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Emergency and Disaster Preparedness

How to prepare your animals for evacuations and other emergencies. 

Be prepared before disaster strikes

The best way to keep your pets safe is to prepare for possible emergencies ahead of time. Make a plan for your pets and livestock. Emergencies are stressful enough. Do what you can to prepare now!

Here are some tips on how to create an emergency plan and kit for your companion animals.

Prepare your pets

  • Make sure your dog wears a collar with a Washington County dog license and your cat wears an identification tag.
  • Microchip your pet. A microchip remains in an animal for life and is helpful if your pet loses its collar.
  • Be sure to keep your pet’s ID tag, dog license information and your contact information connected to their microchip up to date.
  • Prepare small animals like cats and dogs to be ready to evacuate by training them to come when called and getting them used to being in a crate. Work with large animals such as horses to get them used to moving in and out of trailers in case you need to move them quickly in an emergency.

Arrange for a place to stay if you are evacuated

  • Talk with friends and family to identify locations that may be able to house both you AND your animals if you need to evacuate. Remember, disaster shelters may be unable to accept pets.
  • Work with your neighbors to make a plan for your animals if an evacuation is ordered when you aren’t home and can’t return to get your pets.

Make an emergency kit

In addition to creating and maintaining “go kits” for the humans in your household, be sure to have the following items packed and ready to go for your pets:

  • At least a three-day supply of water and food to take with you (keep a ten-day supply in your home).
  • Containment and identification. Have a leash and collar with ID tags and County licenses for your dogs. Cats and other small pets should have carriers. All pets should be microchipped.
  • Litter supplies for cats or other small animals, waste pickup bags for dogs, and basic cleanup supplies for all pets.
  • Photos of your pets in case you get separated. Include a photo of you with your pet as another form of identification.
  • Medical records. Keep up-to-date copies of vaccine records and medical information on hand.
  • Pet first aid kit.

Make sure to check your kit regularly. Rotate the supplies and update information as necessary.

Other disaster planning resources

For more disaster preparation information, check out these pet preparedness tips from FEMA.

Our local response to disasters

If disaster strikes, Washington County Animal Services is ready to respond. Most of our employees have completed basic emergency preparedness courses and several have finished hands-on technical animal rescue training.

We have a trailer equipped with disaster response supplies, such as first-aid and medical goods, extra crates and kennels, and provisions for temporary shelters. Additionally, we have an emergency response manual that outlines procedures and lists community resources where we can temporarily shelter small animals and livestock.

We are also a founding member of the Animal Multi-Agency Coordination Group (Animal MAC-G) which is a coalition of our neighboring animal services and humane organizations. We meet quarterly to plan trainings, share emergency response information, and maintain communication and resource availability. We have mutual aid agreements in place that will facilitate inter-agency assistance and cooperation in the event of a disaster or emergency event.