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Planning for everything: Disaster prep for you and your animals

It’s summer! Are you making plans to travel with your animals? Or, is a sitter staying with them?

Maybe you’re having guests with pets. Whatever your summer fun scenarios, planning for animal emergencies and disaster prep should be part of your prep.

This year brings a dramatically longer fire season, and new concerns about fuel and other shortages and infectious diseases in animals as well as humans. Whew… not exactly the summer fun mindset we want! But if your summer plans include emergency plans for your animals, you’ll be better able to truly relax and enjoy.

Whether you’re an animal owner, sitter, or AirBnB, HipCamp or resort items in our Summer Animal Preparedness Guide will help you organize and check off all the considerations for safe traveling and hosting.

We also live in Earthquake Country, it’s a big consideration! Have you upgraded your preparedness plans for yourself and the rest of your family—the critters as well as the humans?

Having a plan is a start, now, how about Plan B, C, D…? Upgrading and updating your Disaster Action Plan includes taking a realistic look at everything that could have health and life-threatening impacts and doing what you can to improve the odds for safety and resilience.

Take it one step at a time, starting with the basics:

  • Have an Animal Disaster Plan that includes Evacuation and Sheltering in Place.
  • Refresh your Go-Kits, include enough for 5-7 days.
  • Have enough emergency supplies, (water, feed, medications, parasite control, etc.), for at least a month.
  • Have strong emergency communication capabilities.
  • Build and strengthen your “Emergency Support Network”— your Buddy System of helpers to transport, assist or care for your animals, and for whom you can provide backup.

Whether you’re hitting the show circuit, riding in the back country, welcoming visitors to your inn, farm stay, or vacation rental property, or vacationing without your pets and/or equines – planning is more important than ever in this drought-stricken, supply chain-and-COVID-challenged year.

We’ve compiled important checklists, action items and resources that will help you improve your plans for equines, pets, poultry, and livestock that could save lives and are guaranteed to provide peace of mind.

Incorporating emergency and disaster plans into your vacation prep means factoring in all the same essentials in your home Disaster Action Plan, (“DAP”). Ensuring safety for your animals takes a few more steps.

Safety starts at home! Weekly walk-arounds should be part of your summer home and barn routine.Sonoma FireSAFE and Cal Fire’s “Ready for Wildfire” app, both offer super checklists to self-assess your property. HALTER Project has a great “FireSAFE Animals” resource library.

  • Make sure your property, including your perimeter fencing, hay storage, and water supply are safe, secure, and defensible.
  • Remove all the flammable “stuff” that can blow or burn.
  • Get new hoses and nozzles and get rid of any that are not in great shape or too short.
  • Clean up! And down! And look around!

Don’t expect your home and animal-sitters to tackle safety chores in your absence. Start with a clean, green and safe setting so maintenance is easy. Know Before You Go is critical when you’re leaving animals at home, or traveling to, or through, a fire or storm-prone area.


  • Emergency Alerts: We all get emergency alerts for our homes, workplace, kids’ schools, loved ones, right? Now, add “Vacation Alerts & Contacts”. Sign up for all local emergency alerts for your travel route and destination. If your home and/or animal “sitters” are not local, make sure they are signed up for all alerts for your home. The same goes for adding the AM/FM news radio stations and NOAA weather channel to your “Emergency Communications” info.
  • Know Your Zone— For every place you and your animals might be! Download maps, save web links for Emergency Services in the places you’re traveling to or through.
  • Learn about the possible hazard conditions that can pose threats to your vacation fun, and make sure you have maps, evacuation info, and several ways to get accurate tinformation. All these items are essential for people caring for your home and animals, as well.
  • Take your Go-Kits!
  • Make veterinary connections before you go.

Basically, everything you have in your home emergency plan should be part of your vacation. Chat with friends who routinely go walkabout, especially if they take their animals, to share tips and advice.

Planning for animals who are your traveling companions, those relaxing at home, or visiting pets, requires a few more steps. Don’t assume anything!


Take the lead to ensure that the people caring for your animals or staying in AirBnBs or Hip-Camps in your neighborhood are fire and earthquake-wise and have the tools they need to evacuate with animals, and to request assistance for animals sheltered in place.

  • Have a written plan for animal-sitters, and review it with them.
  • House and animal-sitters should be familiar with the Evac zones, when to go, where your pet ready-kits and emergency supplies are stored, and, have your pre-arranged evacuation destinations and routes, and a solid SIP plan.
  • Provide Animal Helpline and other Energency numbers, post prominently and make sure they have them.
  • Make sure sitters and visitors know how to disable the garage door and electric gates, too.
  • Register your gate code with Sonoma County Sheriff!


If you’re taking your pets on your vacation this summer, there are some extra considerations to keep them safe, healthy, and relaxed.

Here’s a checklist. Most items are applicable to equines as well as pets:

  • Make sure microchip registration info is current, and animals are always wearing visible ID.
  • Keep Animal Vaccination Records with you!
  • Take 1-2 months’ worth of parasite control for every animal. Yours may be in short supply!
  • Carry wallet cards with pet emergency info.
  • Carry digital and printed animal ID sheets with photos of you and your animals.
  • Carry a copy of your Advance Animal Care Directive. (This should be in your Disaster Action Plan binder or file).
  • Travel Go-Kits should include enough pet-safe hygiene and sanitation supplies, water, food and medications for at least 5-7 days, in case you’re caught in a local emergency, or cannot return home because home is under an Evac Order.
  • Equine water and feed: A challenge! You should never leave home without at least 12-20 gallons of water per equine per day, and enough water and feed for at least 3 days. Know where your water sources will be on the road. Drought restrictions may impact water availability and quality. Slow-Feed Hay Nets are a great addition to your Equine Ready-Kits.
  • Talk to your vet about electrolyte additives and solutions.
  • Water quality: What will you do if you’re faced with water purity concerns? This could be a critical component of your sumner-fall home and travel emergency planning. Fluctuations in water pressure at Bay Area agencies have already resulted in these types of emergencies. Plan now to ensure that you have safe drinking water for all the animals and people, at home and on the road. Download our “Drinking Water Safety” checklist with info resources.
  • Add emergency contacts for resources along your route and near your destination (veterinarians, pet-friendly motels and campgrounds, boarding facilities).
  • Take a class on pet and/or equine first-aid before you go, and include some species-specific items in your own first-aid kit.


  • Know how to get help on the road, join an Equestrian Emergency Roadside Service.\
  • Include an emergency hoof-care kit, emergency colic care supplies and medications provided by your veterinarian.
  • Your vet contacts should be on a wallet card and your Advance Care Directive. Keep a copy of your Animal Emergency Info in the glove box of your vehicle.
  • If your equines are insured, include insurance documents with your vehicle insurance docs AND in your Advance Care Directive.
  • Wilderness Trekking with dogs or equines: Know how to get help for your animals. Find out if there’s an Animal Technical Rescue Team in the region, and learn how to request help in the areas you’d visiting.
  • Use reliable communication devices with GPS capabilities, stay alert and aware of conditions in the region that could prevent you from making a fast exit. Know where fires are, stay abreast of conditions


  • Include information about rattlesnake, insects, and predator awareness.
  • Require Proof of Vaccination for Rabies and all locally required vaccination and health documents for boarded animals.
  • Provide Evacuation Map or weblink info.
  • Make sure visitors know how to use the fire extinguishers.
  • Review your Evac and SIP plans with people caring for your animals. Sounds obvious, right? But how often do people actually do it?

Here in beautiful and hospital Sonoma County, it’s vitally important to help visitors AND neighbors stay safe and healthy, and safety awareness should be “SOP” for travelers and hosts. So, here are a few more notes about Vacation Safety for travelers and hosts:

  • Use only animal-safe cleaning and disinfecting products. When using bleach, use a 10-1 Water-Bleach solution and air-dry completely before animals use the space.
  • Check in advance to learn about any regional animal disease outbreaks at your property or destination, and amy stop vets on your route (or guest’s).\
  • Talk with your veterinarian to make sure you can keep animals healthy, and, that you don’t bring home any infectious animal diseases.
  • Regardless of your plans and destination, keep in mind that COVID and animal disease restrictions restrictions, could change rapidly.

We live in a spectacular region, loaded with beautiful blessings as well as challenges. The best way to have a relaxed summer, with or without travel, is to be prepared. Readiness has brought us together, let’s keep paying it forward. Share information with neighbors, friends and family. And have a fabulous summer, filled with fun and companionship!


  • Sonoma County Animal Services 707-565-7100
  • — Disaster Hotline: 707-861-0699
  • 707-762-6227
  • CDFA Animal Health Branch


  • Local Animal Control /Humane Society
  • Local Horse Council, County Farm Bureau
  • Back Country Horsemen of California (Facebook)
  • C B Ranch Rescue (Facebook Group)
  • West Coast Equine Emergency and Disaster Response / Fleet of Angels (Facebook Group)
  • East Coast Equine Emergency and Disaster Response / Fleet of Angles (Facebook Group)

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