Powers: Preparing for an emergency is no fun, but it’s necessary
All About Pets
June is Emergency Preparedness Month according to the Human Society of the United States. Last week’s column was about traveling with pets. Preparations for an emergency are similar, but there are some important differences.
The primary message here is, if you are forced to evacuate, do not consider leaving your pet behind. The chances of him being there when you are able to return are slim to none. You must be prepared for either keeping the pet with you or having to leave him at a shelter because you are forced to be some place that will not accept him.
Naturally, the key here is being prepared. If there is an emergency, where would you go? How will you get there? Do you have alternate routes planned out?
Several years ago, while living near Payson, there was an evacuation due to a devastating fire. I was one of the volunteers accepting and caring for pets. The shelter area was outside in a big fenced-in field with no protection from the elements.
The owners of these pets were forced from their homes and because of shelter restrictions were not able to keep their pets with them. It all happened very quickly.
Naturally, the dogs coming to us for care were frightened and confused. We set up kennels for all of them, but you could tell that many of them were not accustomed to being kenneled and therefore, the stressful situation was made even worse.
Rule No. 1: Get your pet accustomed to being in a crate. Feed him in there and give him treats. Never use it for punishment. Always leave the crate set up with the door open so that he can learn that it is a comfortable and safe place. (With all the noise of the 4th of July just ahead, he will appreciate the escape and to make it more comfortable, cover it with a sheet so that it is his safe cave.)
Rule No. 2: Don’t forget to have the tote packed. The advantage to having the pack prepared is that you have things to make your dog a bit more comfortable when he might have to be in a strange place with strange people under totally unknown circumstances.
The Humane Society of the United States recommends having what your pet will need for up to five days. Stainless steel bowls that stack are great and sturdy. Have sufficient food and water too, enough for five days. Be sure to attach complete feeding directions. It is great to have a water proof pouch with the pet’s health records and a photo. Also in the tote must be a leash and secure tie out and any medication with instructions.
Each pet must have a secure collar with license and rabies tags and hopefully, the microchip tag. The chip is invaluable in an emergency.
While helping care for pets during this evacuation in Payson, I recall that one dog was diagnosed with Parvo. The message here is, make sure all vaccinations are current.
Have your name and contact information, as well as that of your vet and a relative or friend, on everything, including the crate. And don’t forget a favorite toy, a familiar blanket and a bone or something to chew on.
Naturally we hope this does not happen to us or to anyone but with fires raging around Arizona right now, it is important to be prepared.
Vitally important during this hot weather, keep all water bowls rinsed and filled with fresh water, both inside and out.
Christy Powers is a freelance writer whose passion is studying and writing about pet health, nutrition and training. She can be reached at email@example.com.