Tagged: “Emergency Disaster”

Pet Emergency Preparedness – Are You Ready?

Pet Emergency Preparedness – Are You Ready?

I found it hard to believe that after being away for three weeks I came back to find the same fires that were burning when I left were still not contained!  These disasters, and the current hurricane threat on the East Coast, are becoming more and more common.  Frightening, no?  Are you ready?  Are your pets covered in your emergency plans?  If the fire here last year wasn’t a wake up call, then consider this one!  Get prepared!

There are actually two different kinds of emergencies and although they have some common tenants, they are actually very different. In California, until recently, we mostly focused on earthquakes as the most likely emergency we would face.  In that case, we are told, we need to be prepared to survive for three to five days on our own before help will arrive.  That means we need to pack away food and water, basic toiletries and clothing and first aid materials.  Including food, litter and other necessities for all your pets.  Assume no electricity or phones and road closures so you have to stay in place.

The second type of emergency is something like the fires where you grab and go.  The whole world is not burning (although it may seem all of California is in flames at times) so as soon as you are out of the area you will be able to buy groceries and clothing.  Then what you need to grab from your home – besides your family and pets – are your valuables and irreplaceable items like photos.  It was interesting to hear about some of the things people took with them during the fires last year.  People packed their cars with toilet paper and water and lost precious pictures and family heirlooms.

The part that’s the same for any kind of emergency is to have a plan on how to catch and transport your pets.  Do you have cat carriers handy?  Is your dog’s leash always in the same place so it’s easy to grab?  Do you have pictures of your pets in case they disappear?  Are they microchipped so they will be easy to identify?  What are you waiting for?  Microchips are free for Rohnert Park and Cotati residents at the shelter!  Do you have a list of any medications your pets are on?  A great idea I recently heard was to take a picture of the bottle of all medications so you can show to a veterinarian if you need to evacuate and get a refill.  Take a picture of their vaccination records too so you can show proof if needed; then you are not trying to remember to grab a file and shuffling through papers.

Do you have a bag packed with some of your pets’ food and litter if you need to grab and go?  Do you know where you would go that will accept pets?  More and more emergency shelters are allowing pets in with their owners if they are pet and people friendly but you might want to have some back-up options ready.  And pick someone that lives out of the immediate area that can be your central contact in case you and other family members get separated.  Make sure that person’s contact information is programmed into everyone’s phone.

There are some great resources for lists and suggestions on what to have in your emergency kits for pets.  Instead of listing those items here, I’ll just refer you to these websites: www.redrover.org/resource/pet-disaster-preparedness and www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/pet-disaster-preparedness and www.humanesociety.org/issues/animal_rescue/tips/pet_disaster_preparedness_kit. What I didn’t realize when I first set-up my emergency containers is that’s not the end of the work.  You can’t just pack it once and forget about them.  The food and water you store away must be continuously rotated or when you need it years later you will be sadly disappointed that everything is spoiled.  Being prepared for emergencies is a continuous process.  Pick a date or day of the month that you will focus on this important task.  As a family do a drill and check your supplies.  Better to be ready and not ever need it than the opposite, right?

Would You Be Ready for Harvey?

Would You Be Ready for Harvey?

You’d have to have had your head in the sand for the past week if you don’t know about Harvey.  This is probably the largest and most costly natural disaster to have ever happened in the United States since we started tracking storms. The category four hurricane did an immense amount of damage to one of the most populated cities in the US. And after the winds died down, the rain continued causing horrendous flooding. Even though people had warning and knew it was coming, the severity of the storm took everyone by surprise and many people were forced to evacuate without much notice.

A major difference between this hurricane and Katrina, which hit 12 years ago, is that this time people were encouraged to take their pets with them. It was a hard lesson learned that people refused to vacate their homes without their pets and new laws came about ensuring that people’s animals would be included in all future disaster plans. It’s interesting and a bit sad, how judgmental people are about others in life-threatening situations. I’ve heard people say repeatedly, no matter the situation, “Oh, I would never leave/give up my pets.” But there are myriad reasons why it could happen that pets get left behind. So, in addition to having to set up facilities for the pets of the evacuees, there is a huge effort to go back through the areas affected and rescue any animals that were left behind. There are several national groups assisting the local agencies and donations are needed to get this work done. Sadly, there isn’t one group overseeing this so donate to a group that you trust – HSUS, ASPCA and Best Friends are all there and the Houston SPCA is also in need of support.

In addition to pets in homes, there are the strays that never had a home, livestock and wildlife — all equally affected and in danger. There have been so many heart-warming stories shared on Facebook about people with boats going around to help their neighbors (and strangers) evacuate.  Shelters across America have stepped up to accept animals that were already in the Houston area shelters so that they would have the space to take in the new evacuees. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg so to speak.

It’s great that people could get their pets out of their homes and  stay together in the emergency centers that were set up. But once the immediacy of the moment is over and people move on to stage two of a critical situation, which is cleanup and assessment, the question remains where will these people and pets, go? Many not only lost their homes in this disaster but they lost their jobs too when nearby businesses were destroyed. Without a means to support themselves and no home, these people are at the mercy of family or friends who are willing to take them in – and sometimes the pets are not as welcomed. Often the logistics and expense of keeping the pet they rescued becomes too much and in the end, they get surrendered. What a heartbreaking situation to be in.

It’s a good time to check your own emergency disaster plans and kits. They say to be prepared to be on your own for about three days. Do you have pet food included? A printout of any medications your pets are on? Do you have a designated person outside your immediate area that all family members know to use as a contact person? Carriers and crates for your pets so you can take them with you into a motel or evacuation center? Extra litter and a litter scoop that is easily assessable? Are all your pets microchipped and wearing collars and ID tags to make reuniting you with your pets easy? Reminder that both are free to RP and Cotati City residents at the RP Animal Shelter – glad we can help you check one item off your list!

If hearing about Houston is not enough to get serious about planning for an emergency then you truly are living with your head in the sand. Know that your pets are counting on you to be prepared and able to provide for them during whatever nature throws our way – power outages, heat waves, flooding, hurricanes – or in our area more likely, earthquakes.  I hope you’re ready!