Animals in Disaster -- Lost and Found Livestock and Pets

The Missing Pet Network 
PetShelter Network HSUS Lost Pet Locator
FEMA: Animals And Emergencies
FEMA - Library - Animals and Emergencies Room
Florida Animal Disaster Planning Advisory Committee - ADPAC
ADPAC - Guidelines and Tips For Community Animals Disaster Planning
American Humane Association - AHA
AHA - Animal Protection Division
AHA - Rescuers trained for Emergency Animal Relief
United Animal Nations
USDA - Missing Animals by State and Country and MPN members
USDA The Animal Welfare Act
USDA APHIS Animal Care
Humane Society of the United States -_HSUS
HSUS - Animal Disaster Relief
VMAT-1 VMAT teams provide veterinary assistance in disasters
Animal Dot Com
American Red Cross - Disaster Services - Pets and Disasters: Get Prepared
American Pet Association
Florida Division of Animal Industry Emergency Support Function 17 Animal Protection - FDAI
FDAI - ESF 17 - DART Training
FDAI Emergency Support Function 17 Tips for Animal Protection
American Society for the Prevention of Cuelty to Animals - ASPCA
ASPCA - National Animal Poison Control Center
The Horse Review Animal Disaster Preparedness Directory 
California Department of Food And Agriculture
CDFA - Animal Disaster Preparedness
CDFA - California Animal Response in Emergency System (CARES) Fact Sheet
CDFA - County Animal Disaster Preparedness and Response Planning Guide
Cat Fanciers' Association:  Disaster Relief
The American Veterinary Medical Association - AVMA
AVMA - Care for Pets Home Page
AVMA - Pet Poison Guide
IFAW: International Fund for Animal Welfare
United Animal Nations
NIH Resources Disaster Response
The Disaster Center Lost and Found Animals Message Forum
The Disaster Center

The impact of the disasters on pets and other animals is often far more devastating than the impact of the disaster on the human population in the disaster area.  Animals are not allowed in shelters, and their owners often have no time to make other arrangements for their pets safety and security before the disaster strikes.  After departing from the area of the disaster, the animal owners will often try to re-enter the now secured area of the disaster, only to be stopped by law enforcement personnel whose job it is to prevent people from entering the disaster area.   The survival of a beloved pet or valuable livestock then will often depend on the plans that it's owner has made in advance.

Your pets and livestock should have a collar, with tags; or a permanent ID such as a microchip implant or tattoo.

If you use a collar and tags make sure that the tag has your current contact information and a rabies tag.  A rabies tag is very important because your pet may be put to death if a rabies alert is issued and it is found as a stray without a tag.

If you have to leave your animals behind, set aside at least a five day supply of food and water.  Check our links for sites that provide specific information for your pet or livestock.

If you have lost your pet as a result of a disaster we invite you to post a description on the animal on our lost and found message forum.
After a disaster first look for your animals around your home.  The animal may be traumatized by the disaster and as a result may be hiding.  Take a flash light with you, and (if your home is safe to enter) perform a systematic search for the animal looking in all spaces that the animal may fit into.

If you do not find your pet, place some dirty laundry around the outside of your home. This may sound a little strange, but your animal knows you as much by your smell as anything else.

Most lost pets will not travel more than a hundred and fifty yards away from your home. Your strategy should be to produce a flyer containing:

  • A description of the pet ( include color, markings, age, weight, size, and sex)
  • The name of the pet
  • Your name and contact information
  • The location and date the animal was last seen ( use a general description of the area (don't give out your address!))
  • Indicate if a reward is being offered
  • And a photo of the animal.
  • Take copies of the flyer with you and visit the homes in your neighborhood calling out the name of your pet as you go.  Knock on the doors of these houses and ask if the resident has seen the animal and to hand out copies of the flyer.  If they are not home leave a copy of the flyer at the house.

    Many newspapers will place a lost or found notice in the newspaper for free.

    If some one calls claiming to have found your pet, take care.  Some people try to advantage of situations like this.  Unfortunately it is not uncommon that an individual will try to take advantage of the situation by contacting you long disatance and indicating that they need money to send your pet back home to you.

    Never go alone to meet anyone who may claim to have found your pet.

    Report the lost pet to your local animal shelter and ask them about the holding time for pets.  You will want to visit the shelter in person before the pet may be euthanized.  Also visit local veterinarian offices, and place copies of the flyer in other locations visited by the public, such as grocery stores, and laundry mats.

    After a disaster, shelters will be set up to house found animals.  Visit these shelters in person to look for your lost pet or livestock.  Bring a photo of the animal or other proof of ownership.  Many web sites will be set up after a disaster to assist people in locating missing animals.

    Email The Disaster Center to let us know the locations of any shelters, or about any web sites set up before or after a disaster to house animals or post lost and found messages.

    If you find a pet or livestock, post a message to our Lost and Found message board, and report the lost animal to the local animal control agency.

    Consider holding the animal for animal control to pick up, or take the animal to the local shelter, if you can safely approach the animal.  If you decide to care for  a lost animal, make efforts to locate the animals owner as you would, if it was your own lost pet.

    Many animals are never claimed by their owners, whose lives have been affected by disasters.  Consider pet adoption after disasters.

    Many pets and livestock are never found by their owners after a disaster. They may have been found dead, and their bodies buried to prevent the spread of diseases.  For some people the loss of a family pet following a disaster can be a traumatic event which should be cause their family and friends to be as concerned about their well being as they would be if a friend had lost a family member.  The Disaster Center has a trauma web page to help deal with the grieving process.

    Don't forget to make your plans for dealing with disaster!

    See our The "Standard" Family Disaster Plan web pages


    The Disaster Center