Emergency Management

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Pets are often full-fledged members of the family, and any family emergency plan must include them to be truly complete. Many shelters will not permit animals (with the exception of service animals), so it is especially important that you have a plan for your pets in case of an evacuation.

  • Make sure your pets all have licenses and ID tags.
  • Ask local shelters and animal clinics if they provide emergency foster care.
  • Arrange with neighbors to care for your pets if an emergency occurs while you are away from your home and you cannot return.
  • Know your pets’ hiding places so you can find them easily if you need to evacuate.
  • Transport pets in carriers or on leashes during an emergency; this makes them feel more secure.
  • Create an Emergency Kit for your pet including:
    • A recent photo of your pets in case they get lost
    • Sturdy leashes and/or carriers
    • Pet food, water, and bowls
    • Cat litter and box if appropriate
    • Pet toys
    • Contact information for a veterinarian
    • Medical information and records
    • Any necessary medication
    • Plastic bags for clean-up

Here are some guidelines that may help your pet 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 your 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 interuptted sleep. If you still have your pet's favorite toys, encouarge 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 to local shelters, animal control facilities, veterinary offices and kennels until you have found it. A phone call is often not as effective as a visit. You can also post photos of your lost pet. If your pet has tattoos, a microchip or other permanent identification, this will increase the chances of finding it. Be aware that collars and tags are sometimes lost.
  • If your 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 to inform the owner where the pet was taken. Often newspapers run found ads for free.
  • Download this card to fill out and carry with you to alert first responders that you have a pet that may be home alone and will need care if you are injured or deceased. 


Contact Us

Polk County Emergency Management
1907 Carpenter Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50314
(515) 286-2107

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