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Emergency Kits For Pets
Make It Easier For Rescuers and Emergency Shelters
From June 1st through November 30th is Hurricane Season along America’s Atlantic and Gulf Coasts; when tropical storms spin off the West coast of Africa and meander towards the U.S. Sometimes they make landfall, anywhere from Texas to Nova Scotia, and sometimes they stay out at sea.
Other coastal regions have slightly different begin and end dates for their hurricane season. But I’ll bet every year sees this one common thread: we think about putting together an emergency kit. But we never do, do we?
When a hurricane is 24 hours away, we strip every super market and convenience store of its milk, bread, bottled water and potato chips. Do we always think of pet food and pet supplies?
In recent years, we've seen loads of videos of natural disasters in which pets were isolated from their owners and trapped on rooftops or floating logs. Sometimes they were rescued, sometimes they weren't.
There are groups of dedicated volunteers who travel to disaster areas solely for the purpose of rescuing pets. We've seen them on the news and in documentaries. It all seems so distant and remote, like it could never happen "around here." Deep down, we know better.
And there are emergencies that aren't natural disasters, but that could cause us to become separated from our pets. We may have to evacuate our neighborhoods because of industrial accidents that release hazardous materials, or gas leaks, for example.
Your community may have predetermined shelters, usually in schools or the National Guard Armory, for just such emergencies, but they usually don’t allow pets. Can you imagine the chaos of a few hundred people and a few dozen pets crammed into the high school gym?
Those evacuations, which perhaps are intended to last for hours, could stretch into days, creating serious problems for our pets which are left at home. As part of a family disaster plan, prearrange evacuation sites for people and pets in your household.
Since you may not have the time or the opportunity to bring your pets with you, or otherwise attend to their needs, leave plenty of food and water where pets can help themselves.
A pet first aid kit is a good idea, too. That would help rescuers, whose supplies may be depleted, and is something you may need if you're able to bring your pets with you. An appropriate sized pet carrier makes a good container for your kit, and, on its own, is a useful item in an emergency.
The kit should contain the name and phone number of your veterinarian and nearby relatives or friends who would be willing to take your pets. Document any health problems and include medications being taken, and instructions on dosages.
The well-equipped first aid kit also contains a muzzle, collar and leash, an extra ID tag, immunization record, and a variety of medical supplies. Include rolls and pads of gauze, ace bandages or vet wrap, and adhesive tape (perhaps the hypo-allergenic type which won't hurt so much when removed). A sheet or blanket (which can also be used as a stretcher) is a good idea, plus clean towels and an extra blanket if there's room.
Other materials to have in your pet’s first aid kit include isopropyl rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, sterile saline solution, styptic powder, and activated charcoal. Include supplies such as tweezers, scissors, an oral syringe or eye dropper, and a rectal thermometer.
There are medicines that should be included, but you'll need to check with your vet on what to include and instructions for their proper use. For starters, write down and include instructions for Benadryl, canine aspirin or other analgesic, antibiotic ointment, and ophthalmic ointment.
You can include remedies such as Pectillin or other diarrhea medicine, anti-itch ointment for insect bites, and eye and ear wash solutions. A cold pack is another item that should be included in your first aid kit. Keep in mind the fact that medicines and some solutions have expiration dates.
If you’re assembling an emergency kit for your pets, talk to the staff at your vet clinic about it. They may already have established a checklist that is more detailed than what I’ve included here. With any luck you'll never need the kit, but it's a good idea to have it.
The past couple of decades have wrought calamitous disasters, not only in this country, but worldwide. We've witnessed gut-wrenching human suffering and billions upon billions of dollars in damage from hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, wildfires, flooding and landslides.
The havoc wreaked upon the Northeast by Hurricane Sandy was another in a series of wake-up calls reminding us that we really should be prepared for disasters, both natural and man-made.