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Caring For Pets During An Emergency

During an emergency, firefighters, police and other first responders are focused on protecting people. We know, however, that many people consider their pets members of their families and will refuse to leave without them.

Though first responders are here to help pet owners and their animals, pet owners need to take responsibility for their animals by planning how they will care for them during an emergency.

Plenty of Water and Food

Severe weather and power outages occur fairly frequently in our area. Families should be prepared to get through the first three days of an emergency, including power outages. Families with pets should include their pets in their emergency plans.

Make sure you have enough food and water to see your pets through this three-day period. You should have on hand at least one gallon of water, per person, per day – and count a pet as a person.

If your pet uses medications, make sure you have an extra supply.

A Place To Stay

These preparations must involve deciding where you will take a pet during an emergency. Many shelters do not accept pets. During a large-scale disaster, Baltimore County does not have the resources to care for thousands of animals.

Emergency managers strongly recommend that you plan in advance to leave pets with friends or family or a boarding facility, or that you research hotels and motels that accept pets and where you could stay if you needed to evacuate.

During certain small-scale emergencies, Baltimore County emergency managers do have the capability to open a "pet friendly" shelter at Eastern Technical High School in Essex. This shelter allows pet owners to bring leashed and crated dogs, cats and other pets weighing less than 80 pounds (excluding exotic pets). The animals are not allowed to intermingle with human evacuees in order to protect citizens with pet allergies or a fear of animals. They will be housed elsewhere on the school site, and pet owners will be able to visit and care for them.

Supplies and Other Preparations

A supply kit for your pet is a must if you need to take your pet to a pet-friendly shelter. The kit will help you if you need to evacuate but also in case you need to get through an emergency – such as a blizzard at home – a far more likely scenario. The kit should include:

  • A leash and a carrier. A pet friendly shelter will require your animal to be leashed or crated. The pet carrier should be large enough for the animal to stand up and turn around in.
  • Pet identification. Your pet should wear an identification tag, license and rabies tag.
  • Contact information and a photo of you and your pet. The County's Animal Services will require these.
  • At least three days worth of food and plenty of extra water.
  • Extra medications, if your pet takes them.
  • Pet sanitation supplies.
  • The pet's immunization and medical records. The County's Animal Services will require these if your pet stays there during an emergency.

Your pet should be licensed, as required by County law. And consider micro-chipping; you can have your pet micro-chipped at the Animal Services in Baldwin or at a veterinary hospital.

Additional Information

The Maryland Emergency Management Agency website contains more useful information about disaster preparedness for pets and livestock.

Revised August 26, 2016         


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