Disaster & Emergency Preparedness for Pet Owners

​​​​​Hurricanes, floods, wildfires, hazardous material spills—disasters can strike anytime, anywhere. If you think you will never have to evacuate because you don’t live in a flood plain, you may be tragically mistaken. It is imperative that you make preparations to evacuate your family and your pets in any situation. In the event of a disaster, proper preparation will pay off with the safety of your family and pets.  Review an informational pamphlet and checklist for creating an emergency plan for your pet(s).

If You Evacuate, Take Your Pets!

The single most important thing you can do to protect your pets is to take them with you when you evacuate. Animals left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Animals left inside your home can escape through storm-damaged areas, such as broken windows. Animals turned loose to fend for themselves are likely to become victims of exposure, starvation, predators, contaminated food or water, or accidents. Leaving dogs tied or chained outside in a disaster is a death sentence.

If you leave, even if you think you may be gone only for a few hours, take your animals. Once you leave, you have no way of knowing how long you'll be kept out of the area, and you may not be able to go back for your pets.

 
Leave early—don't wait for a mandatory evacuation order. An unnecessary trip is far better than waiting too long to leave safely with your pets. If you wait to be evacuated by emergency officials, you may be told to leave your pets behind.
 

Don't Forget ID

Your pets should be wearing up-to-date identification at all times. It's a good idea to include the phone number of a friend or relative outside your immediate area—if your pet is lost, you'll want to provide a number on the tag that will be answered even if you're out of your home.
 

Find a Safe Place Ahead of Time

Because evacuation shelters generally don't accept pets (except for service animals), you must plan ahead to ensure that your family and pets will have a safe place to stay. Don't wait until disaster strikes to do your research.
 
Contact hotels and motels outside your immediate area to check policies on accepting pets. Ask about any restrictions on number, size, and species. Ask if "no pet" policies would be waived in an emergency. Make a list of animal-friendly places and keep it handy. Call ahead for a reservation as soon as you think you might have to leave your home.  A list of pet-friendly hotels can be found online at www.petswelcome.com.
 
Check with friends, relatives, or others outside your immediate area. Ask if they would be able to shelter you and your animals or just your animals, if necessary. If you have more than one pet, you may have to be prepared to house them separately.

Make a list of boarding facilities and veterinary offices that might be able to shelter animals in emergencies; include 24-hour telephone numbers.
 
Virginia Beach Animal Control has capabilities to operate an emergency pet shelter(s) if and when the City of Virginia Beach activates human emergency shelters or under the direction of City leadership and the Office of Emergency Management.   It should be noted that space is limited.  It is recommended that each family make a plan for their entire family, including each household pet. Use of emergency shelters, be it human or pet, should be used as a last resort and not part of a family's disaster plan. 
 
Potential locations for emergency pet shelters include:
  • Virginia Beach Care and Adoption Center located at 341 S. Birdneck Road.
    • This facility, if activated, will be available only to those pets whose family are under mandatory evacuation orders.
  • External location(s):
    • An emergency pet shelter, external to ACAC, or additional side-by-side human/pet shelters to receive public pets will not activate until given approval by the City leadership. Additionally, this site will only be available for pet whose owners are staying in an activated human emergency shelter located adjacently. Owners utilizing this service will be required to provide animal care of their personal pets at the adjacent facility.
      • Great Neck Recreation Center (emergency pet shelter): coincides with Cox High School (human shelter)
​The  Virginia Beach SPCA located at 3040 Holland Road will only accept pets owned by a City of Virginia Beach First Responder in the event of a storm. ​ 

Emergency Pet Trailer

An emergency pet sheltering supplies trailer, donated to the City in 2011 was obtained via a grant from the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission under the Hampton Roads Urban Areas Security Initiative.

 
This asset and equipment will serve to address unique multi-disciplinary planning, organization, equipment, training, and exercise needs of Hampton Roads, and assist in building and sustaining capabilities to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from threats or acts of terrorism.

 
The use of the trailer will be prioritized and restricted as follows:
  • Disaster event in Virginia Beach
    The need to open an emergency pet shelter will be in conjunction with City leadership's decision to provide a human shelter option.
  • Disaster event in region-mutual aid availability

If You Don't Evacuate

If your family and pets must wait out a storm or other disaster at home, identify a safe area of your home where you can all stay together.
Keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers, and make sure they are wearing identification.
Have any medications and a supply of pet food and water inside watertight containers, along with your other emergency supplies.

As the Disaster Approaches

  • Don't wait until the last minute to get ready. Warnings of hurricanes or other disasters may be issued hours, or even days, in advance.
  •  Call to confirm emergency shelter arrangements for you and your pets.
  •  Bring pets into the house and confine them so you can leave with them quickly if necessary. Make sure each pet and pet carrier has up-to-date identification and contact information. Include information about your temporary shelter location.
  •  Make sure your disaster supplies are ready to go, including your pet disaster kit.​

In Case You're Not Home

  • ​An evacuation order may come, or a disaster may strike, when you're at work or out of the house.

Contact Information