Plan for your pets' safety before disaster strikes
We live in uncertain times. Some will argue this has always been the case, but for those of us walking the earth in 2010, the potential for emergencies and disasters seems to be on our minds now more than ever. The good news is, most of us have a least a vague disaster preparedness plan for ourselves and our families. But can the same be said of our plans for our pets?
Several simple steps can ensure your pet's safety in case of an emergency evacuation. The first thing to consider is getting a Rescue Alert Sticker and placing it in a visible location on your front door or inside your home. This lets rescue or emergency teams know there is a pet in your home. These rescue stickers can save your pet's life in the event of an evacuation, fire or health emergency. If you live alone and are unconscious, emergency workers need to know there are pets in your home.
Rescue Alert Stickers include spaces for your pet's name, how many pets are in the household, what species/breeds they are and the phone number for your veterinarian. If you are evacuated, it's important to write "evacuated" in large letters across your rescue sticker so emergency workers know your animals are already gone. Also, the Central Yavapai Fire District urges you to remove your rescue stickers if you move. Rescue stickers can be purchased locally at PetSmart or ordered for free online through the ASPCA at www.aspca.org.
The second step is to prearrange a safe haven for your pet. Please do not leave your pets at home if you are evacuated. And keep in mind that not all Red Cross shelters allow pets, so pet owners need to have a plan in advance. Identify hotels or motels outside your immediate area that accept pets so you'll know immediately where to head in the event of an evacuation or make arrangements with friends or family outside the Prescott area to take your pets in the event of an emergency.
Here in Yavapai County, there's an organization called Animal Disaster Services (ADS), which is a local volunteer group that coordinates with emergency management services of Yavapai County to create and maintain a shelter for animals in Yavapai County during times of natural disasters. This all-volunteer organization has been aiding local pet owners during emergencies since the Indian Fire in 2002. Listen to the radio during a disaster to find out the location of the ADS emergency animal shelter, which is usually right next to the Red Cross shelter. You can find out more about ADS online at www.unitedanimalfriends.org
Finally, it's important to keep an "evac-pack" for your pets that includes everything you'll need to sustain them in the event of an emergency. Everyone in the family should know where the evac-pack is, and it should be clearly labeled and easy to grab in a hurry. Include a pet first-aid kit and guide book, several days' worth of food, disposable garbage bags, pet medications, treats or chew toys, litter or paper towel, an extra harness or leash and bottled water.
Make sure your pet always wears a collar with up-to-date identification, including the pet's name, telephone number and any urgent medical needs and be sure to write your pet's name and contact information on its carrier. We also recommend microchipping your pet for a more permanent form of identification.
Microchipping is just $20 at our new spay/neuter and wellness clinic, which is located at 2989 Centerpointe East, just off Highway 89A at the Side Road exit. You can have your pet microchipped during our Friday vaccination clinics from 8-11:30 a.m. and 1-4:30 p.m., and no appointment is necessary.
Hopefully you'll never have to use any of the disaster preparations you've set in place for your family or your pets, but the peace of mind you'll get from having a plan is well worth the small amount of time and effort it takes to be ready.
KayAnne Riley is the director of marketing and development at the Yavapai Humane Society. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 445-2666, ext. 12.