Dog’s Eye View: Action plan for disaster
June 8, 2017
With summer finally in full swing, it really has me thinking about all the road trips and hikes and camping we do. And while I'm don't have a "Chicken Little" personality, I am more like a good Girl Scout. Preparation for emergencies is part of my being. I'd like to think that, in an emergency, I'll have what I need to survive until help arrives or I'll be able to be of assistance to others.
I don't smoke, but I carry a lighter and matches in my car. I also have a first aid kit with me at all my training sessions and classes. I also carry a flashlight, a multi-use tool, a folding knife and, yes, duct tape. I also keep a remote temperature sensor connected to the top of my dogs' crate so I can keep track of the temperature inside throughout the day.
It just makes sense to have what you need for when you might need it. If my car breaks down in an isolated place, I can keep myself and my dogs comfortable and alive for at least several days. I have shade screens, chill mats and a battery-powered fan. I keep water and a water filtration bottle, just in case, and also, a snack bag and food and treats for my dogs.
Fortunately, my car is big enough to store this stuff full time. My list changes, to some extent, from winter to summer. I want to keep us warm in winter and at least survive the heat in the summer. If something happens, I won't be wishing I had been more prepared. I also make sure I have a full gas tank before I head over the mountains or across the vast highways out here. If there is a delay and I must keep the motor running, I certainly don't want to run out of gas once the road opens again.
We've seen on TV the natural disasters occurring with weather-related emergencies. The folks in tornado alley survive by being prepared. Wildfire evacuations can happen with little time to prepare. If you keep a list and pack a tote ahead of time, you'll be much more comfortable if you have things like medication, access to money, a change of clothes, cellphone and some toiletries.
For your family pets, I would put copies of vaccination records, family veterinarian information, cellphone numbers and medical conditions in an envelope, and tape it to your dog's crate. Clearly label your pet's crate, if you can.
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If you can't take your pet to your evacuation area, then the place they are held will have the information they need to help your pets stay safe until it's time to reunite with you. If your pet is reactive, please list that, too. The person feeding and walking your dog will take extra precautions to walk when other dogs are not in sight.
Keep a picture of your pets and yourself in your personal belongings, so that, if there is any discrepancy or two people are claiming the same dog, you will have instant recognition. You can even add a copy of your family picture to the information in their crate packet. Make sure they are wearing a suitable collar and ID tags, including your contact information.
Dogs and cats who are crate-trained are much more prepared to relax in safe confinement. Their experience at home with short-term confinement will lessen their stress in an evacuation situation. If they are confined in their own crate in an evacuation area, then the stress level will be much less.
Our emotions run high in situations like this, and our dogs and cats pick up on that stress. They might not understand why their routine has changed. Crate training will help them cope. They are resting in their own home away from home.
Make sure if you are told to evacuate, you do so as early as possible. When you are called to take action in an emergency, you can be well-prepared with planning ahead.
Laura Tyler is a certified professional dog trainer with more than 25 years of experience. She has earned associate certification through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, as well as Certified Nose Work Instructor through the National Association of Canine Scent Work. She owns Total Teamwork Training LLC here in Northwest Colorado.