Posts Tagged ‘Pet Disaster Protection’

May is National Pet Month

Thursday, May 14th, 2015
Coco and Henry

Coco and Henry

National Pet Month is a celebration of the benefits pets bring to our lives. In the United States, National Pet Month is observed in May; in the United Kingdom, it is observed during the month of April. National Pet Month is a time to promote the benefits of pet ownership, support pet adoptions, and raise awareness of the contributions made by working companion animals. During the month, many retailers offer sales on pet-related items, from dog food to toys.

Out of curiosity, I checked the “pet calendar” and found a number of days designated to various pet causes, from the seemingly silly (January 14 is designated “National Dress-Up Your Pet Day”) to the serious (February is “Spay/Neuter Awareness Month”). But for every month, there are certain tasks we need to do to ensure the safety of our pets in the event of a disaster. In addition to keeping “Go Kits” or “Emergency Packs” for each human member of the household and small business, we need to do the same for our pets. The “Go Kit” is the pack of supplies that we take with us in the event of an evacuation. It is a good practice to refresh the Go Kits monthly:

  • To ensure that the food set aside for emergency use stays fresh, each month, I take the food out of the “Go Kit” and use it while it is still safe and tasty to eat and replace it with new food provisions for take-away.
  • I verify that all of the medical records and vaccine information is current. I keep a record of this information in my smart phone, so if I have to check into a hotel with the dogs, I can prove that they are current on rabies and other vaccinations. I always update their electronic records after every visit to the veterinarian. But I also check it as a precaution when I refresh their “Go Kit” food.
  • I check that contact information for all of the pet caregivers is current in my smart phone, should I have to evacuate. My veterinarian recently married and moved out of state, so I just updated my records for the new vet who is assuming his practice responsibilities. This ensures that I have the current contact information available to anyone who presses the “ICE” button (“In Case of Emergency”) on my smart phone.
  • Of course, I perform the same “refresh” tasks for the Pet Go Kits as for the human ones, including replacing the bottled water each month and checking the batteries in the flashlights.

So I see National Pet Month as the opportunity to stock up on non-perishable items at discounted prices for the “Go Kit” for my cocker spaniels, Coco and Henry. But, as a pet parent, I celebrate them every month.

National Pet ID Week

Sunday, April 19th, 2015
Coco and Henry bonding

Coco and Henry Begin to Bond With Each Other

April 19 – 25 is designated National Pet ID Week, the time to verify that you have taken appropriate precautions to ensure that your pet will be reunited with you, if you are ever separated from one another. Unfortunately, too many pets become lost and homeless in the aftermath of a major disaster. If you have not yet seen it, check out “Mine”, an Independent Lens documentary about the fate of pets in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

On 9-11, many of my neighbors in Battery Park City left for work in the morning expecting to return home to their pets in the afternoon. They never imagined that the community would be closed and evacuated and that we would not be allowed to return to our homes for some months (I did not have pets at that time). My friend and neighbor Ariel joined the ASPCA in returning to rescue pets left behind in Battery Park City apartments.

The need to ID pets is critical. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reports that only 33 per cent pet owners have identification on their dogs and cats at all times. (The ASPCA website has some great tips for protecting your pet against the risk of a disaster.) Microchipping your pet ensures a safe, permanent means of identifying your pet should you become separated from one another. Collars can be removed and tags can be hard to read, but microchipping (a safe and painless process just like a vaccination) is permanent.

Be sure to register with the appropriate agency so your microchip ID can be traced back to you. At the time your pet is micro-chipped, you will be given information with a link to a website where you can enter your name, mobile telephone number and other information on the record of your pet’s unique micro-chip number. Be sure to update this information should you move or change your telephone number. And, as an extra precaution, on your next wellness visit to the vet, ask him or her to scan the microchip to make sure it is reading properly. Give the microchip identification number to your vet for record keeping should your pet need emergency care before he or she can be returned to you. I had both Coco and Henry microchipped. I paid $20 for each one. The entire process, including filling out the paperwork, took five minutes.

This is one of my favorite photographs of Coco and Henry. I had just adopted Henry from a local rescue shelter. Initially, Henry seemed very fearful and withdrawn. Coco would get in her little bed next to my desk and take her afternoon nap while I was working. Henry would take his afternoon nap under the bed in the master bedroom, away from us. Coco seemed baffled by Henry’s behavior until, over time, Henry began to feel more comfortable and safe in his new home with us. He began to participate with enthusiasm in our daily routines.

I took this photograph the first time Henry, without warning, climbed into the bed with Coco so that they could take their afternoon nap together, at the foot of my desk. Coco looked up at me, as if she wanted me to explain Henry’s unusual behavior. The startled look on her face is priceless. From then on, they took their naps together in the doggy bed. The last time I took them to the salon, the groomer reported to me that Henry started to cry when she took Coco in for her bath. Henry didn’t want to be separated from his sister. You would think Henry has been with us forever. And the micro-chip is another assurance that he will be.

Preparing Your Pets for the Unexpected

Monday, March 23rd, 2015
Doggy birthday cake

Happy Birthday to Coco

Today is Coco’s birthday and we celebrated with a birthday cake made at our local doggy bakery. The cake is not sugar-y and gooey as it appears in the photograph; it is actually made of hamburgers. Coco’s birthday reminds me of a resource I want to share, a workbook titled “Organizing for the Care of My Dog”. It is part of a series called “Wise Up! Workbooks for Organizing Life’s Information”. I came across this workbook when it was offered in a charity auction for pet rescue. The workbook offers a template for organizing your dog’s information to provide for his or her care in the event of your absence – planned or otherwise.  The workbook includes a draft legal trust for the care of your dog should be unable to do so, as well as basic daily care information that can help your petsitter.

I also want to share a link to pertinent information about preparing your pet published on, the pet rescue adoption resource where I found Henry at a local shelter. Their post provides a great deal of valuable information, particularly the insight that you should not leave the care of your pet to your local animal rescue organization, which is probably already overwhelmed with other abandoned pets in need of loving homes.

I probably like the Wise Up! workbook because it fits my general philosophy for being prepared to reduce your stress levels for an unexpected event, while helping everyday life to run more smoothly. So whether an extreme event like death or disability or more commonly, family vacation or a business trip, requires you to entrust the care of your dog to someone else, this book is a great resource. It is also a great value as the draft trust document can reduce your legal fees as you plan your affairs. I also recommend sharing it with your employees, as the better prepared they are to deal with the unexpected, the better prepared and safer your business will be. One final recommendation: after you have filled in the workbook, scan it in and store the digital file online. Your efforts would be for nothing should the workbook be lost in a fire.