Be sure to plan for pets in the event of a natural disaster

October 29, 2003

Last Sunday evening I watched the news segment on firefighters working the forest fires in California. The reporter was interviewing a fireman just in front of a number of chain link pens with dogs in them.

The fireman explained that they were trying to keep the fire away from the animals since there were too many to move. I watched with sadness as the smoke nearly fogged the entire area. There were 200 miniature pinschers in those pens and the fire was right in their backyard.

Later, I came across the Siberian huskies column in the October issue of the AKC Gazette entitled "Let's Get Ready" by Karen Morin. If the owner of the miniature pinscher kennel had read Morin's instructions, the kennel might not be doomed.

Here is Morin's advice to owners of one pet, several pets or even a large kennel like the one in California. First she hopes that everyone has included instructions of what will become of their pets in the case of permanent disability or death. Secondly she reminds everyone that there are short-term emergencies and that specific instructions should be considered, approved and written.


Now Boyle County and most of the surrounding areas are not prone to have vast floods like Frankfort and Falmouth, tornados are usually not miles-wide around here, trees and wild grasses are kept trimmed so fires are not devastating like in California, so most of you are thinking that planning for short-term emergencies do not pertain to you.

Therefore, it is important to remind you of the boxcar burning near Danville in April 2000. I was in an area that was evacuated and I had the presence of mind to take my animals with me. However, I didn't think to take their food and other necessities because I had not planned for such an emergency.

Morin makes these points when creating such a plan. Any person agreeing to care for your animals in an emergency should be able to tell which dog is where or kenneled with whom. There should be instructions on which animals can play and exercise together and which need privacy.

The feeding instructions should not say "Rover, 2 cups," but describe Rover (a picture would help) and his location, and plainly state 2 cups of whatever.

Additional instructions should include the location of the food, supplements and medications. These instructions should be taped inside a door or cupboard and the caregiver should know where to look.

Check your yard security and make sure your animals will come to the caregiver on command. Special needs pets might need to be placed with the veterinarian, so you should sign a general "consent-to-treatment" form, which will remain in your file.

Be sure your pets' health records are kept up to date so your pets can be boarded in a nearby kennel in an emergency. If you have a large number of dogs, you might want to split the number between several friends.

Still not sure this is necessary? If you break a bone, who will help you? |10/28/03***

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