As late December temperatures have been nose-diving in Southeast Tennessee, many of us are probably hearing about the ice and snowstorms in other regions of the nation and feeling thankful that we haven't had to deal with that kind of weather, especially during the holidays.
However, now is a good time to update our own personal disaster plans for ourselves and our pets in the event that we have the kinds of storms that did unexpectedly unfold in our area in the 1990s.
- Since disasters often strike suddenly it is vital to keep current identification tags on pets' collars with the the individual pet's family's name, address and phone number on the tag.
Microchip identification is also encouraged since Cleveland Animal Control and local veterinarians have microchip scanners.
- If you have to evacuate, take your pet with you, advises the American Red Cross and the National Fire Protection Association. "Your animal's best protection is to be with you," these experts emphasize.
In case you are not at home when a weather disaster is impending, ask a trusted friend or family member ahead of time to take your pets into their care temporarily.
Make sure they have a key to your home with information about specific pet needs and a location where you can be reached. Make certain the person knows and likes your pet, too.
- Call pet boarding facilities, motels/hotels and veterinary clinics ahead of time to see if they accept pets to board in the event of a tornado, flood, ice or snowstorm.
- Prepare your own seven-day pet emergency supply kit or carrying case with the following: pet medications and veterinary records; the name and phone number of your veterinarian; photos of your pets; food; portable water; bowls; kitty litter and pan, plastic bags and paper towels for disposing of droppings; toys and beds; crates; and emergency contact numbers. In plain view on the carrying case or kit, tape your name and phone number.
Though pets can get lost during a disaster despite emergency planning, the good news is that with persistence owners can sometimes be reunited with beloved four-legged members via intensive searches over an extended period of time.
I remember one sweet yellow Lab who was found by her human family some three months after they'd lost her. For more information, check out www.hsus.org. By simply taking a few steps ahead of time we can make a difference for our pets and ourselves if a weather emergency does occur.
Paws up this week to: Jimmy and Sara Lewis; Adra Trout; Pat Hardin; Mary Margaret Stamper; Terry and Olive Templin; Mike and Nina Steinman; and all who rescued a pet with the assurance of providing a long, wonderful life in a forever home.
Call me with your pet and wildlife stories or write to: ESP Inc., P.O. Box 4864, Cleveland TN 37320.