Protecting Animals from Disasters
Simple tips for families moving abroad
Congratulations! You have been assigned abroad by your company and want to take your
pets. Now is the time to prepare. This flyer presents simple guidance on how to protect your
animals from disasters and civil unrest.
Talk to the Department of State: Get a security brief
and find out if it is safe to take your pets. I recommend
not placing animals in areas prone to extreme civil unrest.
What are the local Rules? Will your pets be placed in
quarantine on arrival? What conditions exist at quarantine
centers and are there fees? Will you have access? What
vaccination and medical records are required to enter or
exit your host country or the nations bordering you,
should you need to evacuate to them?
Evacuation: Disasters and political crises can occur in
any country with little warning. Assume such an event
might happen and prepare.
Pet Partners: Locate a local animal shelter, veterinarian
or a reliable friend to protect your animals when you are
on vacation or if you are evacuated. This partner might
also need to evacuate; so have more than one partner on
hand. Are there liability issues? How much will your partner charge – after all, it costs money to
feed and care for animals -- more expensive during a war. Provide copies in advance of all of your
pet records as well as information on how to locate you. Do not wait for the crisis to do this.
Family clusters work should together to develop partnerships, making it easier to move groups of
animals in a crisis. Do evacuation drills. Have more than one partner available, in case the normal
one isn’t around. Provide house keys to your partners and a letter of authority to enter in order to
care for the animals there or to move them. Local law enforcement authorities might prevent entry
without this letter, as often happened during Katrina. The letter should also provide a release for
Human Shelters Don’t Accept Animals for reasons of safety and sanitation. There is however an
evolving movement to base animal shelters near human shelters, especially in refugee situations.
Check with local authorities in advance.
How big is your pet? The bigger the pet, the more
problems you may have in time of an emergency.
Can you drive out? Where would you go? If your
town is hit by a flood, perhaps safety can be found
on high ground, but in which location? Remember
that everyone in your town might also flee to the
same spot or take the same route. Consult with
your Embassy’s security office. Test routes and do
drills in high traffic conditions. When doing the
drill, make sure you include supplies for people and
animals, accounting for delays.
Will the Your Diplomatic Facility or Your
Company Allow Pets on their grounds? Rare and usually not practical’ but find out.
Moving Pets across the Border In an evacuation, it may be impossible to fly your pets out or to
go by ship because the airfields and ports are out of commission or because of military evacuation
rules. Although the handling of animal evacuations by the military in domestic disasters is
evolving, generally you can’t take your animals unless you have a commercial carrier. Talk to
carriers in advance and learn their rules and remember that in a fast moving event, rules change.
When the Russians invaded Kabul, many pets were euthanized because they were not allowed on
planes and because local citizens would harm the pets. What are the entry rules for animals in the
new country? Don’t wait for a crisis to learn the facts and take action.
Rescue Alert Sticker: Check with your Embassy. Such stickers are used widely in North
America to alert emergency personnel about what kind of animals are in a home; but in some
environments the sticker may encourage robberies or those wishing to do harm to your pet.
Emergency Supplies and Traveling Kits When the crisis occurs, assume it will be impossible to
obtain pet supplies.
1. One month’s supply of non-perishable food and medicine. This will help you or your
pet partner in an evacuation. Remember, they might also be protecting other animals.
Don’t assume they have enough supplies. Also don’t forget the humans. Make sure they
have enough water. Because food and water can spoil (the later because of the container),
rotate stowed supplies once a month.
2. Records: Keep all ownership and medical records (including recent photos) in a water-
proof container at home and in the office. Make sure your pet partners have up-to-date
3. Crates: One per pet. Make sure they are the right size and clean of dust.
4. Toys and Blankets: Try to supply your pet’s favorites; but at a minimum one blanket per
pet. Blankets are also useful for grabbing hold of a scared animal, protecting both of you.
5. Collars or microchips: Pets should wear collars indoors and outside at all times. I also
recommends micro-chipping all pets.
6. The toilet: Leashes for dogs, extra sand boxes and sand for cats. Appropriate material for
birds and other animals.
7. Safe Room: Sometimes it is best to stay in your home during a crisis, for example if a
tornado is about to hit. Find rooms without windows and a location free from flooding; but
also consider ventilation, sanitation and that you may not have water or electricity for an
extended period. Have flashlights (with extra batteries) and windup radios. Fill all sinks
and bathtubs with cool water. Note: Windup radios can often be obtained through the
national Red Cross Red Crescent office and provide access to Am/FM and shortwave with
For questions, contact Larry
Remember, your pet is your
responsibility. Only you can
keep him or her out of harm’s
Make a plan, prepare your
materials and partnerships and
then exercise the plan.