Earthquake Emergency Planning Checklist for Pet Owners

If you live in an earthquake-prone area, taking steps to prepare your family for a sudden quake can mean the difference between life and death. Although we can’t plan where we will be when one strikes, having a plan at home is the best way to be prepared. While we can generally see the onset of other natural disasters coming and watch them on our television, earthquakes aren’t easy to predict. So, ask yourself – does your family know what to do if an earthquake suddenly strikes? Do you have supplies set aside for your human and furry family members if you were without access to running water, power, etc.? If you don’t feel fully prepared, don’t be alarmed. Our checklist is a great resource for helping you to start preparing today!


Make a plan and share it with your family. In the event that you and your family are not all in one room when an earthquake strikes, outline a plan of action that you are all aware of to ensure everyone is kept safe and accounted for. Here are some things to plan for:

• Take a walk around your home and note any large items that could fall or break, such as bookcases, electronics, etc. and work to secure those objects to reduce injury during an earthquake.
• Work to get your dog trained to listen to your commands so they obey you in emergency situations.
• Know where to DROP, COVER and HOLD on. Identify the safe places in your home so your family knows where to be. These places include under a piece of furniture or along a wall away from windows and furniture that could fall on you.
• Plan that the family member closest to your pet(s) will help them take cover, only if it is safe for them.
• Prepare an emergency kit for you and your pets. An emergency kit prepared just for your pet includes;
– clean water – enough for at least 3 days
– non-perishable food (canned food) and bowls
– can opener
– kennel for your dog
– litter and litter box
– potty pads
– have medications handy to grab
– dry blankets/towels
– photograph of your pet and proof of ownership
– vaccination records
– basic first aid kit – bandages, gauze, disinfectant to clean a wound, etc.
– toys
– extra leash(es)
– trash bags
Keep these items in an accessible location for use at your home.

Give your pets proper identification. It’s important that pets have I.D. on them at all times, and normally this comes in the form of a collar with a tag that includes name and phone number. Another great option that stays with your pet forever, and can’t be lost is a microchip. When your lost pet is taken to an animal shelter or veterinary clinic, they will scan your pet for a microchip and read its unique code. This code is stored with your pet’s profile and linked to your contact information.

Place a pet rescue window decal near your front door. The ASPCA offers free pet safety packs which “alerts rescue personnel that pets are inside your home.” You can order one for free on the ASPCA website. (If you evacuate with your pets, write “evacuated” across the sticker before leaving your home if at all possible.)

Create a list of emergency contacts and plan where to meet if you get separated. If you have family out of state, make a plan with your family how you will communicate with them.


Stay calm.

Get to a safe place: DROP, COVER and HOLD on. If in these moments you are able, secure your dog on a leash and get your cat in a carrier. If your pet is outside, do not run outside to get your pet. For dogs, if your yard is secure, that is the best place for them at that time. tells us “if in a bed, stay there,” “if outdoors, stay outdoors,” “if in a car, stay in the car.”

Wait until the shaking stops.


If you do not have your pet with you and you are concerned about their safety, ensure it is safe to move around before you leave to locate them.

If you smell gas, get out of your home quickly and move far away from your home.

Meet your family, both human and furry, at your designated meeting point.

Check your family and pets for injuries.

Prepare for aftershocks.

You may need to relocate depending on where you are. If you were inside and your building/home has been damaged, consider moving outside to avoid falling debris.

Pay attention to your pets’ behavior and know that they are scared.

When returning to your property or emerging from your hiding area, keep your pets with you at all times. It is not safe for them to roam free yet.

Have a battery operated radio handy to hear the news in your area. Earthquakes can be followed by landslides and fires.

Get your pets back into a normal routine as soon as your are able. If you notice any behavioral problems or they just don’t seem to be acting normal, contact your veterinarian.