Orange County Government, Florida

Disaster Preparedness
for Pets


Orange County Animal Services urges residents to begin making preparations for an active hurricane season. For those with pets, preparation needs to start today.

It is important for pet owners to have a written disaster plan that includes their pets. Under no circumstances should people leave their pets behind.

The Division recommends pet owners begin making arrangements for a place to stay in the event of an evacuation. Orange County Government offers four pet-friendly shelters. Locations will be announced by the Office of Emergency Management as storms approach. In addition, lists of hotels that accept pets can easily be found online.

Do not wait until a disaster strikes to begin researching. Start now and have several evacuation options for your family and pets.

To help prepare your pets for hurricane season, Orange County Animal Services offers these tips:

Getting Ready

First, schedule an appointment to talk to your pet's veterinarian about planning for a disaster. Ensure your pet's vaccinations are up to date and secure a copy of the pet's medical records.

Assemble a "Pet Disaster Kit." The kit and supplies should be stored in an accessible location in the event that someone else has to transport your pet. Keep the kit updated and available. Suggested items include:

  • 1 gallon zipper storage bag to hold the contents.
  • Sandwich-size bags for pet treats and a small toy.
  • Pet Health Record. (each pet should display a current rabies tag at all times)
  • Current picture of your pet (also include a picture of you and your pet) with your name address and phone numbers.
  • Collar and leash for dogs, and an adjustable collar for cats.
  • An extra identification tag.
  • Any special information on your pet.

Since you may not be home when an evacuation order is announced, find a trusted friend who is willing to take your pets and meet you at a prearranged location. This person should be comfortable with your pets, know where the pets should be, know where your disaster supplies and kits are located, and have a key to your home. Share your plan with friends and relatives.

If forced to evacuate your home, your pet should NOT be left behind. As the disaster approaches, bring all pets in the house so that you won't have to search for them if you have to leave in a hurry. Pets are not permitted in Red Cross shelters (except for working dogs for people with special needs). Plan to go to a friend or relative's home, or a hotel/motel where your pet is welcome.

Disaster Supplies
for Pets

  • Pet carrier or crate for each pet, sized appropriately so your pet can stand and turn around comfortably. Write your name, address and phone number on the carrier and include additional contact information for someone outside the area.
  • Two-week supply of pet food, water, medications, and a manual can opener.
  • Food and water bowls.
  • Litter and a litter box.
  • Newspapers, plastic bags, cleaner and disinfectants to handle pet waste.
  • A cotton sheet to cover the carrier or crate to keep the pet calm.
  • First-Aid Kit. Ask your veterinarian for the supplies appropriate for your pet.

Transport birds in a secure travel carrier. Cover the carrier to provide the pet with additional security. During warm weather, use a plant mister to mist the bird's feathers. Provide fresh fruits and vegetables with high water content. Practice good hygiene by keeping the cage floor clean. Keep the carrier in a quiet area.

Small Pets
Small mammals (hamsters, gerbils, etc.) should be transported in secure carriers suitable for housing the animals while sheltered. Take bedding, food, bowls and water bottles.

Snakes can be transported in a pillowcase, placed inside a secure carrier. If your snakes require frequent feedings, carry food with you. Take a water bowl large enough for soaking and a heating pad. Follow the same transporting instructions as for birds.

After the Disaster

  • The disaster will have altered your pet's normal scent markers and may cause them to get lost. Stay with them when they are outdoors.
  • Your pet will probably be disoriented and frightened. Be patient and understanding; the situation is just as traumatic to them as to you.
  • Consult your veterinarian if any behavior or physical problems persist.
  • Be aware of fallen power lines, scattered debris, flooding and misplaced wildlife, all of which can be a danger to your pet.

Contact Us

Orange County Animal Services
Pet Rescue & Adoption Center
2769 Conroy Road
Orlando, FL. 32839-2162

Phone: (407) 836-3111

All e-mail sent to this address becomes part of Orange County public record. Comments received by our e-mail subsystem can be read by anyone who requests that privilege. In compliance with "Government in the Sunshine" laws, Orange County Government must make available, at request, any and all information not deemed a threat to the security of law enforcement agencies and personnel.