Have a Back-up Plan for Your Pet if You’re in an Emergency Situation

By on August 13, 2016

As much as we like to imagine that an emergency won’t or can’t happen to us, it can strike at any time. Fires, floods, car accidents, heart attacks, etc. all happen in the blink of an eye and could leave your animal stranded and without care. AND without you.

“When the need happens to call 911, pets need to be a consideration. Are there pets that emergency personnel need to be aware of? Are there arrangements that need to be made and people contacted for your pets in the event that you do not return home right away,” Tom Colvin, Executive Director at Animal Rescue League of Iowa (ARL), said.

One option to help keep your pet safe is to sign up for Smart911. Smart911 is a free, private and secure resource that allows emergency responders to know additional information about you automatically.

This can include things like: how many people live with you, if you have special medical needs, the access points of your house — even if you have a pet.

When you sign up online, all the information you choose to disclose gets added into a nationwide database that can be accessed by participating emergency responders everywhere.

For example, let’s say that your house is on fire and you’re stuck inside. You don’t know where your animal is.

If you have a Smart911, the firefighters will be looking for both of you when they get to the scene. They will also be aware of any medical conditions you have, like asthma, or if there is anyone else they need to look for.

Even if you weren’t home when your house caught fire, firefighters would still know to look for the animal.

In an interview with Smart911, West Des Moines Police Officer, Sgt. Brent Kock said:

“Even the simplest of details can help our officers during an emergency. From knowing access points to the home, whether there is a pet we need to be aware of when approaching or entering the home or just knowing the name of the person in distress can enhance the safety of our citizens and our officers.”

Although this database is not yet being used by the Omaha Police Department, there are several counties in Iowa that are.

Participating counties include:

  • Polk County- 450,000 residents
  • Emmet County- 9, 993 residents
  • Humboldt County- 9, 688 residents
  • Webster Co-Law Enforcement Center at Ft. Dodge
  • Buena Vista County- 20,567 residents

“The ARL encourages pet owners to fill out the information today so if an emergency happens, all family members are helped,” Colvin said.

To find out if the emergency responders in your area are participating, or to find out more information you can go here.

Another important thing to you can do to protect your cat or dog is to remember to license them. Licensing your animal is important in case they run away or get lost. Again, if there was a fire and your animal did manage to get away, how would you find them?

Licensing your pet every year is an inexpensive way to protect your them. You can do it either online or at any participating vet clinics. The Nebraska Humane Society has provided links to both options here.

To license your pet, you will need proof of the rabies vaccination. Depending on whether they are spayed or neutered and where you live could affect the price.

In Omaha the prices are:

Spayed or Neutered









The prices for Ralston, La Vista, Papillion, Bellevue and Gretna are:

Spayed or Neutered









Remember that as you rely on your animal for friendship, your animal relies on you to take care of them.


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