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Disaster Preparedness for Animal Owners

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Southern California is subject to a number of different natural disasters such as wildfire, floods and earthquakes. Other emergencies such as power outages, extreme temperatures, and other events can disrupt normal activities. The best way to protect your pets is to ensure you are prepared for these situations.

During a disaster, you may be asked to evacuate your home for days, weeks, or even permanently. Do not leave your pets behind. While OC Animal Care may be able to assist during emergencies, the safety and care of pets is ultimately the owner’s responsibility. Be prepared and protect your pets by adding them to your evacuation plans. 

Don’t know where to start? OC Animal Care designed infographics with animal owners in mind to help with evacuation planning and ensure your pets remain safe during disasters and emergencies. Please note, it’s particularly important special considerations be made for horses and other large animals.

While OC Animal Care may be able to assist in times of disaster, it’s important to understand that, ultimately, animal owners are responsible for the evacuation and sheltering of their pets. For this reason, pets should be included in your evacuation plans. Equally important is that you practice and routinely update those plans.

Some things to consider when planning are:

  • Develop an evacuation plan that includes at least two different evacuation routes.
  • To limit a pet’s stress, make sure your pets are trained to enter a crate or cage comfortably.
  • Maintain a go bag for each pet that includes vaccination and other important medical records, medications, food, and essential supplies that your animals need for daily care, etc. 

Utilize the evacuation checklists below and be prepared for any emergency that comes your way.

  • Locate evacuation sites for you and your pets outside of your immediate area. Check with friends and hotels outside of your community that would be willing to accept you and your pets. Locate boarding facilities or veterinary clinics that may be able to house your pets.
  • In times of disaster there may be heavy traffic, road closures or rapidly changing situations taking place in your area. When asked to evacuate, please do so as soon as possible and be sure take your pets with you. You may also want to consider partnering with a neighbor who can evacuate your pets in the event you are not home when an evacuation order is given.
  • While it’s important to ensure that all pets are included in your personal disaster plans, it’s particularly important that special considerations be made for horses and other large animals.  The first thing to consider is the nature of the situation and whether your horse can be safely sheltered in place.  If not, please remember that evacuating horses takes time and requires special housing arrangements.
  • Please take the time now to ensure your horse will lead and load into a trailer.  You’ll also want to ensure you have trailer space for each horse and that your trailer and towing vehicle are maintained in good working order. 
  • When evacuating horses you should do so as early as possible.  It’s important that roads are kept clear for first responders.  Maneuvering a horse trailer through tight roads where fire engines and other large vehicles are driving can present a significant challenge. 

Where will you take your large or small animals during a disaster? Create an emergency contact list using the templates below to ensure you are ready to handle any emergency situation. 

  • Checkout these links and learn more Large Animal Safety Tips. (EnglishSpanishVietnamese)

  • By implementing these tips and others found at you can help to ensure the safety of your pets