Pets & Service Animals

A smiling couple sitting on the couch with their dog.

For many, pets are more than just animals — they are a part of the family. As members of your family, they should be included in your emergency planning process. Make sure your disaster plan addresses what you will do when an emergency requires you to leave your home, leave your pet at home, or prevents you from returning home. A few simple steps to ensure your pet's safety can go a long way when disaster strikes.

Ready New York: My Pet's Emergency Plan

Ready New York: My Pet's Emergency Plan is a workbook that outlines steps pet owners can take to ensure their pets are prepared for all types of emergencies.

Prepare Your Pet or Service Animal for Weather Emergencies

Do not forget the needs of pets and service animals when severe weather strikes.

During extreme heat:

  • Never leave pets in the car. Temperatures rise quickly even with the windows down and can be deadly for your pet. Call 911 if you see a pet or child in a hot car.
  • Be sure your pets have access to plenty of water, especially when it's hot.
  • Make sure your pet has plenty of shady places to go when outdoors.
  • Avoid exercising with your pet outside on extremely hot days.
  • Be sure your pet or service animal has plenty of food and water.

During winter or extreme cold:

  • Bring pets/service animals inside during cold weather.
  • Wipe your dog's paws: ice-melting chemicals can make your pet sick.
  • Be sure your pet or service animal has plenty of food and water.
  • If You Are Unable to Get Home to Your Pet or Service Animal

    Some emergencies may prevent you from returning home. In planning for such emergencies:

    • Identify a trusted friend, neighbor, or dog-walker to care for your pet in your absence. This person should have a set of your house keys, be familiar with your home and pet, know your emergency plan, and have your contact information.
    • Put stickers on the main entrances to your home to alert rescue workers of the number and types of pets or service animals inside. Update the information on the stickers every six months. Free Rescue Alert stickers can be ordered from the ASPCA.
    • Keep a collar/harness, leash, and your pet's/service animal's Go Bag in a place where it can be easily found.

    Proper Identification

    • Dogs and cats should wear a collar or harness, rabies tag, and identification tag at all times. Identification tags should include your name, address, and phone number, and the phone number of an emergency contact. Dogs should also wear a license. Get information on dog licensing from the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene.
    • Talk to your veterinarian, contact 311 online, or visit about microchipping your pet or service animal. A properly registered microchip enables positive identification of your pet or service animal if you and your pet/service animal are separated.
    • Current color photo of your pet or service animal (in the event it becomes lost).

    After An Emergency

    • Following an emergency, be extra careful when letting your pet or service animal loose outdoors and be sure your pet wears an identification tag.
    • Familiar scents and landmarks may have been altered, which may cause your pet/service animal to become confused or lost.
    • If your pet is lost, visit Animal Care & Control of New York City

    In addition, beware of other dangers after a disaster, such as downed power lines and debris created by strong winds or rain.

    More Resources