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Preparing for a Disaster

by Beth Brookhouser


The SPCA for Monterey County was the very first animal welfare agency in the United States to partner with the American Red Cross and shelter pets adjacent to human evacuation shelters during disasters. 

A little planning and awareness before a disaster occurs can prevent tragedies afterwards. Ideally, you should prepare to care for yourself and your family (including your pets and livestock) for a minimum of 72 hours and preferably at least seven days after a disaster occurs.

The following recommendations are based on the SPCA for Monterey County’s experiences assisting animal guardians during and after fires, floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes.

  1. If you are given an order to evacuate, take your pets and livestock with you. Any situation that is dangerous for you is also dangerous for your animals.

  2. If you need to leave your pets behind for any reason, contact the SPCA for Monterey County immediately. They provide emergency rescue whenever possible. Or contact your local animal control.

  1. Be prepared for no electricity or phone service for at least 72 hours to one week.  Police and emergency services may be severely limited.

  1. Keep your pet’s vaccinations current and always keep a collar and tags on your pets.  Microchip your pets.

  2. Create a disaster preparedness kit for your pets and livestock.  A complete list of suggested items is available here.

    • Basic pet first aid items.

    • Any needed medications.

    • Pet food and water.

    • Halters and lead ropes for livestock; leashes and collars for pets; pet carriers and spare I.D. tags for dogs and cats.

    • “Evacsacs” or pillow cases for cats or small pets such as rabbits.

    • Pet food and water bowls, manual can openers and plastic pet food can lids.

    • Copies of current vaccination certificates, licensing, and microchip information, veterinarian’s contact info, contact info for your local shelter.

    • Recent, full-body, color photos of your pets with you in the picture in the event they are lost or separated from you.

Planning ahead for disasters can save lives and make a very stressful situation less severe. For more information visit www.spcamc.org/disaster-preparedness.html.


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