JustOneMorePet

Every Pet Deserves A Good Home…

Keeping Our Pets (Animals) Safe – Part I

I’m a high school student in Northern Virginia, and, although I see how much devastation a disaster can cause in other areas of the country, our community generally doesn’t get hurricanes, tornados or wildfires.

Of course, we hear about tsunamis, floods, or fires, but they seem far away, unrelated to my day-to-day life. If I pay attention at all, I only hear about the pain and loss to humans, but not what happens to their beloved pets in the aftermath of a disaster.

All that changed for me when Katrina struck Louisiana and Mississippi. My mom, who works for The Humane Society of the United States, went down to help the four-legged victims who were also in desperate need of attention. She helped with everything from going into the city and breaking windows and doors to bring animal victims to safety to matching the descriptions of beloved cats and dogs with their owners to grooming horses and cleaning their manes and hooves. She tried to give all of these animals some dignity in the middle of chaos. It really struck me that I had no idea how my family would care for our pets in an emergency but I was certain, I didn’t want my pets, or those of my friends and neighbors, to end up like these dogs, cats, horses, and even parrots and iguanas had.

Our pets are a huge part of our family that we could never leave behind. We have two dogs and a horse that is boarded about an hour away from our home. I know that if an emergency happens that they are not all going to fit in the back of our SUV. And even if they did, I knew from the reports from New Orleans, I wouldn’t know where we could go. So I began to form a plan. But then I thought, I have a plan for us, but what about Obie, the cat next door? Or Jenny, the dog, that lives down the street?

I decided to organize an Emergency Preparedness day for my community. I knew I couldn’t change the world, but with this little effort I might encourage my friends and neighbors to consider developing a plan so, unlike some of the New Orleans residents, they, and their pets, might have a better outcome, if disaster struck. I chose a nearby park and called the police, our animal control agency, FEMA and our local County Supervisor, as well as the Red Cross, and asked them to help me encourage our community to develop a plan. I also distributed Ready pet brochures to everyone who attended.

What I found, even after Katrina, is that everyone had questions and the answers weren’t easy to find. The toughest was what are the emergency evacuation routes? I had to talk with the state’s Department of Transportation to get this information. This shows the importance of thinking ahead and really planning in advance.
To make sure my horse was well cared for in an emergency situation, I got her micro-chipped so my phone number, her vet and several emergency contacts were stored in a secure database. This is a very simple step that can ensure your pets will be returned to you if they get separated from your family. I also now plan to spray paint my phone number on her if I am ever separated from her. She may not be pretty, but if someone finds her I know I have a better chance of bringing her home.

The other thing my family did was to add extra pet food and supplies to our emergency supply kit. My family was featured in an instructional video for Ready.gov that explains how to deal with emergency preparedness for pets. You should check it out.

I think the thing I really learned from Katrina, is that, like my family, there are many Americans who consider their pets a part of their family, and they will protect them as they would a son or daughter. What we need to do, in our families, communities, and country is to be responsible and plan for our entire family, which includes both our two- and four-legged members, so that if, and when disaster occurs, we all are cared for and can survive. I hope, in some small way, I have helped my community achieve this goal.

Cricket Clayton – Originally Written and Posted Sept 2008

Source:  National Preparedness Month

Everyone should have an emergency bag for themselves, their families and their pets for minor emergencies and then emergency plans and supplies for major emergencies for themselves, their families and their pets… one for evacuation situations and one for stationary (stay at home) long term emergencies.

Posted: Just One More Pet

October 9, 2009 Posted by | Animal Abandonement, Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Rescues, Animal Rights And Awareness, animals, Just One More Pet, Pet Health, Pet Nutrition, Pets, responsible pet ownership | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment