Upper West Side CERT

Talking Points for People with Pets and Service Animals

Service dogIf you have ever loved an animal, you can imagine how devastating it would be to find yourself and your pet separated by a fire or flood. We all remember the heartbreaking images of abandoned pets in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which raged across the southeastern United States in 2005.

In the ensuing years, communities and emergency service organizations have worked to mitigate the effects that disasters can have on people and their animal companions. However, the most important element in disaster readiness is and always will be individual responsibility — being prepared.

This is Part 3 and our final installment of Ready New York Talking Points for People with Disabilities. It is intended for all pet owners, with or without a disability.

Make A Plan

  • Your pet is a part of the family and should be included in your emergency plan.
  • Your pet needs a Go Bag, too! It should contain all the supplies you would need for them in an emergency.
  • Pets, service animals, and therapy animals are allowed to shelter with their owners in any City emergency shelter. Animal and owner must be kept together.
  • In the event that you need to evacuate, think about where you would go with your pet and how you would get there.
  • Arrange for family or friends outside the affected area to shelter your pet; identify animal-friendly hotels outside the area.
  • If you use a service animal, be prepared to reach out to your support network in the event your service animal is stressed and unable to assist.
  • Speak with your local veterinarian or kennel to see if it can offer safe shelter.
  • Practice your evacuation routes to familiarize yourself and your service animal with the process.
  • If evacuating via public transportation, know that pets in carriers are allowed on the MTA; pets too large to fit into carriers will be allowed provided they are muzzled, leashed, and controlled.
  • Some emergencies may not allow you to travel home to get your pets; identify and make arrangements with a trusted neighbor or pet sitter to care for your pet in the event you cannot go home.
  • Know your pet’s hiding places so you can easily find it during an emergency; share this information with anyone who may need to rescue or care for pet in your absence.
  • Place stickers on the main entrance to your home to alert rescue workers of the number and types of pets inside. Update the information on the stickers every six months.

Gather Supplies

  • A current color photo of you and your pet or service animal in the event that you are separated.
  • A written physical description of your pet, including any distinguishing marks or characteristics.
  • Copies of your pet’s medical records, which should include dates of vaccinations and a list of any medications they are taking.
  • Proof of pet identification and ownership, and microchip information.
  • An animal first aid kit containing flea and tick treatment and any other items recommended by your veterinarian.
  • Food, water and dishes for your pet or service animal. If you use canned food, include a can opener.
  • Any necessary cleaning supplies.
  • A collapsible cage or carrier.
  • Your pet’s muzzle and leash.
  • A cotton sheet to place over your pet’s carrier to keep them calm.
  • Comforting toys and treats.
  • A litter pan and scoop for your cat.
  • Plastic bags to clean up after your animals.

Stay Informed

  • The Ready NY Pets Preparedness Guide is available in thirteen different languages and audio format. www.nyc.gov/readyny
  • The City has an emergency plan for pets called the Disaster Animal Response Plan, which covers co-sheltering pets with their owners, reunification, adoption, fostering and emergency veterinary care.
  • NYC Emergency Management leads the Animal Planning Task Force. The mission is to support the health and safety needs of people and their animals in emergencies and to educate the public with regard to emergency preparedness for their animals.


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