My PET Project – Pet Care Industry Toolkit

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A Pet With A Plan Can Save Lives!

Pet Care Industry Toolkit 

Mapping out your emergency route now can save the lives of the pets in your care and allow you to continue your operations during a disaster.  Below are frequently asked questions you may have as your animal shelter or animal care facility begins to tackle the subject of disaster preparedness.  Perhaps these answers will help you put things in perspective and allow you to tackle the project one simple, small step at a time.

The twists  turns to Mapping out your Disaster Plan:  FAQ

What is a disaster plan?

A temporary solution to a crisis situation.  Your disaster plan provides guidelines to immediately address a disaster, safely evacuate the pets under your care and temporarily continue your essential services.  This temporary situation can transpire over an extended period of time, until your business recovery plan can be fully implemented and business is restored to normal operations.

Where do we begin?

Identify players, people who can add value to your planning team.  Perhaps staff, volunteers, peers from other pet care businesses or organizations that are willing to come together to share in the planning process.  Use templates and check-lists already created by others to kick-start your plan, don’t reinvent the wheel!

How do I simplify this planning process?

Hold a brainstorming session to allow all staff and volunteers to offer input and ultimately to buy into the plan.  Simply ask for Focus on a few pieces of your disaster plan at a time and set a timeline for completing each.

Test the plan, really?

Test pieces annually throughout the year.  Not only will it highlight things you have missed or can do better, it keeps top of mind awareness and as they say practice makes perfect!  Make it fun and keep people engaged!

Is a business recovery plan the same as a disaster plan?

NO!  The disaster plan gets you through the heat of the moment and provides an immediate but temporary solution to the situation.  A business recovery plan provides the guidelines to rebuilding a permanent solution and returning to normal business operations.


woman working in animal shelter

Please take these 3 simple steps and so you can ensure the safety of pets in your care if your facility experiences a disaster!

1.  Plan

Develop disaster operations, communications, evacuation procedures.

  • Assemble a disaster planning team of staff and volunteers
  • Build a temporary disaster operations plan
    • MOUs for alternate location, equipment, supplies, staffing
    • Pre-assign diaster roles (staff and volunteers)
    • Evaluate your services and categorize as essential or non-essential, in a disaster often times there is only time and resources for essential services
    • Collaboratively plan with other pet care businesses or organizations
  • Develop an evacuation process
    • Train staff/volunteers and TEST your evacuation process
  • Develop a disaster communications plan
    • Identify primary stakeholders (pet owners, staff, volunteers)
    • Identify secondary stakeholders (public, partners, vendors)
    • Pre-establish emergency numbers for incoming calls and sharing updates
    • Pre-establish a social media plan for sharing updates
  • Develop Business Recovery Plan(this is your long-term plan to return to normal business operations following a disaster, please refer to business recovery planning sources for help)

2.  Evacuate

Implement disaster plans and execute evacuation procedures.

  • Disaster Operational Procedures
  • Execute Disaster Communications Procedures
  • Execute Disaster Evacuation Process

3.  Transition

Switch from disaster operations to normal business practices.

  • Review and maintain disaster procedures
  • Execute business recovery plans (please refer to business recovery planning sources for help)
  • Return to business as usual, as soon as possible

Resources and templates are provided below

Download a disaster planning guide for veterinary practices (source:  AVMA)

Download a disaster plan template for animal shelters (source:  ASPCA)

Volunteers helping people through animal disaster education, planning, and response.