Pet Emergency Preparedness: Lessons Learned from Mother Nature
By Tom James
Natural disasters can strike at any time; when they do is not the time to try to prepare. Having your family and pets prepared for such catastrophes as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods will save you time to respond and evacuate, if necessary, and could very possibly save your or your pet’s life. The images of last year’s hurricanes along the Gulf Coast told it all. Thousand of pets became separated from their owners and were left behind. Some survived but, like their owners, found themselves homeless. Others found new homes, and a few were miraculously reunited with their owners.
Plan now by ID’ing your pet.
Wouldn’t you want to be able to find your pet in case of such an emergency? Start now by checking with your vet or shelter about a microchip that can easily be implanted under your pet’s skin. They’re about the size of a grain of rice and can be read by a handheld scanner. If microchips aren’t for you, by all means have an ID tag on your pet’s collar that includes a cell phone number or a number where you can be easily reached. Keep in mind that home phone numbers in disaster areas could potentially be out of service.
Have an emergency travel kit ready to go.
Items that are essential to have with you before you leave home include:
* Photos of your pet and proof of vaccinations
* A list of any medications your pet takes
* A week’s supply of fresh food and water
* Emergency numbers of veterinarians, shelters and pet-friendly accommodations
* Items that are familiar to your pet (favorite toy, blanket, etc.)
* A first-aid kit that includes items such as:
* Powder Styptic (toenail bleeding)
* Latex Gloves (personal protection from blood)
* Sterile Gauze Bandage (wrap wounds)
* Eye & Skin Wash (flush wounds)
* Triple Antibiotic Ointment (wound)
* Hydrocortisone Cream (rashes, itching)
* Iodine Antiseptic wipes (sterilization)
* Insect sting wipes (apply to insect bites/stings)
* Adhesive Tape (secure bandage)
* Gauze Pad (apply to wounds)
* Scissors (trim hair and cut bandage or tape)
* Hand Wipes (personal cleanup)
* Antiseptic Towelettes (clean wound or hands)
* Cotton Swabs (apply ointments or creams)
* Pet Care Card (detailed first aid instructions)
* Pet Emergency Card (record your vet’s emergency #’s)
* Plastic Forceps (splinters/tick removal)
Familiarize your pet with riding in a travel crate or carrier ahead of time.
Getting your pet used to a travel crate or carrier on short trips around town will help ease their hesitation to get in one in a frantic time of emergency or evacuation. Find one they’ll be comfortable riding in for extended periods with plenty of room and ventilation.
If you can’t take them with you.
* If your pet must be left behind, leave them inside with plenty of food and water. Food could be placed in more than one area in case an obstruction or flood prevents access to it (and to keep your pet from eating the supply all at once).
* If there’s time, fill a bathtub to provide enough drinking water in case a return to your home is delayed by days or weeks.
* Have pre-made notices ready to affix to windows or doors that tell rescuers of pets inside and how many. Free pet rescue stickers are available through the ASPCA under Disaster Preparedness.
Taking these few simple precautions can make the difference in saving your pet’s life or being reunited with him.
Tom James is founder and president of PetTravelCenter.com, an Internet resource website and online community serving the pet travel industry and pet lovers everywhere. Information about pet-friendly accommodations and destinations, RV parks, dog parks and campgrounds, tips for traveling with pets using various modes of transportation, recreational activities with pets, articles by pet experts, a photo gallery to post images of oneâ€™s pet travels, and special features, including a monthly newsletter for PTC Club members, are included in the site. In the fall of 2006, PetTravelCenter.com will roll out an online store of product solutions to make the pet travel experience fun and easy. Visit online at http://www.PetTravelCenter.com
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