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Protecting Your Pets!

Mark Decherd

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Okay, so you have your disaster preparedness kit all ready to go. Clothes, flashlights, bottled water, first aid kit etc. You know the best escape route; you have found the closest shelter and timed how long it will take you to get from your driveway to its parking lot. Outstanding!

But what about your pets? Does the shelter you chose actually accept pets? If not, they will simply not let you in - a difficult spot to be in when hundred-mile-an-hour winds are approaching from the west!

And, if you have planned an escape route and chosen the hotels/motels you would head to - have you checked to see whether they accept pets? Now is the best time.

How about a preparedness kit for your pet? Food, water (most of them don't drink from Evian bottles - maybe a bowl is a good idea). Perhaps moist food would be better because it will help reduce dehydration. Dry food should be kept in airtight containers because there might be a lot of humidity and water in the air. You will need at least 7 days of food for your pet (chances are that he/she won't care much for the canned ravioli you would end up sharing - or maybe he will!)

Do you have some sort of I. D. attached to your pet? In a disaster you could get separated. And how about some sort of back-up leash? A cat will need kitty litter - in a storm, you can't expect a cat to find a place out in a parking lot and hurry right back to you.

Is there a safe place (friend, neighbor, relative) you could leave your pet for a couple of days until you can get back from wherever you and your family have to be?

How about pet medications?

Okay, you get the idea, preparedness can really pay off for a beloved pet, so be sure to pay as much attention to getting him (her) ready as you would for your other family members.

Is there a safe place (no windows - good solid walls) where you could leave a pet for a day? If so, leave way more food and water available, than just a day's worth - water dishes that replenish themselves from a bottle, food bowls that do the same.

A friend of mine took a mattress from his kid's bed and bent it into an arc in a closet, creating a good, soft “roof" over his dog to protect him from falling objects and even persuaded the dog to sleep in the closet a few times for practice.

Which brings me to another point. Dogs and cats do not like hurricanes, thunder, lightning, tornados etc. If you sit out a storm in a closet or bathroom with your pet, do not let him (her) out until you have walked the house looking for broken glass, exposed wires etc. A dog or cat will walk through a pile of broken glass as easily as it might the front lawn. It simply has no experience with such things.

Also, they tend to bolt when they see all the destruction and are already “freaked out" by the noise, so be sure you have a good leash or have sealed off all the exits before you go exploring yourself. Otherwise you will be using the photographs you took as a precaution, to get the neighbors to help find them!

The point is that it is really scary to have to deal with a flood, hurricane, tornado or other natural upheaval. And the best way to protect those who are counting on you is to do it before disaster strikes.

And now that I have probably just added to your daily worries, perhaps you are wondering what else you can do to make your pets safe. Well, I thought you would never ask! Go here http://www.fema. gov/plan/prepare/animals. shtm for some free information and ideas from FEMA. They did a pretty good job of putting together useful information for pet owners who want to make sure their friends are as protected and cared for as they can be during a natural crisis.

Mark Decherd
Dryout Inc.


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