Sunday, April 18, 2010

Prepare for your pets too!

The best time for disaster preparedness was yesterday.

The next best time is now.

There are many things you need to do to ensure that both you and your dog will be as safe as possible when trouble comes. Don't delay. Your dog depends on you to keep him safe!

An important aspect of preparing for a disaster is knowing what disasters might come your way. Determine the disaster threats in your area so you know what to be prepared for. Become familiar with the various agencies and organizations that can help you and your dog in emergencies.

Make your disaster evacuation plans, including where to stay and how you're going to get there.

Not all of them allow dogs.

Check in advance to determine if he can stay with you. There are plenty of places that allow pets, but they'll fill up fast as the threat increases.

There are two web sites that provide listings of pet-friendly accommodations. While their focus is on vacation travel, they're useful resources for quickly researching possible accommodations to add to your disaster evacuation plan.

Pets On The Go has a very extensive list of properties (30,000 plus) around the world that accept pets. You can search the US and Canada, or the rest of the world. They offer online booking for some properties, maps to them, and veterinary practices in the area. Inc. has a list of 25,000 properties that accept pets. You can search the US, Canada, Great Britain and France. They have an online reservation system as well.

They also offer a feature that allows you to enter your start and end points and receive directions and a list of pet-friendly accommodations along the way. They have a travel club for pet owners, which offers you a discount on accommodations at participating providers.

Once you've found a few places you'd like to stay at if the need arises, contact them and discuss your plans and what they'll require to keep a room available for you. Once you've found the one or two that best suit your needs, add their contact information to your disaster evacuation plan information kit.

Create a dog evacuation kit that contains everything he'll need for at least two weeks away from home. Ensure that you or a rescuer can easily find your kit and your dog when it's time to go.

You've done some planning.

Now you're working on your dog's evacuation kit.

Visit your veterinarian for help with any questions you might have about medications or keeping your dog calm during that stressful time. You might also have questions about some of the tools or supplies in your first aid kit.

Here is a list to discuss when you visit your veterinarian

Go over your disaster evacuation plan with your veterinarian. She might have ideas on what to do or bring with you for your specific circumstances.

You'll need medical information and records for your evacuation kit, including copies of all vaccination records, showing the date of the last shot. If your vet provides rabies certificates, ask for one.

You'll also need a complete medical history, including important test results (for example, heart worm) and any medical conditions your dog has.

Ensure that this information goes into your dog's evacuation kit as soon as you get home.

If your dog is on medications, ask your vet for an extra two weeks' worth so you can keep them with the evacuation kit or stored in the refrigerator. Remember to rotate through your supply, always using what's already on hand before opening what you just purchased.

If the medications require refrigeration, ask your vet how long they'll last without refrigeration, and how long they'll last in a cooler with ice or freezer packs.

If your dog frightens easily, or is generally nervous, ask your vet for advice on keeping him calm. She might suggest a certain medication, or recommend a herbal or aromatherapy treatment.

Ask any questions you might have about how to use a tool or supply in your dog first aid kit so that you know how to use it in case of an emergency.

Ask if the clinic will be evacuating as well, in case you need to board your dog somewhere. If they will be open, and you want to board him there, ask what arrangements you'll need to make and what items you'll need to bring.

You may need to visit your veterinarian if your dog needs medical attention when you return. Ask your vet if her practice will be open when you return. If not, ask her to recommend one who will be available.

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