As the American Red Cross and the Humane Society of the United States remind us in their Pet First Aid manual, "Disasters can strike anytime, anywhere."
We have experienced the truth in that statement several times in years past in Cleveland and Bradley County when tornados, a winter blizzard and flooding changed daily routines and wreaked havoc for many people and pets.
We also know, as experts emphasize, "Every member of your family, including your pets, will have a better chance of survival if you have a prepared disaster plan in place. These following suggestions may help in getting family pet safety plans accomplished.
- 1. If you have to evacuate your home for any reason, even if you don't expect to be gone for long, take your pets with you. Animal shelters, boarding facilities and veterinary hospitals and clinics will be full, overflowing with pets following a disaster.
After our last tornado locally some pets were blown over the Georgia border into Tennessee. Local homeowners whose homes were blown down sometimes found their pets days later after long, desperate searches.
- 2. Have a pet disaster supply kit ready to go at any time. It should contain a week’s supply of pet food and water, bowls, medications, medical records, a first aid kit, bedding, litter and litter box, leashes, grooming supplies, current pet photos and favorite toys. If possible, an additional water supply should be included in case pets get exposed to chemicals that need to be rinsed off.
- 3. Keep information about pets' schedules, medical needs and personalities with the name and number of your veterinarian along with names and numbers of several of your other family members or friends who live elsewhere.
Ask whether you could stay with relatives or friends if you have to evacuate with your pets.
Call local motels/hotels to see if they accept pets.
- 4. Keep identification tags with your name, address and phone number on pets' collars at all times even if they are microchipped.
- 5. Bring pets inside the minute you hear of an impending disaster. Never leave a dog chained in a yard.
- 6. If your pets do get lost following a disaster, keep looking for them. Check at animal shelters on a daily basis to see if they are there. Post flyers, tell neighbors, especially neighborhood children, tell your mail carrier and show him/her a picture of your pets. Run free classified ads under Lost & Found in the Cleveland Daily Banner. Call radio stations.
- 7. In case you are away from home before a disaster strikes ask a trusted relative or friend to evacuate your pets, tell them where your pets will be, where your disaster kit is, where your pet carries/crates are and give them a key to your home.
By planning ahead, before a disaster strikes, our human family and our four-legged family members will have a far better chance of survival with happier, calmer days ahead.
Paws up this week to: Judy Ursitti; Larry Bowers; Dee Rommell; Margie Carter; Kathy Erwin; Jeff Gunter; Nancy Pearl; Carla Boudrot; 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, 728-5414, or write to: E.S.P., P.O. Box 4864, Cleveland, TN 37320.