Thursday, July 12, 2012

Is your four-legged friend a part of your disaster plan?

My 13 year old girl
Unexpected, severe storms hit our area last week, taking out the power and telephone service to a wide area around the DC Metro  region.  We lost power for a little over 36 hours and with the heat index over 100 degrees during the day, temperatures were brutal.  The temperature was reading over 80 degrees on the second floor of the house, while the downstairs felt much cooler.
As we left the house on the second evening without power I thought to myself, how much longer can we (humans) take the heat, but what about Abby, our 13 year old Chesapeake Bay Retriever?  Returning home that evening, as we were praying for the power to be on, I wondered how Abby had fared all alone in the heat. She did fine, but if power had not been restored the next morning, would she have been able to endure the rising heat in our house?

My family lovingly teases me about my need to always be prepared in any kind of situation.  I quiz my kids on 'what if' scenarios, have my funeral all planned out, a well stocked first aid kit, plenty of food to last us for about a week withoug power, extra blankets, flashlights and emergency hand crank radio.  Abby even has a separate resealable container with dog food to last at least a week.  Ample warning is usually given prior to an upcoming snowstorm or hurricane, so it's easy to restock on supplies, but this storm, with it's lighting and extreme high winds took everyone by surprise.
Questions I had never asked myself.
What would I do with Abby if the power outage had lasted over a week, especially during an intense heat wave?  Take her to a friends house who had power? Would they gladly take her?  And what would I do if we had to evacuate the house and go to a shelter?  What if the shelter didn't take pets?

The Humane Society of the United States website became a great resource in answering all those questions and this is what I came up with.

Abby's Disaster Preparedness Plan

  1. Dog Food and water for at least a week in resealable container.
  2. If we need to evacuate, place the dog crate in car along with bag filled with plastic bags to collect poop, an extra leash, copy of vaccination records and bowls for food. 
  3. In case of long term power outage during summer months, call on friends outside the DC Metro area and ask to shelter Abby until power is restored.
Abby's Emergency kit: Dog food for two weeks, and her own bag filled with her supplies.

Abby is a member of the family, I wouldn't leave my kids behind, why would we leave her? Do you have a plan that includes your pets?

Knowledge is power and knowing what to do in an emergency decreases your fear and words of wisdom.

Now is the time to think about disaster preparedness for you, your family, and your animals. Please visit the Humane Society of the United States for advice on disaster planning for pets, horses, and farm animals and make sure you're ready for an every day emergency.