Monday, June 1, 2009
Hurricane Season Is Here
Twelve percent of Americans live in a hurricane zone—they live in areas on or near the coast where hurricanes can strike. In recent years, we’ve seen that Hurricane Season is not to be taken lightly. If you live where your newspaper and grocery stores feature hurricane tracking maps or if you are among the one affected by Katrina, Rita, Dennis, Ivan, Charlie, Claudette, Bonnie, Gustav or Ike (just to name a few of the storms that have made headlines in recent years), then you need a plan for your pets.
I’ve developed the logo above, along with a spunky mascot, Toby Terrier, to highlight some of the best preparedness suggestions for pet owners throughout the season. So when you see Toby, you’ll find a tip or two for your own Pet Disaster Plan.
Today, we’re highlighting Crates, Leashes and Paperwork.
1. Crates: The best purchase you’ll ever make is in a folding wire crate for each of your animals. Folding crates pack easily but set up instantly to provide a secure place to restrain your animal. They are vital for advance evacuation—to hold your dog safely in a hotel room or pet-friendly shelter, or as a way to hold a pet if you end up stuck on the roadside or at a campground or a WalMart Parking lot. If your dog isn’t crate-trained, buy a crate now (you won’t find then on shelves when a storm is in the Gulf or cruising up the Seaboard) and make sure your dog gets used to it. If you have a strong dog or an escape artist, invest in a few snap latches to help hold the door and corners secure.
2. Leashes: Retractable leashes are not the best restraint system for the chaos and uncertainty of an evacuation. If you have to handle your dog in line with other people or in a crowd, you don’t have the control you need. Get a sturdy nylon or leather 6- or 8-foot leash with a strong snap. Make sure your collar or harness fits properly, too. A standard leash gives you more control over your dog, is less tiring for you, and can be tied around a pole if needed. Some leashes come with built-in rings that make it easy to convert a leash to a temporary tie-down. You won’t be leaving your dog tied with a leash, but if you’re stuck in a long evacuation or supply line, you’ll be glad you have a standard leash. Bring along your retractable leash, but don’t try to make do with one.
3. Paperwork: Now is the time to get your dog’s paperwork in order. Make copies of your dog’s current health and shot records, veterinarian contacts, rabies tags and microchip identification numbers. File those things in your go-kit. Make sure your dog’s microchip will scan (ask your vet to double check the chip to ensure that it hasn’t slipped or faulted out). Make sure your dog wears a collar with tags. Take several good photos of your dog—front, face, right and left side, and include these in your paperwork. If you have a puppy, update the photos as the puppy grows. You want to keep current photos in your go-kit in case your dog gets lost during an evacuation or in the chaos after a storm event. A cell phone photo won’t help you if you need to make “LOST” signs.
Toby Terrier says, “Don’t be tardy—be ready NOW!”