How to prepare your pets for a disaster.Remember Katrina and the thousands of pets left behind, as heartbroken people headed for shelters? Or how about the many people who refused rescue because their pets could not join them?

I know I didn’t remember, because when I heard a presentation by Karen Oberdorfer, Pet Disaster Ambassador, I realized I was disastrously unprepared. Should an earthquake, tsunami or fire hit my home, neither I nor my pet family was at all ready.

It is now time to remedy that! I pledge to Disaster Cats, Bear and Elphia, that I will take the following steps before my next blog:

1. Collar, tag and Micro-chip each pet. I am using the HomeAgain system.

2. Create a Go-Bag for my crew. This waterproof backpack will contain: An extra leash and collar, food and bagged water, a spill proof bowl, a can opener and plastic can lid, litter and a pan, garbage bags and towels, a first aid kit with medical records, medications and micro-chip information, a toy, bed or piece of clothing that smells like me, lights, a current photo of each cat and one with me in it. I will tag the Go-Bag with bold letters and their names and keep it near my front door by their pet carriers. Pre-made packs can be purchased at Berkeley Humane Society. Go to or

3. Get a Door Sticker for my front door. I need neighbors and rescue workers to know I have pets and what to do with them. The sticker will provide an animal inventory of who is inside, so a rescuer knows who they are looking for. When I or the rescuer leaves with them, we can mark that we have taken this precious inventory with us, so others know that my home is empty. The ASPCA offers free pet stickers.

4. Find a boarding option. If I must evacuate my home, I will then have a place lined up in a different neighborhood for my pets to stay.

5. Find a Pet-Buddy. I will find a neighbor to act as the cat’s back-up parent. I will give that neighbor a key to my house, the cat’s vet information, my emergency phone numbers, and make sure they have a comfortable relationship with my cats. This neighbor can rescue them if I am not home.

6. Continue to learn! The USGS is working to educate cities and individuals about disaster preparedness.

Please submit any resources you know of – and we can all feel prepared for… anything!

Amy Gotliffe is Conservation Manager at The Oakland Zoo.

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Disaster Cats 28 March,2008Amy Gotliffe


Amy Gotliffe

Amy Gotliffe is Conservation Manager at the Oakland Zoo. She is a Detroit transplant, enjoying the good Bay Area life for 17 years. She has a degree in communications, holds several teaching credentials and has a Masters Degree in Environmental Education. She has worked at various Bay Area educational and environmental institutions, teaching second grade, working on campaigns, planting pollinator gardens, producing earth day events and generally spreading the word about wildlife and green living. She currently works at The Oakland Zoo where she serves as the Conservation Manager. There, she coordinates support for international, national and local conservation efforts, produces a Conservation Speaker Series, produces the zoo's Earth Day event, leads eco-trips, teaches the various educational programs and heads up an on-site Green Team. On her list of other passions are travel, photography, music and the lindy hop. :-)

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