Evacuating Pets

You play an important role in helping your pets stay safe in a wildfire. Make sure they’re included in your family’s evacuation plan; and build each pet their own pet evacuation kit.  It doesn’t take a lot of time to build one, and it can usually be done using things you already have at home. This checklist will help you customize an evacuation kit for the pets in your family and ensure they’re ready to go if you need to evacuate during a wildfire. When building the kit, remember it needs to be a size and weight that can be easily loaded into a vehicle when evacuating quickly.

Just as humans prepare, it’s important to have household pets and horses ready year-round for a potential wildfire evacuation. Preparing animals for an evacuation, however, requires an extra level of planning, preparedness and practice. NFPA’s TakeAction campaign provides the tips you need to start putting your pet emergency kit together now, before a wildfire threatens your area.


Bring pets inside at the early signs of a wildfire – that way if an evacuation notice is issued they’ll be close and you won’t have to spend time searching for them outdoors. If the fire is nearby and evacuation is expected, place them in carriers near the front door, with food and water.  If possible, take pets with you when evacuating; they could encounter problems when left on their own, and you could have difficulty locating them when you return. Don’t ever delay leaving home during a fire to find pets; your personal safety could depend on a quick exit!


Many human evacuation centers cannot accept pets due to health and safety regulations. Often, only service animals are permitted in an evacuation center. If your family will be staying at a public shelter during an evacuation, it’s important to know animals may not be allowed to stay with you.

In some communities, evacuation shelters are located close to where pets are kept, but that’s not always the case. If they’re housed closely, you may have an opportunity to care for them yourself. If your animals are at the shelter, they’ll be happier and more comfortable if you have the items listed on the pet evacuation kit checklist.

Many of the supplies needed for a pet kit can be used. When you buy a new leash, collar or bed, add the old item to your pet’s emergency kit. Instead of disposing of old towels and blankets, wash them and put some in your pet’s kit.

Included on the checklist are many types of paperwork and photos that should be included in your kit; but another good way to easily store the information is to scan the recommended documents and photos and store them on a flash drive inside the kit. Consider giving an additional flash drive to a friend or relative that lives in a neighboring community; that way if you don’t have time to pack your pet evacuation kit, you’ll have another option to retrieve the information.

Resource credit: CAL FIRE and FIRESafe MARIN