hurricane-43880_1280UVHS provides disaster preparedness services, including temporary emergency animal boarding, in order to meet the needs of our community before, during, and after a disaster.

We all remember the devastation wrought by Hurricane Irene and when we think about disaster preparedness, we may think back to that storm, but there are many other disasters that could impact our families and pets from ice storms to fires.

Plan ahead by using our helpful Q&A list and resources to prepare your family and pets to react in the event of a disaster.


Q: Why do I need to develop a disaster plan?

A: Disasters may come with plenty of warning or none at all, but all of them run the risk of destroying property and taking lives. In the confusion and chaos before, during and after a storm, a plan can help you keep your family (including your pets) together and safe.


Q: How do I make a disaster plan for my family?

A: Planning for a disaster includes determining evacuation routes, gathering copies of important documents, arranging with friends or family to shelter one another, researching other sheltering resources and setting up an emergency kit that has everything in it needed for rapid evacuation. Many examples and recommendations for the contents of this emergency can be found online.

General Disaster Planning Resources:
Red Cross Emergency Preparation


Q: How do I plan for my pets, and why should I?

A: Many consider their pets to be a part of their family, and whether in a disaster you choose to stay home or to evacuate, planning in advance will help to ensure your pets’ health, safety and lives.

Things to determine in advance of a disaster:

Your nearest public human shelters may yet not allow pets (for health code reasons). You should plan in advance for other alternatives, either for your pets, your family or both. Family and friends are often the cheapest and easiest source of shelter, though they may be unable to take in your pets. Pets may be kenneled if that is financially feasible. Pet friendly hotels and motels are a great option.

If you are away from home during an evacuation (on vacation or at work), what neighbors do you and your pets trust to take your pets with them? Make arrangements with them, make sure they know where the pet carriers are along with the disaster bag with their food, medicine and documentation.

Disaster Planning – Specific to Pets:

Humane Society Disaster Preparedness
ASPCA Disaster Preparedness
FEMA recommendations for helping pets
Pet Finder Disaster Preparedness
Red Cross Prepare for emergencies: Pets


Q: What will UVHS do to help in a disaster?

A: We will be working with community partners to ensure that your pets are taken care of in a disaster if you are unable to do so yourself. We also seek to coordinate with other shelters and disaster response organizations in order to ensure that more people have access to emergency sheltering for their pets.

We offer emergency boarding when people temporarily lose the capacity to take care of their companion animals, and when a larger scale emergency affects multiple families we will open a disaster shelter on our premises which can handle roughly 40 companion animals.


Q: What about my farm animals and horses?

A: While we are unable to shelter large animals, there are many other organizations and networks that are working to ensure the safety of these larger animals.

There are great planning materials for farms animals and horses:

Disaster tips for horses
Humane Society disaster tips for farm animals
Humane Society disaster tips for horses


Q: What about my exotic animals? (birds, fish, reptiles)

A: Evacuating and sheltering exotic animals present a challenge to owners. Tropical animals will need a source of heat, fish tanks may be too heavy to move, and some animals are not easily transported for other reasons. Set up a plan for yourself and your pet, determining how to meet their transport and temporary housing needs. Exotic animals have very specific needs that UVHS may not be able to cater to. If you are unsure what the specific needs of your pet may be, you should contact the veterinarian who works with your exotic animal.

For more details see:
Reptiles and Amphibians


Q: What kind of volunteers does UVHS need during a disaster?

A: All of our volunteers need to attend a volunteer training seminar. For some volunteers (those helping prepare food, do laundry, cleaning) this may be the only training necessary. For those handling animals, certain trainings and immunizations will be necessary. Some volunteers needed such as veterinarians need to be properly credentialed as such.

No special trainings required:
Cooking meals for workers
General cleaning
Intake assistance
Supply pick-up

One UVHS training required:
Fostering Pets
Animal area cleaning
Dog walking
Pet Grooming
Pet Socialization
Inventory Management
Requires multiple certifications:
Emergency Animal Transport
Emergency Maintenance
Veterinary Services
Animal Rescue Assistance


Q: What donations will UVHS need before, during or after a disaster?

A: Money and gift cards help us to buy exactly what we need, when we need it. This has been and always will be the easiest way to help us.

Before: foldable crates and cages of all sizes, large storage bins, leashes

During or after: Dry dog and cat food, litter, bleach, paper towels, cages


Q: I am from another shelter; may we use your plan as a basis for our own?

A: Yes, please! We wrote our plan specifically with the intent to share this plan with as many people as possible, to help as many animals and their owners as possible. Please contact us at 603.448.6888 to discuss what resources we might be able to provide you.