Emergency Planning For You and Your Pets

Photo courtesy of Olsen Vet Clinic

Wildfires, hurricanes, floods, and other natural disasters can strike anywhere, anytime. When trouble strikes, you need a clear action plan to get you and your pets to safety in times of trouble.

Have a plan! This 2-page checklist is one of the best I’ve seen; print a copy and keep it with you. For more information about pet-focused disaster planning, check out this page.

Create a list of pet-friendly hotels, motels, and campgrounds along your anticipated and alternate routes to safety—even if you’re planning to stay with family or friends. You can search online at Pets Welcome or Dog Friendly websites. Hotels and motels are not legally required to accept pets—even during natural disasters or a mandatory evacuation, so check websites and then call ahead to be sure your pet can stay. Some may accept pets for an additional fee, and others may have a limited number of rooms available for travelers with pets.

Build a go bag for your pets. Use a backpack, tote, or even small wheeled luggage to stash items you may need. Refer to the checklist and add other items as needed. Keep ID tags current. Microchips are one smart way to ID your pets. My Sasha and Buddy The Wonder Cat are both microchipped and registered with AKC Reunite. Make sure you complete your registration and keep contact info current.

Take photos today of your pets. Photograph them standing, left and right profiles, and straight-on head shots. Take additional photos showing you with your pets—that’s essential if questions of ownership arise. If you can tag or add metadata to each photo, that’s even better. (To learn how, click here.) Save copies to Dropbox and/or email them to yourself and others. That way, if you lose your phone or computer, you can easily retrieve them.

The not-for-profit  American Veterinary Medical Association has a wealth of information to help you develop a plan to care for your pets before and after disasters. Here’s a great video (less than 5 minutes) worth watching:

Build go bags for the rest of the family.  Children, older adults, and anyone with physical limitations may have special needs, so take those into consideration when planning your go bags. You can buy family-sized emergency kits or save money and make your own. The South Carolina Emergency Management Division has a comprehensive family emergency kit online. Find more resources and info at ready.gov and the American Red Cross (great quiz at that site, too!).

Keep your bags accessible so you can grab and go.

If you must evacuate and have a vehicle, add extra jugs of water, towels, tarps, ropes, and bungees. Duct tape, small hand tools, and plastic bags can be easily stored beneath a seat. Add tarps, ropes, and bungees; these may be some of the most important survival items you’ll need; they take up very little space and can be stored under the seat of your vehicle. If you have to be on foot, roll up the tarp and fasten it to your go bag with those ropes or bungees. Tarps are a lightweight and inexpensive way to provide shade and protection from rain. Pop-up tents are another option if you can afford the higher cost. They usually come in their own tote bag, which is handy.

It seems ironic, but water is often the most difficult resource to acquire in flooded areas. If you have space in your vehicle, add extra jugs of water–essential in all emergencies. If you run out of water you brought from home, the CDC offers a quick “how to” for making water safe for drinking here and here

Communicate. Let family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers know your plans. Social media can be a great tool to help you stay in contact. Always have a back-up plan, to include alternate routes and destinations. And remember: cell towers and Internet providers may be impacted by disasters, so share info ahead of time and take print copies with you in waterproof bags.

From the American Kennel Club:

Remember that you might not be home when disaster strikes. Plan for being away from your pets and/or being unable to get to them. Consider making arrangements with someone who can get to your dog when you can’t like a neighbor, dog walker, pet sitter, or local doggy daycare. And place a rescue alert sticker at your front door to let people know there are pets inside your house. Be sure it includes the types and number of pets you own as well as your veterinarian’s phone number. If you are able to take your pets with you during an evacuation, please write “Evacuated” across the sticker if time allows so rescue workers don’t waste precious time at your home.

Practice! If you had to leave home without advance notice, how long would it take you to grab your gear and herd people and pets into your vehicle?  Tip: keep travel crates, carriers, leashes, and go bags where you can quickly grab them.

When you think you have everything ready, run a drill. (Remember those fire drills from your school days? Same concept.) Practice in the daytime. Practice in the dark. If your pets don’t like their crates or balk at the idea of the vehicle, turn this into a game and reward them for playing along. The more often you practice, the easier it will be when an emergency does occur.

Plan ahead. Practice. Be safe!

Celebrate!

It’s National Dog Day!

In years past, we’d celebrate with a long walk through the meadows or the woods. This year, though, with heat and humidity pushing the thermometer past the high 90s and into the 105-110 °F range, we’re finding other ways to enjoy ourselves.

Treat time is always a morning hit, followed by squirrel patrol, play time when the sprinklers come on, and checking out the garden. We have a bumper crop of hybrid cucumbers that are so sweet you could almost believe you’re eating watermelon.  And since cucumbers of any kind are Sasha’s idea of the perfect treat, she gets all she wants through the hot summer. Add some Feta cheese to her meals and she is one happy dog.

Morning naps under a ceiling fan, afternoon naps on the cool tile floor, or evenings spent dozing in her bed beside me–she’s got a good life and she knows it!

Do You Know The Danger Signs?

Courtesy of Dogster.com

Did you know that hot temperatures can be dangerous for your dog? Add in high humidity and that danger can turn deadly. Here’s what you should know…

Feel confident you know the signs, but want a quick refresher? Check out these 11 Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion in Dogs, courtesy of Noah’s Ark Veterinary Hospital.

Want more info? The AKC’s Canine Health Foundation  has an easy-to-read bullet list of contributing factors, signs, prevention, and management in heat stroke situations.

UCDavis Veterinary Medicine shares the clinical signs of heat-related illnesses and risk factors for heat stroke in dogs. They note:

Causes of heat stroke may be non-exertional or exertional. Non-exertional heat gain is the result of being in a hot environment, such as a hot car, or spending time outside in direct sun. Exertional heat gain is due to exercise, such as playing catch or running. It is important to note that increased body temperature due to heat stroke is not the same as fever, which is caused by the body’s reaction to an infection or other disease process.

If you’re interested in learning more from an academic perspective, check out Today’s Veterinary Practice.

And one more infographic (click once to enlarge; click twice to read all the small print). Save and share!

Be safe!

Happy Birthday!

In AKC time, Sasha is seven years old today! We chose July 4th for her “official” birthday in declaration of her independence from the old and in celebration of her new life. She’s now formally recognized by the AKC as Ozark Summer Highlands Sasha.

For those new to the story, here’s a quick recap of how her AKC name came to be:

We chose Ozark for our locale and Highlands for her heritage; we’re actually in the Ozark Highlands, so it’s a double play on that last word. We included Summer because she has a warm, sunny spirit. And I wanted her call name included because she came to us with that, so including Sasha gave us a bridge between her past and present.

This sweet pup wakes up happy, every single day. She’s become a big fan of the post-breakfast ritual, when she enjoys a scavenger hunt for treats before wandering out to the garden with her best friend, Buddy The Wonder Cat.

Between trips to the park (with a brief bark-fest along the way, of course) and herding me through my own exercise sessions, Sasha has proven herself a champion at napping while I’m working in the office. Following dinner it’s more treats (dental chews, actually, but don’t tell her that) and then it’s time for evening patrol of the yard. This past week, she’s discovered lightning bugs and has us laughing at her excitement as she leaps and jumps in pursuit.

Here’s to another year of laughter and love with our sweet Sheltie!

From the World of Sheltie-Speak

I was skimming through sites focused on dogs, writing, and all things happy when I came across the latest from the blog Change is Hard, written by Dawn Kinster with frequent observations and opinions shared by her Sheltie, Katie. If you’ve spent any time at all with a Sheltie, you’ll understand when Dawn says:

“Katie says she has stuff to say. Of course she does. She’s a sheltie.”

And right on cue, Katie has an update for us today on her health, happiness, and continuing zest for life. The ups and downs of life are reflected in today’s post, aptly titled It’s been a tough few weeks.  Hop over to Dawn’s blog and read the latest!

Katie in her garden © Dawn Kinster 2021

If you missed Katie’s story on previous posts here and on Dawn’s blog Change is Hard .. but change is certain, you can catch up on all of Katie’s adventures and enjoy her mama’s fabulous photos taken during her travels.