Companion Animals in Emergencies - A Guide


Emergency Management Advice for Companion Animal Owners

Disaster can strike at any time and often without warning. You are responsible for the physical, health and behavioural needs of your animals, even in emergency situations. This guide highlights some simple ways you can be prepared if disaster strikes.

  • Have enough food and water stored at home to last your animals at least 5 days. Remember, animals may drink more water during times of stress so allow for more than their normal daily intake.
  • Have your animal microchipped and registered with the New Zealand Companion Animal Register. Always make sure the records are kept up to date with current address and phone numbers so you can be contacted if your pet is lost or if you become separated during an emergency.
  • Ensure your animal is always wearing appropriate identification tags, including a name tag with current phone numbers and the local council registration tag (for dogs).
  • Have an agreement with a family member, friend, or neighbour who is willing and able to check on, feed, and/or retrieve your animal if you aren’t home when the disaster hits.
  • Have a family plan for evacuation that includes your animals. If you must evacuate, you should always take your animals with you. Never leave animals behind to fend for themselves. Plan in advance so you have pet friendly accommodation available if you need it. This may be as simple as arranging with friends and family to have you and your animals stay with them if you must leave your home.
  • Have an emergency evacuation kit ready to go if you need to leave in a hurry. The kit should contain basic supplies for all of your animals including food and water for 3-7 days, a water bowl, spare leash and collar for each animal, name tags with up to date phone numbers, a current photograph of your animals (to aid with identification if you become separated), a muzzle, a copy of vaccination, medical, and microchip records in a waterproof bag, medication in a waterproof bag/container (allow 3-7 days worth), a blanket and a favourite toy, poo bags and litter trays, basic first aid supplies, a pet carrier (for cats, small dogs, rabbits etc), and anything else you think your animal may need.
  • Keep a list of phone numbers for local veterinarians, animal shelters, and council animal control facilities. Many animals escape during natural disasters, having phone numbers at the ready will mean you can start the search for your animal right away.
  • If your pet requires medication, try to ensure you have extra available at all times.
  • Keep a first aid kit with basic supplies such as bandages, latex gloves, flea and worm treatment, saline solution, scissors, and tweezers.
  • Some animals such as horses, chickens, goats, and other livestock may not be able to be evacuated immediately. If you absolutely must leave any animals behind, move them to higher ground, ensure they have adequate shade and shelter, ensure they are appropriately contained or secured (never leave animals tied or chained up), and enough food and water for at least 5 days. Return to your animals as soon as possible or arrange for someone to care for them in your absence.
Remember, if where you are isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your animals!

For more information download the Ministry for Primary Industries protect your animals in an emergency guide.