Are you and your pets prepared?
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Media Contact:

Margie Smith-Simmons
[317] 327-1396 
Are you and your pets prepared?

INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis Animal Care & Control wants to make sure that you and your pets are prepared in case of an emergency.  One of the shelter’s goals is to provide Marion County residents with accurate and timely information to assist everyday living.

The events of 9/11 brought the issue of emergency pet preparedness to the forefront.  The ASPCA, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a pioneer in the animal welfare industry and the leader of the nationwide emergency pet preparedness initiative, developed the following steps you can take to ensure that you and your pets are well prepared:

Step 1 Rescue Alert Sticker
This easy-to-use sticker will let people know that pets are inside your home.  The sticker must be visible to rescue workers and should contain:

  • The types and number of pets in your household.
  • The name of your veterinarian.
  • Your veterinarian's phone number.
  • Contact your local pet store to determine if they carry rescue alert stickers.

Step 2 Arrange a Safe Haven 
Arrange a safe haven for your pets in the event of evacuation. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND. If you do, they may be at risk for injury or even worse. Red Cross disaster shelters will not accept pets due to health and safety regulations. So it is imperative that you have determined where you will bring your pets ahead of time.

  • Contact your veterinarian for a list of preferred boarding kennels and facilities for use in the event of an emergency.
  • Check with your local animal shelter to determine if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets.
  • Identify hotels or motels outside of your immediate area that accept pets.
  • Ask friends and relatives outside your immediate area if they would be willing to take in your pet. 

Step 3 Emergency supplies and traveling kit

Keep an emergency kit handy for your pets. This kit should contain the following:

  • Pet first-aid kit and guide book.
  • Canned (pop-top) or dry food.
  • Disposable litter tray (aluminum roasting pans are perfect).
  • Litter or paper towels.
  • Pet feeding dishes.
  • Extra leash.
  • Photocopies of medical records and a waterproof container with a two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires. (Remember that food and medications need to be rotated out of your emergency kit otherwise they will go bad or become useless.)
  • Bottled
  • A pet traveling bag or sturdy carrier, ideally for each pet.
  • Flashlight.
  • Blanket (for scooping up a fearful pet).
  • Photos of your pets (in case you are separated and need to make "Lost" posters).

Step 4 Choose "Designated Caregivers"

This is something that should take considerable time and thought. You should make plans for a temporary home for your pets in the event of an emergency as well as arrangements for a permanent home in the event you can no longer care for your pet.

When choosing a temporary caregiver consider someone who lives close to your residence. He or she should be someone who is generally home during the day while you are at work or has easy access to your home. A set of keys should be given to this trusted individual. This may work well with a neighbor who has pets of his or her own. You may even swap responsibilities depending upon who has accessibility.

When choosing a permanent caregiver other criteria should be considered. This is a person to whom you are entrusting the care of your pet in the event that something should happen to you. When selecting this "foster parent," consider people who have met your pet and have successfully cared for animals in the past. Be sure to discuss your expectations at length with a permanent caregiver so he or she understands the responsibility of caring for your pet.

Additionally, you will want to provide a trust for your pet's financial future. Unlike a will, a trust provides for your pet immediately, and can apply not only if you die, but if you become disabled. You may designate your permanent caregiver as the trustee, or choose a separate person to be the trustee of the funds that you have set aside for your pet's care.

Step 5 Evacuation Preparation

Time is of the essence when you must evacuate your home in a crisis.  To minimize evacuation time, take these simple steps:

  • Store an emergency kit and leashes as close to an exit as possible.
  • Make sure all pets are collared with up-to-date identification. Your pet's ID tag should contain his name, telephone number, and any urgent medical needs.
  • Microchip your pet for the most permanent identification.
  • Always bring pets indoors at the first sign or warning of a storm or disaster. Pets can become disoriented and wander away from home during a crisis.
  • Consider your evacuation route and call ahead to make arrangements for boarding your pet outside of the danger zone at the first sign of disaster.

Step 6 Geographic and Climatic Consideration

You may live in an area that is prone to certain natural catastrophes, such as tornadoes, earthquakes or floods. If so, you should plan accordingly.

  • Locate rooms well in advance that offer safe havens. Select rooms that are clear of hazards such as windows, flying debris, etc.
  • Choose easy-to-clean areas such as utility rooms, bathrooms, and basements as safe zones.
  • Access to a supply of fresh water is particularly important. In areas that may lose electricity, fill up bathtubs and sinks ahead of time to ensure that you have access to water during a power outage and other more foreseeable crises.
  • In the event of flooding, look for the highest location in your home, or for a room with access to counters or high shelves where your animals can take shelter.

About other pets


  • Birds should be transported in a secure travel cage or carrier.
  • In cold weather, make certain you have a blanket over the cage. This may also help reduce the stress of traveling.
  • In warm weather, carry a spray bottle to moisten your bird's feathers periodically.
  • Have photos available and leg bands on for identification.
  • If the carrier does not have a perch, line it with paper towels and change those frequently.
  • Keep the carrier in as quiet an area as possible.
  • It is particularly imperative that birds eat on a daily basis, so purchase a timed feeder. If you need to leave your bird unexpectedly, the feeder will ensure its daily feeding schedule.


  • Snakes may be transported in a pillowcase, but you should have permanent and secure housing for them when they reach a safe place.
  • Take a bowl of water with you that is large enough for soaking, and also bring a heating pad.
  • Lizards should be transported like birds.


  • Animals such as hamsters, gerbils, mice, guinea pigs, etc., should be transported in secure carriers with bedding materials, food and food bowls.
    Although it is impossible to prepare for every emergency that may occur, it is important to take as many steps that we can to protect our companion animals.  For additional information please call Indianapolis Animal Care & Control at 317.327.1396.