June is Emergency Preparedness Month. Here in the Rim Country, we know the danger and real fear of forced evacuation due to fire. The Humane Society of the United States offers complete guidelines for preparing for a disaster.
Step one is to prepare an emergency kit for your pets. Dogs and cats have different needs and may need to be housed in different locations, so each should have their own kits. Duffel bags work great for emergency supplies. Keep a list of necessary items in the kit so you know that what you need will be there when you need it.
Food and water for at least five days is essential. Stainless steel bowls stack together and will not break. Have a bowl for food and water for each animal. They may be confined for long periods and will need their own water supply. If you feed canned food, be sure to bring a manual can opener. Pets should be kept on their normal diet during an emergency, so have a supply of dry and canned food.
Medical records and medications should be kept in a waterproof bag in the kit. Make sure that all vaccinations are current. A photograph of each pet should be included with medical records, as it will help if your pet becomes lost. Include the name, phone number and address of your veterinarian. Also, include information about any special medical conditions or dietary restrictions. A pet first aid kit may come in handy.
Sturdy leashes and collars, as well as chew-proof tie outs, are a must. Cats must have an escape-proof harness.
Each pet should have a folding kennel or crate large enough for him to stand comfortably and turn around. He may be in it for hours at a time. Having his own kennel will ease his anxiety during the confusion of an evacuation. Include a soft cushion or blanket, a soft toy and something to chew on. If your pets are not used to being in a kennel, set them up in the house and accustom them to it ahead of time by feeding them or giving wonderful treats. The trauma of evacuation will be far less stressful for your pets and for you if they are comfortable in their crate. A pet showing up at an emergency shelter without his own crate will be put into some kind of enclosure totally foreign to him. Avoid the stress. Bring his folding house with you. Also, you might be staying at a motel or with friends and having his own crate will be comforting to him.
Identification is key. Dogs should have identification tags with cell phone numbers and the phone number of a friend of relative outside of the evacuation area. County licenses are helpful for locating lost pets. Microchips are great, but be sure to attach the tag to his collar showing that he has the chip. Microchips are forever, but have no value unless the pet is scanned. Most responsible pet-finders will take the found pet to the humane society or veterinary office to be scanned. Through this chip you will be contacted, so keep this information updated.
Plan ahead and know where you will go in case of evacuation. Will you head to a motel or a relative or will you depend on emergency shelters? Most shelters do not allow pets. Emergency dog care will be available in an emergency at the Payson Off-Leash Dog Park in Payson. They will have information about where you can take your cat. Have the medical records handy.
Most importantly, do not leave your pets behind. According to the HSUS, "Animals left behind in the house can easily be injured or killed. Animals turned loose to fend for themselves are likely to become victims of exposure, starvation, predators, contaminated food or water or accidents. Leaving dogs tied or chained outside in a disaster is a death sentence."
In the event of evacuation, it is comforting to know you are prepared. You may think you will only be gone for a few hours, but it might be days. Take your pets with you. If fire threatens, don't wait for a mandatory evacuation. If you wait to be evacuated by emergency officials, you may be forced to leave your pets behind. Have a route planned. Know several routes to get to where you want to go. If you have an RV, it can be stocked and ready for an emergency.
Everything is bone dry. If a fire starts, it will be hard to stop, particularly with a high wind. Let's be ready to get out safely and provide for the safety of our pets. They depend on us to take care of them. For more information, visit ww.hsus.org/hsus.
Incidentally, it is amazing the amount of water our pets can consume during this hot weather. Have several bowls of water both inside and out and make sure that they are full and fresh. Rinse the bowls daily.
Free training class
If you recently adopted a dog from the Payson Humane Society, you are entitled to a free training class taught by Lori Chandler and Margie Mansell. This class will be Wednesday, June 13, at either 9 a.m. or 6 p.m. at the Pine Arena. Call Margie to register at (928) 478-6489.
A new series of traditional obedience classes will begin on June 20 at either 9 a.m. or 6 p.m. Call Margie to register.
There will also be a class beginning soon on clicker training, Rally and other fun stuff. Call me, Christy, for more information at (928) 476-2239.
Don't forget the Spay/Neuter clinic at Bashas' parking lot on June 19, 20 and 21.
-- Christy Powers can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by snail mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.