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Animal Health and Emergency Services

Pet Sheltering in an Emergency Evacuation - In the event of an evacuation, many people do not want to leave their pets behind. People should plan ahead, before an emergency occurs, to determine where they will go. Virginia now offers pet sheltering and a few designated shelters.

When disasters approach and emergencies occur will you know what to do?

Photo of a emergency pet shelter.FEMA Pets definition:

Household Pet – A domesticated pet, such as a dog, cat, bird, rabbit, rodent, or turtle that is traditionally kept in the home for pleasure rather than for commercial purposes and can travel in commercial carriers and be housed in temporary facilities. Household pets do not include reptiles (with the exception of turtles), amphibians, fish, insects/arachnids, farm animals (including horses), and animals kept for racing purposes

Some of our shelters will be accepting animals that fall outside of this definition. Please watch and listen for media information regarding where you can take any pets.

What are state managed shelters?
State managed shelters provide citizens with a safe haven during an emergency evacuation. State shelters only open when localities have become overwhelmed and once the governor declares a state of emergency. These shelters will be located throughout the state. Please tune into radio, television, and internet for information regarding which shelters have opened. Information will also be provided concerning transportation to the state shelters.

When you arrive at a shelter with your pet, you will need the following: photo i.d. for the pet owner, shot records for all pets, notes about any medications or special dietary needs, food, leashes for dogs and carriers for cats or birds.

Upon arrival to a state shelter, you will need to register your pet and yourself or your family. Pets will be linked to you with a bar code. The code on your pet’s collar will match the code on your wrist band. Owners will be expected to care for their own pets based on a schedule. This involves feeding, walking, cleaning, and medicating. Volunteers will be available to assist you. Transportation will be provided to pet shelters that are not within walking distance of the people shelters.

Localities are responsible for transportation for those who have no means of transport on their own. They will provide busses to transport you, your family and your pets to a state shelter. Most pets will travel in a separate vehicle.

In addition to planning ahead, pet owners should maintain a ready kit year round. For components of a kit, see:
Emergency Pet Supplies

In the event of an evacuation, you may want to consider staying with friends or family in another location. Many hotels and motels also take pets, often for an additional fee. See below:
Pet-Friendly Hotels

Contact local emergency management if you have questions.

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