Animals

Nine Tips to Protect Your Pets in a Disaster

San Diego County residents know the importance of being prepared for disasters after the firestorms of 2003 and 2007, but are your pets included in those all important plans? 

“It’s not a question of if another disaster will strike, but rather when a disaster will strike San Diego County,” said County Animal Services Director Dawn Danielson.  “As part of National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day today, we strongly encourage people to have a plan in place that includes your pets.”

As the lead agency in any disaster, the Department of Animal Services suggests you include all of the following in your pet disaster plan:

  • A pre-designated place outside of the disaster area where you and your pets can stay such as a friend or relative’s home or a pet-friendly hotel.
  • Crates for all of your pets that are large enough for them to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably inside.
  • Identification tags on your pets, a license tag for dogs and an ID tag for cats.
  • Microchip your pets and register the microchips with Animal Services and the microchip company.
  • Current photographs of you with your pets.
  • Leashes, collars, bowls and toys for each pet.
  • Current veterinary records and medications for each animal.
  • Food, water and litter for up to seven days.
  • For livestock, make sure you have a trailer large enough to move the animals out of harm’s way.

Practice your plan! It takes longer than you think to round up all of your animals and get them safely in the car. If disaster strikes, don’t wait for an evacuation order. If you fear you and your pets are in danger, leave your house and take them with you.

RELATED: Have you downloaded the County’s Emergency app?

If you’re away from home during a disaster, call Animal Services’ 24-hour Emergency Dispatch line at (619) 236-2341. An officer will be sent to your home to rescue your pet.

For more information, visit the Animal Services Pet Disaster Plan web page. If your school, group or business would like an animal control officer to give a presentation on disaster preparedness, contact Deputy Director Dan DeSousa at (619) 498-2308.

Watch a video on the importance of microchipping pets as part of emergency preparedness.

Tracy DeFore is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact