September 21, 2023

ReadyVB: Don’t Forget About Your Pets When Planning for Emergencies

Add your pets into your family's emergency preparations and evacuation plans.

Small dog sitting next to stack of toys and supplies

For those who have them, pets are an important member of your family and should not be forgotten with your hurricane preparedness plans. With the Atlantic hurricane season running from June 1 to Nov. 30, be ready for the unexpected and follow these tips with your furry friends in mind.

Make a Plan

If you must evacuate before a hurricane, that means your pet should evacuate, too. Never leave them behind as they could end up lost, injured or worse. Ensure your evacuation plan includes knowing where you will be able to take your pets.

If you have friends and family that can shelter your pets before a storm or hurricane, take advantage and develop a buddy system in your plan. Emergency shelters may also be activated in the event of an emergency, but animals may not be allowed.

Jessica Wilde, City of Virginia Beach animal shelter manager, said although the Virginia Beach Animal Care and Adoption Center no longer offers emergency pet sheltering, there are two locations that could be set up as a pet shelter during an emergency. Those location names would be released to the public once established.

If in doubt, reach out to Emergency Management or Animal Control to get advice and information on how to care for your pet in case of an emergency.

Build an Emergency Kit for Your Pet

While assembling your emergency kit with essential supplies to sustain you and your family, think about the basics for survival when it comes to your furry friend.

  • Food & Water: Have several days’ supply of food in an airtight waterproof container and water along with your pet’s water bowl.
  • Medicine: Keep an ample supply of the medications your pet takes in a waterproof container.
  • First Aid Kit: Ask your veterinarian what is appropriate to include for your pet’s emergency medical needs.
  • Backup ID Tag and Leash: Have an additional ID tag, collar and backup leash. Ensure you have copies of your pet’s registration information and other important documents.
  • Traveling Bag, Crate or Pet Carrier: Have one for each pet.
  • Grooming Items: Shampoo, conditioner, other items needed in case your pet needs some hygiene maintenance.
  • Sanitation Needs: Litter box, pup pads, paper towels, dog waste bags.
  • Recent picture of you and your pet: In case you become separated from your pet during an emergency, a picture with your pet will help document ownership and assist others in helping to identify your pet.
  • Favorite Items: Make sure you pack your pet’s favorite toys, treats or bedding. It can help reduce stress for your pet.

Your Pet Needs ID, Too

An ID tag helps to identify pet and owner in the event of separation during an emergency evacuation. By keeping your address and phone number updated, it ensures someone can contact you if your pet is found. Microchipping your pet is also proven to be valuable said Sarah Evans, media and communications coordinator with the Virginia Beach Police Department.

“Microchipping is so important and also registering them because what we have found during certain events such as Fourth of July, loud noises can cause dogs to run away,” she said. “If there is ever a chance that they [your pet] can be separated, having them microchipped is helpful.”

The Virginia Beach Animal Care and Adoption Center hosts quarterly walk-in rabies and microchip clinics. Microchips are $10 and rabies vaccines are $5 during the clinic. Dogs must be on a leash and cats must be transported in a carrier. There is no sign-up, walk-in service only. The next clinic will be held Dec. 12 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Your pet’s medical records are documents you might also want to safeguard along with yours as part of your emergency preparedness planning.

Stay Ahead. Stay Informed.

Be sure you’re staying ahead and informed about the current conditions before and during a hurricane. The City’s Emergency Management has established the “ReadyVB” campaign that educates and engages the community about hurricane preparedness before a storm hits.

Residents can find valuable resources and information on how to prepare for an emergency before, during and after (or recovery) at Some of those resources include:

  • How to Make a Plan: An emergency plan provides a framework to keep your family safe during a crisis.
  • Evacuation Zones: Do you “know your zone?” The zones—designated A through D—clarify whether a resident should evacuate in an emergency, or shelter at home or in their place of business – based on their address and the nature of the emergency.
  • VBAlert: An emergency alert and warning system that sends messages to registered users via text, email and phone, depending on the methods you register to receive them.

Here are some additional ways to stay ahead, stay informed:

  • Pay attention to emergency alerts (VBAlert) for local alerts and warnings sent by Virginia Beach public safety officials.
  • Listen to City of Virginia Beach officials when told to evacuate or shelter in place.
  • Always bring pets indoors at the first sign or warning of a storm or disaster.

The City of Virginia Beach Emergency Management team promotes a comprehensive emergency management program to mitigate Virginia Beach's impacts from man-made, natural or technological disasters. Learn more at

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