Planning for an emergency…Week 11

Finally, it's summer. Long days, warm evenings and some heat. Makes us want to forget about jackets and blankets for awhile. The bad news is summer has its own set of potential problems. Heat related illness and injuries affect both people and pets.One of my colleagues at City Hall mentioned his beautiful wife had recently brought home a four month old puppy from a pet rescue. I started thinking. This is likely a popular and smart thing to do during the summer months. The new pet owners have a little more time to bond with the new family member. Additionally, going for walks is a great way to get some exercise and fresh air. However, there are also a lot of things pet owners need to think through, and plan for, before they are 'ready' for an emergency with their new pet. This week let's apply our (now) standard regimen of obtaining supplies, developing plans and becoming aware of our local emergency problems to our pets. For simplicity, we will keep this message directed at dog owners knowing the same principles will apply for cats and other pets. This week, let's be sure we have 3-7 days of dog food stored for use during and after an emergency. The experts recommend we also store 3-7 gallons of water for each dog as well. Many dogs take specific medications and supplements, be sure to have an emergency supply of these as well. The easiest way to maintain emergency pet supplies is to simply buy the next batch of food and medicine seven days before the current supply is exhausted. But remember to stay disciplined and to not allow your dog food supplies to dwindle! Don't forget, you may need to have an extra set of wood and water dishes. As we all know, dogs require more than just food and water, they require some of our attention and care. If a disaster strikes or if your family were forced to leave your home, you would most likely take your dog with you. Do you always have a leash and collar in a certain spot in your house for use during an emergency? Many dogs get very nervous during and immediately after an earthquake. Some may need to be controlled. How about a printed list of your pet's medications and vaccinations? Have you looked into first aid supplies for your dog? They are available. The Red Cross offers pet first aid courses too. Some shelters or care facilities may ask for some type of medical history for your dog before allowing them to be admitted. You should also consider obtaining a sturdy carrier type box. Many dogs feel much more comfortable in their box and sleep very well there. Some plastic bags for picking up after your dog may also be helpful. During and after emergencies, dogs sometimes become separated from their owners. If possible, keep some photos and written descriptions of your dog for identification purposes. Always keep a copy of the identification information from your dogs 'license' tag with your records. Emergency planning for dog owners also includes knowing how to get care non-emergency and emergency care for your dog. The time to find a good vet for after hours care is not when your dog is in need of emergency care. An internet search of the Downey area shows there are a number of clinics in the City and the adjacent areas. Finally, take a few minutes and think through all of the heat related problems your dog could experience this summer. Tragically, every year dogs die unnecessarily after they have been locked in an unattended vehicle for 'a few minutes'. SEACCA has a short video warning of the dangers of high temperatures in locked vehicles on their website ( ) Other dogs suffer because their owners didn't ensure they had adequate water supplies or shade during the heat of the day. Experts advise older, heavier and snub-nosed dogs should be given extra attention during hot weather. If the pavement is too hot for you to walk on barefoot, it is too hot for your dogs feet and will radiate excessive amounts of heat as well. Treat your dog like a member of your family. Prepare an emergency kit, develop an emergency plan and know how the likely emergencies in our area will affect your dog. If you have questions or comments please e-mail them to Mark Sauter is a deputy city manager in charge of emergency preparedness for the city of Downey.

********** Published: June 24, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 10