Monday, June 8, 2009
Disaster Prep Monday: Food and Treats
Toby Terrier, our Hurricane Preparedness mascot, like most dogs is always looking forward to his favorite meal—the next one. In the event of a planned evacuation, or a few days spent without power (some folks in our area went three weeks without power after Hurricane Ike last September), you need to add pet food to your disaster planning list.
If your dog has a favorite food from the grocery store, pet or big box store, keep tabs on how much you have on hand. When storm approaches, shelves empty out. You might be able to find Alpo, but not your pooch’s favorite flavor of Iams select. After a big storm, stores will be closed—where I live, stores were closed for a week and poorly stocked for up to three weeks, and we were well beyond Ike’s Galveston-area landfall in Montgomery County, Texas. Even if we had wanted to drive out of the storm area, we were reluctant to use the gas in our vehicles.
If you feed your pet a prescription dog food from your vet or a specialty food not easily found in grocery stores, it’s even more important to plan ahead. Post-storm, both animals and people yearn to preserve whatever routines we can, and switching kibbles or canned food is not something wise to try during this time. My advice is to keep an extra month's worth of canned and dried food for each pet on hand during hurricane season. Consider how you’ll keep open cans of food cool. We had a generator so our pets didn’t have to worry that the Science Diet canned food would spoil!
Be cautious about the risks of spoiled food. Don’t feed your pet questionable human or pet food. And be alert to the garbage that appears post-storm—-it will be extremely tempting to your pets. After Ike hit Texas and other parts of the nation, many folks had to empty their refrigerators. In our neighborhood, bags of refrigerator garbage lined our normally tidy streets. And because we had no power, dog owners walked their dogs a lot more.
But we had a close run-in with a purloined “snack.” A few days after Ike’s landfall, my husband came back from walking our dogs on their usual route shouting that he needed help with Taco, our 16-pound athletic miniature pinscher. I found him struggling to keep all four of Taco’s feet off the ground by clutching his harness. Taco had a big bird leg in his mouth and was doing his best to swallow it whole. He had picked it up in the dark of early evening (we had no power, so no street lights) and my husband thought he had a stick until he got home and saw gristle and a clawed foot!
I put my hands around Taco’s neck and gripped him firmly enough to feel the butt-end of the leg-bone in his upper throat. By squeezing against Taco’s throat and yanking on the clawed-foot (yuck!) we managed to get the jointed leg bone away from him. We call Taco “Mr. Bitey” because he can be nippy—and you can bet he was pissed that we deprived him of his treat.
How the bird foot—it looked like a rooster or bigger—got on the walking path we’ll never know. Maybe it was a game bird killed in the storm or a hunter’s catch dumped somewhere from a freezer. All we knew is we didn’t have an emergency vet available within a 100-mile radius two days after a major storm made landfall. We made sure to walk the dogs before nightfall after that.