Cook County Reminds Residents to Make Pet Preparedness a Priority

The Department of Emergency Management and Regional Security as well as Animal and Rabies Control share tips to help residents keep pets safe during emergency situations

As Pet Preparedness Month comes to a close, the Cook County Department of Emergency Management and Regional Security (EMRS) as well as the County’s Department of Animal and Rabies Control (ARC) are sharing tips and information on ways to keep pets safe and help residents prepare for emergencies.

“Don’t wait until it’s too late to prepare for an emergency,” said William Barnes, executive director of EMRS. “Take action now to ensure your pets have all the necessary items needed to remain comfortable and safe if you must evacuate your home.”

Help Emergency Workers Help Your Pet

The ASPCA recommends placing a rescue sticker on a prominent surface outside your home to alert first responders that pets are inside. The sticker should be easily visible and should include the types and number of pets in your household as well as your veterinarian's phone number.

If evacuating with your pets, write "EVACUATED" across the sticker or remove it altogether so rescue workers know there are no pets inside.

“A good rule of thumb to follow is that if it's not safe for you to stay behind, it's not safe to leave pets behind either,” said Dr. Tom Wake, administrator for ARC. “Most pets cannot survive on their own and your chances of locating them after you return are very low.”

Microchip Your Pet

Your veterinarian can microchip your pet. Make sure to keep your address and phone number up to date and include contact information for an emergency contact outside of your immediate area.

Make a ‘Go Bag’ for Your Pet

In the event of an emergency, make sure you have all the supplies your pet will need in an easy to carry container, like a backpack, duffle bag or covered plastic bin. Your pet ‘Go Bag’ should include:

  • Medications and medical records (stored in a waterproof container) and a first aid kit.
  • Sturdy leashes, a collar with a current ID tag, harnesses and/or carriers to transport pets safely and ensure that your animals can't escape.
  • Current photos of your pets in case they get lost.
  • Food, drinkable water, bowls, cat litter/pan and a manual can opener.
  • Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems as well as the name and number of your veterinarian in case you must foster or board your pets.
  • Pet bed or toys, if easily transportable.

Find Pet Friendly Emergency Accommodations

Many emergency shelters do not allow animals. Make accommodations for your pets in advance of an emergency.

  • Contact hotels and motels outside your local area to check their policies on pets and any restrictions on number, size and species. Ask if "no pet" policies can be waived in an emergency. Keep a list of pet friendly places, including phone numbers, with your disaster supplies.
  • Ask friends, relatives or others outside the affected area whether they could shelter your animals.
  • Make a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians who could shelter animals in an emergency; include 24-hour phone numbers.
  • Ask local animal shelters if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets during a disaster.
  • Make a back-up emergency plan and develop a buddy system with neighbors, friends and relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so. Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to make it on your own for at least three days, maybe longer.

For more information and to download a pet safety emergency checklist, visit



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