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Evacuation Information


Download the Pet Emergency Planning Guide

Pets are treated like family members in many households across the country.  According to a 2010 report, 53% of Chatham County residents have pets and nearly all of those residents do plan to take their pets with them if they ever have to evacuate.  Still, post-evacuation research shows that some people will not evacuate because they don't want to leave to their pets. 

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Chatham Emergency Management Agency has an evacuation plan in place for pets.  If you rely on public transportation during an evacuation, CEMA's evacuation plan will accommodate your pets.  You can also find out which motels and hotels in your area allow pets -- well in advance of needing them.  Our printable Pet Emergency Planning Guide has answers to any questions regarding what to do with you animal during an emergency.  You'll also find a list of PET FRIENDLY hotels.  The one thing to remember, NEVER leave your pet behind if you evacuate.  While they may be able to survive, they may never find you when you come back.   


CEMA also recommends when you prepare to leave with your pet, prepare a pet disaster kit.  Here are some items that we recommend you pack:

• Extra collars and tags, harnesses and leashes for all pets (including cats).

• Make sure identification tags are up to date and securely fastened to your pet's collar. If possible, attach the address and/or phone number of your evacuation site. If your pet gets lost, his tag is his ticket home.

• Muzzles may be needed to control agitated and aggressive animals -- for dogs, these can be made from gauze rolls   or panty hose. A muzzle or towel can be used for cats. A towel can be used to restrain your bird if it becomes agitated and aggressive during the confusion.

• Your pet's usual pet food to avoid diet changes in stressful situations. A five to seven day supply is recommended.

• Toys or blankets your pet will find familiar.

• A manual can opener, if your pet eats canned food

• A supply of stored drinking water. If you are evacuating, you will need only enough water to reach your evacuation destination.

• Food and water bowls for each pet.

• A litter box and extra kitty litter. 

• Paper towels, plastic bags and spray disinfectant for animal waste clean up.

• Copies of your pet's medical and vaccination records. Boarding facilities may not accept your pets without proof of health.

• If your pet is on medication, ask your veterinarian about keeping extra supplies of medication or a copy of the prescription for these medications in your kit. Mark your calendar to replace medications before they expire.

• Include a recent photo of your pet. A photo of you with your pet is even better.

• A secure pet crate which should be easily accessible and large enough for your pet to stand up and turn around. Since animals may be sheltered in open facilities, make sure there is enough bedding to keep them warm. You should also label the crate with your pet's name, your name and where you can be reached.

•Include your local animal shelter's number in your list of emergency numbers -- they might be able to provide information concerning pets during a disaster.

• A first aid kit should include only materials that you know how to use. Remember that if your pet has a problem and you do not know exactly what it is, you should consult a veterinarian. Useful items for a first aid kit for pets include:
• Bandaging materials to cover wounds
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• Clippers
• Latex gloves
• Tweezers

Your pet's health:
To minimize ill health effects of a disaster, make sure your pet's vaccinations are current. Most vaccinations are repeated yearly. Rabies is repeated every year in Georgia. Shelters, boarding kennels and many hotels/motels require that dogs be protected against bordetella (kennel cough) as well.

Special recommendations for birds:

• Determine if your birds need a continuous supply of power. Purchase a generator to meet your facilities' needs. Make sure your generator is in good running condition by starting it monthly.

• Make sure you have a sufficient water supply. Large water containers with chlorinated water (10 drops of chlorine bleach to each gallon of water) can be used to store water that prohibits bacterial growth. Store water away from sunlight.

• Aviaries should be equipped with an overhead sprinkler system. This will be very important to minimize smoke inhalation, cool the air and reduce the chance of burn injuries.

• Aviculturists should have enough carriers on hand to evacuate all birds. Many birds will run into their nest boxes during a crisis. Nest boxes should be equipped with quick-release latches and a hinge-type cover over the entrance to enable you to remove the nest box and use it as a pet carrier. Flights should be constructed with easy access into and out of them.

• Birds often require specialty foods. Make sure you know what these are and where you can get them. Although surplus food can often be refrigerated, this may not be possible in a disaster, when the power supply is out.

• If vaccinations are appropriate for your bird, be sure they are up-to-date. Consult your veterinarian to learn which vaccinations are appropriate.

• Birds should be tested and free of psittacosis and tuberculosis. These are serious diseases and are transmissible to many other animals and people.

• Do not leave your birds where they can be exposed to fumes from fires or chemicals. Birds are sensitive to smoke and fumes and succumb quicker to smoke than most other animals.

Special Recommendations for wildlife:

Wild animals often seek higher ground which, during floods, eventually become submerged (i.e., island) and the animals become stranded. If the island is large enough and provides suitable shelter, you can leave food appropriate to the species (i.e., sunflower seeds for squirrels). Animals have a flight response and will flee from anyone approaching too closely. If the animal threatens to rush into the water, back away from the island or you may frighten the animal into jumping into the water to escape from you.

Wildlife often seek refuge from flood waters on upper levels of a home and may remain inside even after the water recedes. If you meet a rat or snake face to face, be careful but don't panic. Open a window or other escape route and the animal will probably leave on its own. Never attempt to capture a wild animal unless you have the training, protective clothing, restraint equipment and caging necessary to perform the job.

Beware of an increased number of snakes and other predators who will try to feed on the carcasses of reptiles, amphibians and small mammals who have drowned or crushed in their burrows or under rocks.

Often, during natural disasters, mosquitoes and dead animal carcasses may present disease problems. Outbreaks of anthrax, encephalitis and other diseases may occur. Contact your local emergency management office for help!
If you see an injured or stranded animal in need of assistance, or you need help with evicting an animal from your home, please contact your local animal control office or animal shelter!

Special Recommendations for livestock:

EVACUATE LIVESTOCK WHENEVER POSSIBLE. Arrangements for evacuation, including routes and host sites, should be made in advance. Alternate routes should be mapped out in case the planned route is inaccessible.
The evacuation sites should have or be able to readily obtain food, water, veterinary care, handling equipment and facilities.
Trucks, trailers, and other vehicles suitable for transporting livestock (appropriate for transporting each specific type of animal) should be available along with experienced handlers and drivers to transport them. Whenever possible, the animals should be accustomed to these vehicles in advance so they're less frightened and easier to move.

If evacuation is not possible, a decision must be made whether to move large animals to available shelter or turn them outside. This decision should be determined based on the type of disaster and the soundness and location of the shelter (structure). All animals should have some form of identification that will help facilitate their return.

Your disaster plan should include a list of emergency phone numbers for local agencies that can assist you if disaster strikes - - including your veterinarian, state veterinarian, local animal shelter, animal care and control, county extension service, local agricultural schools and the American Red Cross. These numbers should be kept with your disaster kit in a secure, but easily accessible place.


When the disaster has passed, it is not uncommon to find that once familiar surroundings have been rearranged. Pets that rely on visual and olfactory (scent) cues may become disoriented.

Here are some guidelines that may help you through the recovery period:

• Check your pet for injury and exposure to chemicals. If you have any concerns about the health of your pet or their exposure to hazardous materials, contact a veterinarian before you attempt to treat them.

• If you have to move to new surroundings, do not remove your pet from its crate until it is calm. Do so only in a closed room.

• Be careful in allowing your cat or dog out after a major disaster. Follow the recommendations of the emergency management personnel as to whether the environment is safe for you and your pet.

• Give your pet small amounts of food and water several times throughout the day. The volumes of food may be increased to normal over three to four days.

• Let your pet have plenty of uninterrupted sleep. If you still have your pet's favorite toys, encourage them to play. This will allow them to recover from the stress and trauma.

• Avoid unfamiliar activities with your pet, such as bathing, excessive exercise, or diet supplements. Try to avoid diet changes.

• If you and your pet are separated, pay daily visits (a phone call is often not as effective) to local shelters, animal control facilities, veterinary offices and kennels until you have found it. Personnel at these facilities routinely scan for microchips and will keep chipped animals longer than those without chips. Be aware that collars and tags are sometimes lost. You might also post alerts in newspaper and online.

• If you find a stray animal, take it to a shelter or other facility set up for lost and found animals. Place an advertisement in the local newspaper and online to inform the owner where the pet was taken. Often newspapers run found ads for free.

• Share your experiences with friends and family. Talking about your experiences will help you deal with them and offers great stress relief.

• Consider seeking professional counseling, as recovery is aided when guided by professionals experienced in dealing with disasters.
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Last Updated: October 14, 2014 1:29 PM