4 min read

How to Pack the "Pawfect" Animal Rescue Kit


Written by Emily Bayne

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 07/19/2021, edited: 07/20/2021

Published: 7/19/2021

You never know when a homeless or injured animal will cross your path. You could be cruising down the road and a dog run out in front of your car, or you could find a fallen baby bird while hiking. There's no telling when an animal will need your help, which is why it's best to stay prepared. This guide will help you to pack the "pawfect" animal rescue kit so you can spring into action when the need arises. Below are the essentials you'll need for the optimal animal rescue kit.

Work gloves

First and foremost, you'll need a good set of work gloves when rescuing animals. Gloves are so important when packing an animal rescue kit, especially when rescuing feral cats and wild birds. Gloves can protect your hands from scratches and bites, but they can also help you to grip the animal better.

A pet carrier

When rescuing animals, you'll need something to transport them in. Pet carriers are particularly useful for transporting injured or feral animals. While you can use a cardboard box in a pinch, these aren't nearly as sturdy. It's best to invest in a large-size fold-down crate and a small cat carrier and keep them in your trunk at all times.


Besides making strays feel more comfortable during transport, blankets may protect handlers against scratches from unkempt nails. Blankets can also safeguard your vehicle seats from scratches and holes when transporting animals.


Keep towels on hand for sanitary reasons as well as to wrap around pets who are wet or cold. Towels can also help stop bleeding if you come across an injured animal in the road.

Hand sanitizer

Having hand sanitizer in your emergency animal rescue kit is important since you don't know if the rescue animal harbors viruses or parasites. Sanitizing your hands can prevent you from catching something from the animal or bringing viruses home to your pets.

Disinfectant spray

Bacteria, parasites, and viruses can linger on surfaces long after an infected animal has left your possession. For this reason, you'll want to have disinfectant on hand to kill microscopic pathogens that may be left behind. Give your car and any items the animal has touched a good spritzing with disinfectant before using them again.

Leashes and collars

Be sure to pack a short dog leash and a few different-sized collars in your emergency rescue kit. Nylon collars with clips tend to be best since you can easily take these up to fit smaller dogs. Another plus side to nylon collars is they're cheap, so you can get several in different sizes to fit any dog you may find. You may also want to get a cat collar or two to fit miniature breeds and puppies.

Pop-top cans of cat and dog food

Food is your best bet for luring fearful strays out of hiding. Pop-top cans are the most convenient option. Plus, wet food is typically more appealing than dry food. Keep both cat and dog food on hand so you're prepared for whatever species you encounter.

Cat and dog treats

Treats are super helpful for getting animals to comply with commands or allow you to maneuver them. A hungry dog or cat will do just about anything for a morsel of food.

Rescue hammer

Hot cars can be a death sentence for pets, but a rescue hammer can save them from this fate. Rescue hammers are relatively inexpensive and are small enough to fit in a rescue pack.

It's important to mention that some states have laws protecting concerned citizens who rescue animals from hot cars, but not all states do. In some states, these concerned citizens could face destruction of property charges for breaking into car windows to rescue animals.

Call the police immediately if you see an animal left in a hot car. Breaking the window should be your last resort and something only to be done if the animal is in imminent danger. 

Contact info for local rescues

Keep contact information for local animal rescues on your person at all times. You may want to make multiple copies of the contact information, storing it on your phone and on slips of paper in your wallet and your rescue kit. Be sure to keep information for both pet rescues and wildlife rescues just in case.

First aid supplies

First aid supplies can come in handy if you get bitten or scratched by a scared animal. At the very least, you should keep a wound disinfectant (like peroxide or alcohol), bandages, and antibiotic ointment in your animal rescue kit.


Pillowcases might sound like a strange thing to keep in your rescue kit, but these are super helpful for containing small critters like birds. Pillowcases are thick enough to keep birds contained but thin enough to allow them oxygen. Don't want to mess up your pillowcases? A paper grocery bag works just as well!

Pliers, scissors, and wire snips

It's not uncommon for pets or wildlife to become entangled in wire or plastic. Be sure to pack pliers, scissors, and wire cutters in your animal rescue kit to help free animals if you come across this. Multi-tools are a great all-in-one option if you want to pack light.


You never know when you'll come across an animal that needs rescuing, and often this happens at the most inconvenient time. Come prepared with a flashlight or headlamp in case you have to work in the dark.

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