Jun 28, 2008

Disaster Preparedness for Pets by Elizabeth

I've thought about this for the last week or so, whether or not I should make this posting. But, finally came to the decision to do so, as it weighs heavy on my heart.

I'm sure I don't have to remind anyone how precious our pets are to us.

I am enamored of my ancient 18 year old kitty, too. She sits at my elbow right now forcing me to type one handed. I'm sure we have many in the group who are owned by their dogs, I mean, who are dog owners. (hope to see some soon).

When a friend recently mentioned about going to the Rescue Shelter, it nudged me to go there too. Not because I need a new kitty, or want one in paticular, but because it has become apparent that Keli needs one. As much as she might dislike an interloper, she is lonely when I am gone, and even when I am here, .she would rather have feline company to help her harangue me. (she tells me so).

So the other day, I went to the shelter. But, instead of coming home with a new pet, I came home with an aching heart. Right now the shelters are overflowing with animals rescued from the fires. Bunnies and Chickens, and goats, and dogs and cats. You name it. The news had been presenting a lot about people evacuating their horses and livestock. But, I hadn't thought that people's pets wouldn't be safe. My cat would go into my car before my purse or family photos or my grandmother's antique vase. I would carry her in my arms (in cage) if I couldn't get away by car.

Of course if an owner isn't home when the fire starts and his dogs are outside on his property, there isn't much he can do to save his dogs (or cats). In the rural areas where these big fires are decimating the forest and brush, people's pets do not necessarily live indoors. The shelter had gone into the fire areas with their trucks and rescued as many pets as they could. Many were injured by fire. All were nervous and traumatized. Too many have gone unclaimed by their owners now that the fires in my immediate vicinity area are out. I couldn't bring myself to adopt a kitty who would not get my full attention for healing. It wouldn't be fair to Keli, It wouldn't be fair to the fire cat.

All this being said, I just had such an epiphany about it. We make preparations for disaster (don't we?) We put away food, water, medicine and blankets for those times when flood, fire, earthquake, etc. occur. We make plans for where the family will go if we can't be in our homes. But, when we are making all those plans, do we include our animals? Not me. the thought hadn't crossed my mind.

When I put aside canned goods and emergency lights and bandages in the garage, I didn't put away any cat food. In case of a true disaster, my cat will be one of those ending up in the shelters, and because of her advanced age, euthanized, as it is the young ones who get adopted when their owners cannot be found. I learned that when I went to the shelter to find an older cat to be companion to mine. No older ones available.

My cat doesn't wear a collar with an ID tag. She doesn't have a computer chip. That will change this week. I don't expect the fires to embark upon my own neighborhood. It was the other side of Watsonville that was so closely involved in the fire last week. I'm surrounded by strawberry fields where I live. Only smoke will bother me. But, I do live in a flood plain. It hasn't flooded in years, but it's best to be prepared.

Just putting my thoughts on all this out here. Have you thought about your own disaster preparedness? What plans have you made for your pets? Who will take care of them if you are not able to? How will they be kept safe? How will you prove they are yours if they have no ID on them?

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