Pet Loss Grief Support Animals in our Hearts  Animal Communication Teresa Wagner
  • Everything that lives is holy.

    William Blake

When Disaster Strikes: Practical, Emotional and Spiritual Support for Animals and Yourself

copyright 2008 Teresa Wagner
Please feel free to share this article and it's resources with anyone.

No one is immune from natural disasters—fires, floods, hurricanes, tornados, snow storms, earthquakes and other tragedies happen. When they do, for many of us our first thought is about getting our animals to safety, or, about what we can do to help the animals in a disaster zone away from us. This article offers resources and ideas for providing practical, emotional and spiritual support for the animals and people involved in disasters and trauma, and to help us with our own fears, concerns and overwhelm when we hear about animals in peril.

Disaster planning is not "fear based." It's simply about making basic plans in the event of a natural disaster or crisis to protect the animals we love. This is no different than locking our doors at night for safety in the event there may be some unbalanced person out there who might believe it's OK to come into our homes invited. When we lock our doors we are setting a boundary of protection. Disaster planning is the same thing. A primary part of our role as guardians of our animals is to provide physical care and protection. Disaster planning is about being grounded and responsible in planning for our animals in the event there is a natural disaster or other crisis which could put their lives in danger. Having survived two fires and one flood with my cats, two of which involved evacuations, I know first hand how valuable disaster planning can be. I don't fear future natural disasters. However, it's a lot easier not to knowing I have plans and resources in place to keep us safe. May these resources help you do the same.

Practical Support and Survival

  • Create a disaster evacuation plan and have a packed disaster kit for you and your animals.

    When disaster occurs, it can be more challenging than it is under ordinary circumstances to think and act quickly. Many, many deaths and traumas for animals during disasters can be prevented with good planning. Take a look at these lists to help you create your own: From the SPCA of Monterey County, CA From the ASPCA Especially for horses

  • Place Save My Pet stickers in your windows showing emergency personnel how many pets of what type are inside. Available for FREE from the SPCA of Monterey County. Email your request to Lisa Hoefler at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • Keep collars and tags on your animals at all times, and have them microchipped.This is their ticket home if you are separated.

    During the Katrina crisis, thousands of animals were never reunited with their people because they had no ID to help facilitate reunions.

  • Keep Animal Rescue Formula or other calming remedies always nearby or packed in your evacuation kit to help your animals stay as calm as possible during what can be a stressful and traumatic time. Details, photos of the flowers in this formula and ordering information from

    Some ideas from my personal experience: (These are "cat oriented" because I have cats; hopefully these ideas will trigger ones that are relevant and important to your animals, whatever the species)

  • Make your own personal list of what you'd want and need to take if evacuation is necessary. Keep it taped in a convenient place such as the inside of kitchen cabinet door for quick access. If and when a disaster occurs you don't need to "think" too hard in the stress of the moment about what to take and where those items are. Your list will be right in front of you.

  • Keep a small bag or backpack packed with key items, ready to be swiftly taken out of the house along with the animals. What would you need with you if you and your animals were staying at a Red Cross Shelter, or with a friend or family members? What medications, vitamins, pet food, etc. would be needed? I keep a tupperware container with dried cat food (with a piece of tape on top with the date; I change out the food every time I buy new food), another tupperware container and lid that can serve as a water bowl, along with a few bottles of water. That way I know my animals can have instant access to food and water.

  • Keep some essentials in your car: I keep a small litter box in my car and a container of cat litter at all times. It takes up very little room but it was sure nice to have there when we needed it during the fire evacuation. Much easier than taking the time (which sometimes we may not have when evacuating) to clean out a full litter box to place in the car when leaving. Keep extra leashes, water, and crates in the car if you have space.

  • Make arrangements with a few trusted neighbors: exchange keys; show them where your leashes and carriers are; exchange all phone numbers (home, cell, work) and make agreements that you will contact one another if there is a disaster and help ensure that all animals are taken out to safety. If you work out of the home and hear of a disaster in your area, it can be comforting to call those neighbors and ask for their help--knowing they know where everything is--to get your animals to safety. I keep my packed bag right with my cats' carriers in a bedroom closet. My "trusted neighbors" know where this is.

  • Keep the number of your local animal shelter or animal control agency with you at all times (in your cell phone or written in your wallet). If you are away from home when disaster strikes one of your first calls can be to them, requesting assistance to get your animals out.

  • Keep all the account numbers, phone numbers, web site url's and passwords for utilities and other bills you may need to pay or contact while gone from your home in a place where you can access it while away-- coded in some discreet manner in your blackberry, laptop or phone, or, on a piece of paper that is kept with a trusted friend or family member. I tried to pay a utility bill on line while evacuated and couldn't because I had no account numbers or passwords with me. Later, it took an inordinate amount of time to negotiate deletion of late charges that were incurred.

Emotional and Spiritual Support

How to help animals from afar when hearing about disaster:

  • Always, always send the animals the energy of calm. When feeling fearful and upset, be very careful not to think of or connect with the animals in those moments. Your fear and upset is yours, and it is understandable. But be careful not to send it to the animals. Breathe. When you want to help the animals energetically but your are upset, close your eyes and take some nice breaths. Make a intention to put your own upset aside for a time, knowing you can go back to care for yourself later, then send calming, peaceful energy, along with your love to the animals. Send them calm. Feel calm yourself and send them calm. Feel your love for them and send them this love. Never underestimate the power of sending this positive energy to those in trauma. It is received and it makes a difference. Hand wringing does not help those in need. But love does. Calm energy does. Tremendously. And you can and should care for your own upset, separately. If you are so overwhelmed by what is happening and cannot reach the place of calm, that's OK. You can ask others to send the energy of calm, peace, and love. Ask all the divine beings you pray to to do this on your behalf.

  • Pray, to whomever you pray to, not only for the safety of those involved, but for all to have the calmness and strength needed for whatever situation they are in, moment to moment. Don't forget to pray for the emergency personnel, and all those helping the animals. They need calm and strength too.

  • Read the article, "The Whale's Lesson on Helping Those Who Suffer" which is about showering love onto the suffering of others, along with more ideas on how to channel the natural fear, grief or overwhelm we can feel when hearing about animals in tragedy into powerful support for the animals. These healing strategies ideas given to me on a day when I encountered a beached humpback whale calf.

  • Listen to the CD track, "Being a Compassionate Protected Witness to Others' Pain" which greatly expands upon the ideas in the article above. This CD is one of a three CD set titled Energetic Boundaries, Protection and Preparation for Animal Communication. It is available on download or CD.

Helping Yourself when feeling fearful or overwhelmed by news of animals in trauma:

  • Listen to: "A Healing Meditation for use When Witness to Animals' Tragedy" a meditation created to prevent and help with the overwhelm we often feel when hearing about animals in harm's way. It is designed to bring centeredness, calm and empowerment when feeling disturbed and saddened by animals being in horrific or dangerous situations. This CD trace is on one of a three CD set by Teresa titled Energetic Boundaries, Protection and Preparation for Animal Communication. It is available on download or CD. The guided meditation includes soothing and healing background music by Thaddeus, made available by the generosity of Sanaya Roman (

  • Consider taking flower essences that bring emotional and energetic support during crises:Five Flower Formula (This is the same formula as Rescue Remedy but with an easier to use dropper bottle and significantly lower price; read details of these powerful flowers and purchase information at

    (This formula works well "in tandem with or in alteration with Five Flower Formula during the most intense and immediate episodes of panic and chaos." Details, photos and purchase information at
    Post Trauma Stabilizer
    (This is an important essence is extremely helpful for any residual stress and any ongoing symptoms after we experience a major crisis or trauma. Taking it can prevent or minimize the difficult symptoms of PTSD. Details, photos of the flowers in this powerful formula and ordering information at
    Crisis Desert Emergency Formula
    (Especially helpful when the experience of trauma or crisis extends beyond a long period of time. Five Flower Formula and Fear-Less is very helpful for in the moment crisis, over hours or days. This formula and Post Trauma Stabilizier are appropriate for longer term crises. Available from

Helping the Heroes Who Help Our Animals

  • Consider donating money or volunteer time to your local animal shelter or fire company. These are the heroes who save our animals during natural disasters.

  • Read an article (above) about how the SPCA of Monterey County in CA saved 404 animals from the Big Sur fires