Helping individuals and families with pets prepare for emergencies can be especially challenging. Having pets once posed a significant barrier to human safety, because pet owners refused to abandon their animals and stayed put in dangerous environments. As this issue has come to the forefront in the last decade, a major policy shift has occurred and now New York City permits companion animals at all evacuation centers during large-scale emergencies. Pets can also be transported on all forms of public transportation at these times. It remains important for social workers and direct care workers to help individuals and families plan and prepare – not just for humans at risk, but for their animals as well.

 

What Social Workers Can Do

  • Encourage pet owners to organize a “Go Bag” for themselves and their pets: www.nyc.gov/html/oem/html/get_prepared/preparedness_pets.shtml

  • Ask about securing an emergency contact for pet welfare (a veterinary office or boarding facility)
  • Document the pet in your agency chart, including pet information and a photograph, if possible
  • Refer pet owners to low-cost pet clinics so their animals can be vaccinated, microchipped, and licensed
  • Review evacuation protocol so pet owners know where to evacuate (and potentially include alternatives to evacuation centers, such as pet-friendly hotels)
  • Help pet owners secure necessary items for pets (including a muzzle, carrier or crate, and basic supplies)
  • Provide a folder or envelope for all important documents to remain together

 

Tips and Tools

Be Prepared with a Pet Go Bag

Selecting a Temporary Caretaker