Duck! It’s Almost Animal Safety and Protection Month!

Recent natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and Tropical Storm Sandy have highlighted the damage than Mother Nature can wreak when she sets her sights on human habitations, but the pain and suffering are not exclusively for people; estimates differ, but The Atlantic posits more than 600,000 pets were killed or stranded after Katrina. Eight thousand were rescued and cared for in shelters. The numbers speak for themselves.

To highlight the plight of animals and the potential for both human and natural abuse, October has been designated Animal Safety and Protection Month. (It’s not just natural disasters that animals need protection from – sometimes the enemy is us; animal abuse is an everyday phenomenon.)

When I was an intern, my first year out of veterinary school, I assisted in disaster recovery when drenching rains flooded large areas of California’s central valley, near Sacramento. The local fairgrounds became an impromptu shelter for hundreds of stray dogs and cats; and sick and injured animals were treated inside a cramped and very smelly camper turned M*A*S*H unit. I remember vividly treating a cat’s injured and swollen ear on a picnic bench after sedating it, which is, hopefully, as close as I will ever get to treating animals in a war zone. All of the 700 or so animals that we housed that week were refugees from someone’s flooded home, and I am sure that many never made it back to their families. These were the days before having a disaster plan was as common as it is today, and one that took pets into consideration was even more of a rarity.

We have done disaster preparedness before, but this is a good opportunity to go over a few pointers to keep your pets safe from harm:

1. Have a plan: Take a few minutes to draft a plan in case you are forced to leave your home. Take into account your family and your pets and make sure you have a rendezvous point and a back-up plan in case your rendezvous point is inaccessible.

2. Prepare: Have leashes and cat carriers (plus housing for any exotic pets) in an easy-to-get-to place in case you have to make a hurried exit. Make sure cats are happy to go in carriers beforehand. Try feeding them in carriers so they are not afraid and only associate them with vet visits.

3. Gather your supplies: Have a supply of pet food, medications and medical records in your emergency kit. When the levee breaks is not the time to be scrambling through the cupboards for medications! Ask your vet for an extra supply to keep on hand for emergencies.

Getting ready ahead of time is the smart way to protect yourself, your family and your pets. By this Halloween, when Animal Safety and Protection Month wraps it up for another year, make sure you have your plans in place and everyone in the family is onboard! Stay safe!


Editor’s Note: The SENTRY Good Behavior line of products would be an excellent way to help calm your pet after a fearful event like a devastation. For more information about these excellent calming products, click here.

-Photo Credit: From flickr by Alec Perkins (alecperkins)

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