Pet Safety in an Emergency

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If you must evacuate, do not leave your animals behind. Evacuate them to a prearranged safe location if they cannot stay with you during the evacuation period. The City shelter can accommodate pets.

Plan your evacuation and leave in plenty of time. Do not wait until the last minute to evacuate. When rescue officials come to your door, they may not allow you to take your pets with you.

  • Acquire large carrier and familiarize your pet with the carrier
  • Acquire non-spill water and food bowls
  • Stock up on pet food and kitty litter
  • Stock up on newspapers, plastic bags and disinfectants
  • Keep vaccinations/medical records up to date with written verification
  • Keep documentation of medications with dosing instructions
  • Acquire a collar and leash, with current license, rabies and id tags. If you face evacuation, it is a good idea to attach to the collar the phone number of a friend or family member who is well out of disaster range. That way, anyone who finds your pet will be able to reach a person who knows how to contact you.
  • Photograph your pet. Carry a photo of your pet for identification purposes.
  • Carry a list of emergency telephone numbers with you. This should include your veterinarian, local animal control, local animal shelters, the Red Cross, and any other individual or group you might need to contact during the disaster.
  • Determine best location in your house for your pet: bathroom, kitchen
  • Decide where you might take your pet if it becomes necessary
    • boarding kennels
    • veterinarian hospitals
    • friends and relatives
    • motels that accept pets...

Call hotels in a safe location and ask if you can bring your pet. If the hotel has a no-pets policy, ask the manager if the hotel can waive the policy during the disaster.

Birds:

Birds should be transported in a secure travel cage or carrier. In cold weather, wrap a blanket over the carrier and warm up the car before placing birds inside. During warm weather, carry a plant mister to mist the birds' feathers periodically. Do not put water inside the carrier during transport. Provide a few slices of fresh fruits and vegetables with high water content. Have a photo for identification and leg bands. If the carrier does not have a perch, line it with paper towels and change them frequently. Try to keep the carrier in a quiet area. Do not let the birds out of the cage or carrier.

Reptiles:

Snakes can be transported in a pillowcase but they must be transferred to more secure housing when they reach the evacuation site. If your snakes require frequent feedings, carry food with you. Take a water bowl large enough for soaking as well as a heating pad. When transporting house lizards, follow the same directions as for birds.

Pocket Pets:

Small mammals (hamsters, gerbils, etc.) should be transported in secure carriers suitable for maintaining the animals while sheltered. Take bedding materials, food bowls, and water bottles.

Please visit www.petswelcome.com for a complete list of hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts that are willing to accommodate your pet. 

City Shelter:
The City of Williamsburg's Emergency Operations Procedure includes sheltering plans for companion and service animals at the City’s designated local emergency shelter, Quarterpath Park Recreation Center, 202 Quarterpath Road. The shelter will accept pets during an emergency, however, they will be housed in a separate area from the general public. Those bringing pets to the emergency shelter are required to bring food, water and medicine, as well as a crate to house their animal(s). Uncrated pets will not be allowed to remain in the shelter.

Please contact the Williamsburg Emergency Management Coordinator at 220-6220 for additional information.

For more information about making an emergency plan for your pet, go to vaemergency.gov/readyvirginia/getakit/pets.