in ways that you do not understand. Try and be understanding, compassionate and helpful. Move them to a safe stable place as soon as possible. Comfort each other.


Love to you and your family - Auntie Heather from The Rabbit Haven, October 2007