Prepare pets for an emergency

Michelle Mowad

County of San Diego Communications Office

Is it possible to evacuate in 15 minutes or less? With everything needed for pets, as well? Just as people prepare their family for a disaster, the same should be done for their pets. Planning is the key to emergency preparedness for all.

The San Diego County Office of Emergency Services and Department of Animal Services recommend that residents prepare and practice a disaster plan with all family members and assemble emergency supplies ahead of time. Household pet necessities include a supply of food and water, a crate or carrier, leash, medicines, copy of current veterinary records and several recent photographs of the four-legged or feathered friend.

See the full list of items that should be in each of pets’ emergency kit at

Make sure each pet is wearing a collar with identification and an emergency contact. Having an ID on an animal may help reunite them with the family in the event of separation.

Another safeguard is microchipping, in case the pet loses its collar. Microchipping is available at almost every animal shelter or veterinarian. Animal Services also recommends that registering the pet with Finding Rover at The online tool uses facial recognition to help reunite lost pets with their owners.

Anyone who must evacuate their home during an emergency should not leave their pets behind. It may not be possible to return to the home or animal enclosure for an extended period of time. In addition, structural damage to the home or animal enclosure may allow the pet to escape or to permit other animals or the natural elements to enter and hurt the pet.

Be prepared to quickly evacuate with pets. If an evacuation seems possible, do it earlier rather than later. Do not wait until the last minute.

With these simple preparations, the entire family can be ready for the unexpected including wildfires, earthquakes, flooding or other emergencies.

In addition, Animal Services has emergency preparedness recommendations for livestock owners at Moving horses and other large animals takes time and practice. Being prepared is the best plan.

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