VCA El Rancho Animal Hospital
By VCA Animal Hospitals
Published: November 02, 2012

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When disaster strikes the United States, pet owners must be prepared to handle emergency situations and to evacuate with their pets.

If you are instructed to leave your home during a disaster, ALWAYS take your pets with you. If it’s not safe for you—it’s not safe for your pet. Also, you never know when you will be able to return to your home.

Finding a Safe Place to Go

During a crisis, local public disaster shelters and hotels may (or may not) allow pets. If possible, call ahead so you know if you must make other arrangements to avoid you and your pet being stranded in the face of an emergency.

As disaster approaches, bring all pets into the house so you won’t have to search for them if you need to leave quickly. Make sure all pets are wearing collars and have updated identification tags.

Have an Evacuation Kit Ready to Go

Keep your contents ready in an easy-to-carry, water-proof container so your pets will have all the comforts of home during this stressful time. Make sure to include:

  • A first aid kit. Include scissors, flea comb, tweezers, pliers, hemostats, magnifying glass, nail clippers, Tourniquet, cotton balls and swabs, bandage material and tape, eye dropper, oral syringe, thermometer, lubricating jelly, disposable gloves, splints, emergency ice and heat packs, and liquid dish soap.
  • Useful medications include activated charcoal, alcohol, betadine, eye rinse, triple antibiotic ointment, eye ointment, hydrogen peroxide, Benadryl, cortisone ointment, sterile saline, antidiarrheal liquid or tablets and ear cleaning solution. Always include any prescription medications your pet may be taking.
  • One week supply of food and water with non-spill dishes, utensils and a manual can opener.
  • Cages or carriers for each pet.
  • Bedding and toys for each pet.
  • Litterpan, litter and scoop if you have cats.
  • Copy of veterinary records and proof of ownership. Include a picture of each pet.
  • Extra collars, leashes and ID tags for each pet.
  • Muzzles and restraints should be included as pets may become anxious or fractious during an emergency.
  • Emergency contact numbers, including relatives, veterinary clinic, animal shelters, pet-friendly motels and poison control center.
  • Instructions for each pet (in the event you are unable to care for your pet) including feeding and medication details.
  • A pre-signed medical treatment authorization to aid rescuers if your pet must be treated during your absence.
  • Miscellaneous items: trash bags, paper towels, flashlight, batteries, radio, maps should be included in every kit.


Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

As part of the VCA family, we have over 83 specialty hospitals across the US and Canada which provide referral specialty care, so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: behavior, cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, integrative medicine, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology, rehabilitation, reproduction, and surgery.

Find a VCA Specialty Care Animal Hospital near you:


See all VCA Animal Hospitals >


Emergency Care

In case of emergency during normal business hours, please call us immediately. If you have an emergency outside of our normal business hours, please contact a local emergency animal hospital.