Preparing for Emergency Care of Your Pet

Preparing for Emergency Care of Your Pet

Tips from Animal Welfare League of Alexandria

What happens if there is a disaster and you cannot get to your pet to provide care?

Don't wait until an emergency arises; it's best to prepare now.

  • Pet identification is key. Dogs and cats should wear collars with their license tag (both dogs and cats must be licensed in the City of Alexandria) and a tag containing ID information, including your name and phone number. However, collars may be removed or fall off, so we suggest getting your pet microchipped. It is critical that you register this microchip to include your information as well as a secondary contact, and be sure to keep this information up to date. We also recommend having your veterinarian scan your pet at each visit to ensure that the microchip has not fallen out or migrated. Finally, register your pet’s microchip at; this is the site many veterinarians and shelters use to get the information connected to a microchip.
  • Prepare a Pet Care Kit. It is an excellent idea to prepare a “care kit” for your pet that is easily accessible. You can grab this kit if you need to evacuate your home quickly or with short notice. This kit can be used by you or another caregiver to provide for your animal for a period of time if something happens to you. If you register for AWLA’s “A Plan for Pets,” make sure to include instructions for where to find your pet’s care kit.
  • Access to your home. Who can get into your home to care for your pets if there is a disaster or if something happens to you? You may want to consider talking with one or more of your neighbors about what to do if a disaster strikes and you cannot return home. This caregiver should be able to access your home and know where your pet’s care kit is located.
  • Notifying emergency personnel. Consider keeping an emergency card in your wallet that informs emergency personnel that you have pet(s) at home who need care. You should include the contact information of your pet’s emergency caregiver so they can ensure your pets can receive care if something happens to you. You should also consider placing an emergency sticker on the door of your house to inform emergency responders about the presence of animals inside.

Pet "Care Kit" Checklist

Consider storing these emergency items in a bag in your pet's carrier. Be sure to write your pet's name and contact information on the carrier as well. Emergency items should include:

  • Extra collar/harness and an extra leash.
  • Temporary tags — in case you need to add a new contact number to the tag.
  • Recent photos of your pets (in case you are separated and need to make “Lost” posters); a photo of you with your pet can also be helpful for identification purposes.
  • Phone numbers/contact info for your vet and microchip company, including your pet’s microchip number.
  • Copies of important vet records, especially registration and rabies certificates.
  • Three to seven days’ worth of canned (pop-top) food; it’s best to have small cans that can be used as one meal. If you want to store dry food, make sure to rotate it from your emergency bag regularly.
  • At least seven days’ worth of bottled water for each person and pet; store in a cool, dry place and replace every two months.
  • Your pet’s medications; ask your veterinarian for an extra prescription and rotate with the most recent medications to ensure they remain fresh and effective.
  • Disposable litter trays (aluminum roasting pans are perfect) for cats and litter or pee pads for dogs.
  • Paper towels, liquid dish soap, disinfectant cleaner.
  • Disposable garbage bags for cleanup.
  • Dog waste bags.
  • Pet feeding dishes and water bowls.
  • Blankets/towels.
  • Pillowcase for cats; these make it quick and fast to capture and transport them.
  • Written instructions for any special care needs that your pet may have.

The Animal Welfare League of Alexandria is an independent, local, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that operates the animal shelter for the City of Alexandria. The AWLA is committed to ending animal homelessness, promoting animal welfare, and serving as an educational resource for the City of Alexandria community. More information is at


Image used under license from

A dog receiving some TLC. One of the easiest ways to protect your pet in an emergency is a “care kit” containing necessary food and supplies.


Image used under license from

Comforting a cat in an emergency. Emergency care kits should include documents to aid in the identification and care of your pet.