After the Storm: Pets and Preparedness

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A woman with her large dog on the front porch of a house.

Kathleen Fessman did not anticipate the degree of damage that Hurricane Sandy would cause her Rockaway, New York home. She stayed in her house during the storm watching as her basement flooded, knocking over the gas tanks she had stored there. For nearly a week after the storm, Kathleen remained in her damaged home, not knowing where to take her five dogs Yogi, Java, Rainie, Katie and Mocha.

ASPCA animal inside badgeEventually, Kathleen contacted a local animal welfare agency who transported her dogs to the ASPCA Emergency Boarding Facility in Brooklyn, a facility established to shelter and care for pets displaced by Hurricane Sandy while their owners got back on their feet. At its height, the ASPCA emergency boarding facility housed nearly 280 displaced animals in New York.

Once at the ASPCA Emergency Boarding Facility, two of Kathleen’s dogs were diagnosed with enlarged lymph nodes from breathing in fumes from the gas tanks knocked over by the storm. After intensive treatment from the ASPCA medical team, the lymph nodes regressed significantly for one dog and resolved completely on the second dog.Kathleen and her dog

For months, Kathleen’s dogs were sheltered and cared for at the ASPCA Emergency Boarding Facility while her house was being repaired. Kathleen finally took her dogs home in February, more than 3 months after the storm.

As Kathleen will never forget, it’s imperative to follow evacuation orders and bring your pets with you when a disaster strikes. Don’t wait until it’s too late to find a place to shelter your pet. Not all disaster shelters accept pets, so be sure to identify a relative’s house, a pet-friendly hotel or a boarding facility outside of the evacuation zone where you will take your pet in the event of evacuation.

Here are some additional disaster preparedness tips from the ASPCA:

  • Make sure all pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date identification.
  • Microchip your pets. It may be their ticket home if they become lost.
  • Build a portable pet emergency kit with items such as medical records, water, pet food, medications and pet first aid supplies.
  • A pet rescue sticker alerts rescue personnel that pets are inside your home in the event of an emergency. Get a free rescue alert sticker from the ASPCA here:
  • Never leave your pets behind. Arrange a safe haven for your pets in the event of evacuation.
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3 comments on “After the Storm: Pets and Preparedness”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    This really struck me as a very important blog. I had a fire that was coming towards my house in Montana, (prairie fire) and my husband loaded up all the animals, one horse, 4 dogs and a cat into the horse trailer. he only had 5-7 minutes to do this. We got them out safely, and the house was saved. I would not have known were to go after we loaded them up. Thank you so much for this information

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Page last reviewed: May 20, 2015
Page last updated: May 20, 2015