Emergency Preparedness Means Preparing our Pets too!


You may be ready for the next emergency, but did you remember to prepare your pet too? The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) would like to remind Californians they have a role to play in disaster preparedness, not only with their family and neighbors, but also their pets.

Cal OES is committed to ensuring your furry family members are safe and prepared, this is done through CARES. California Animal Response Emergency System (CARES) works in partnership with California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). Cal OES knows that animals play an essential role in your family and CARES was created to provide operational guidance to assist with all aspects of animal care and control in the event of a disaster or emergency. In addition, CARES provides resources for the public, for animal businesses, for shelters, and for emergency planners.


One of the most important steps to ensuring your pets safety is to have a plan. To get started with pet preparedness plans, consider the type of animal you have, the risks and needs your pet might have and make sure each member of your family is familiar with the plan.

  • Create an evacuation plan that includes your animals:
    1. Identify where you will take your pets, including alternate routes and locations.
    2. Create a contact list of shelters, boarding facilities, hotels, kennels, fairgrounds, and equestrian centers.
    3. Contact these locations to determine their animal policies.
  • Assemble a pet emergency kit and store it so it is easily accessible. Include:
    1. A one-week supply of food, water, medications, and a first aid kit.
    2. Copies of medical and vaccination records, along with your veterinarian’s contact information.
    3. Current photos in case your pet becomes lost
  • Review and Update Your Plan Often:
    1. Practice your plan with family members to ensure everyone understands their role.
    2. Refresh your pet emergency kit often, making sure that food and water are fresh, and medication is current.
    3. Confirm that your pet’s contact information is up to date.


Having a Go-Bag can look different for animals than it does for people. To ensure that you and your pet are prepared for any type of emergency, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has pet safety tips. Having a Go-Bag can help alleviate stress when a disaster strikes.

  • Make sure you have an emergency kit for your pet. Items in the kit should include pet food, water, medications, veterinary records, blankets, toys, treats, etc.
  • A pet carrier for each of your pets (write your pet’s name, your name, and contact information on each carrier).
  • Make sure your pet has tags with current contact information.
  • For cats: litter box and litter
  • For dogs: plastic bags for poop
  • Keep a current photo of your pet.


Be familiar with local shelters. This may come in handy in case your pet goes missing. Emergencies can be just as scary for animals as they are for humans. If you find yourself and your pets in the middle of an emergency, bring them inside to a safe area immediately. If you are ordered to evacuate, please do not leave your pets behind. Leaving pets out of evacuation plans can put pets, pet owners, and first responders in danger. Even if you try to create a safe place for them, pets left behind during a disaster are likely to be injured, lost, or worse. Evacuate with your animals as safely as you can, without putting yourself in danger. This stresses the importance of pet planning – having a plan ensures you and your pets can either shelter in place or evacuate without worrying you forgot something.

For those that have large animals that may require more planning in the event of an emergency, The CDFA Cares Program is actively engaged with local and regional emergency managers and animal shelters to coordinate resources in support of animal care needs.

Additional pet preparedness resources:

Amid Flooding Concerns, Cal OES Reminds Californians to Prepare for Large Animal Evacuations | Cal OES News

CDFA – AHFSS – AHB – EPRS – CARES – Animal Shelter Documents and Resources

Animal Preparedness | California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services

Ready.gov Pet and Animal Emergency Planning