Bet you can guess what this week’s column will be about! Emergency preparedness. It’s one thing to talk theoretically about fires and the need to evacuate when it’s happening in the next county and quite another thing when it’s happening in your own back yard. These recent fires were much too close for comfort, as I’m sure you will agree. With parts of Rohnert Park having experienced evacuation orders, it really hit home. Were you ready? Will you be next time? (Please say “yes”!).
So many points to make it’s hard to know where to start. One of the saddest things shelters are dealing with now is the large number of injured strays and the frustrating efforts to try and reunite them with their families. Would you be able to positively identify your pet if she or he were badly singed or discolored from the fire retardant and soot? We had one stray cat (at the time I wrote this) from the fire area that was a short-haired gray girl. We had four people who had lived in that area come and look at her. Four separate families lived in the same area with shorthaired gray cats! Finally, one family claimed her but there was still this thin amount of doubt if this was the right cat.
The quickest, easiest, cheapest, most effective way to positively identify a pet is with a microchip. We offer them free so there is no reason not to protect your pet with one, unless you don’t want to have him or her returned to you. No appointment needed - just come in during any regular hours with your pet and if you live in RP or Cotati – it’s free! And only $10 for those outside our service area - which is still a great deal! So, step one in your emergency preparedness plan is to get your pets microchipped. Do it today!
Another issue that came up is that most people had to evacuate so quickly that they didn’t have time to take supplies with them. They were lucky if they could catch their pet and get out of the house let alone pack up food, litter boxes and medications. There were many pet parents trying to get medications for their pets and their regular vet either was also in the evacuation areas or didn’t have power and had no way to get their records. Another veterinarian cannot dispense medications (assuming the parent even knew the name and correct dosage of their pets’ medications) without having examined an animal so people were caught in a frustrating situation. Fortunately, many generous vets offered free exams and could help figure out what meds the animals needed. Point being, either take a picture of the label or type in the medication in your notes on your phone (good advice for your own medications too!), so you always have that information available.
Do you have a crate for each of your cats, rabbits and other small pets? Are they up in the rafters in your garage? That won’t do you any good in an emergency like we just had. Have a plan B in place. It could be as simple as keeping extra pillowcases within reach or having some of the quick pop up cardboard carriers under your bed. VIP Pet Care is very generous about providing the latter and we have a stash at the shelter to hand out free, to whoever needs one (or two, or three!). Check off step two of your emergency plan and sleep a little better tonight. Stay tuned, more tips to follow in the weeks to come!