Oct 24, 2008

Emergency Home Evacuation with Pets - A Plan




If you have to evacuate from your home with your dog, will you know what to do? Do you have an evacuation plan?

I wanted to take time this week to talk about a topic that we may have talked about in the past, but I feel this is so important; we should update this and go over how and why we need to be prepared all the time for an emergency evacuation with our pets.

Last Tuesday, October 14th of 2008, here in Los Angeles, twenty minutes before I was to go on my weekly radio show, I heard overhead via a fire/police helicopter to be prepared to evacuate, as we were now being put on an evacuation watch. For those of you who don’t live in California this means get ready to evacuate with our pets and what personal belongings we could get ready to take with us. I had to call the radio station 20 minutes before going on live, and tell them I am now on a watch and I would not be able to do my show which they completely understood. I then started to get the three boys ready.

I had been watching television for the past twenty-four hours and was very much aware of all the fire storms happening around me, but the fires were at least forty miles away and I thought I personally was safe. I knew some of my family who lived closer to the fires had been evacuated, but I still did not think they would get as close to where I lived in Los Angeles. Imagine my surprise I then received a knock on my front door and was told by a fire marshal to be ready to evacuate with no more than a thirty minute (if that) warning.

The new fire was now 1 mile away from my neighborhood and it is time to really figure all this out. I have had been in 2 big earthquakes and I also had been in a fire evacuation before but I also had a husband to help me and this time everything was and is very different in my life which is why I am here today to help you to always be ready to God forbid you have to evacuate with you and your pets safely. The good news here is they wonderful fire men did get our fires out and the boys and myself are fine today but the message of being ready is one that is so important lets go over what to do and what you need to have on hand.

I always talk about the important of having a first aid kit in your home and car. It is also a good idea of you are a camper or go boating to have a first aid kit in the camper and on the boat, which should also have a “doggie” life vest if Fido goes boating with you. When it comes to evacuating there are different things you will need to take with you, which is why a plan is so very important, because God forbid if your home is damaged you could lose some very important papers you many never be able to get back.

For example you may not be able to recover your dog’s registration papers if you have an AKC registered dog. The same can be true if you adopted your dog, you may not be able to get papers replaced from the ASPCA or a place you can retrieve the information back from.

Here is what you need to do when it is calm, and there is not an emergency going on, in order to always be prepared. If you live as I do in the earthquake and fire country then you want to have an earthquake box filled and ready to be used at a moments notice. Remember to always have plenty of food and water, not only for you but for Fido also as a dog can go two weeks with little to no food but they cannot go for more than twenty-four hours without water, as they will die. So water is very, very important to have stored, and always have extra water in any vehicles you are driving.

Another important item to always have copies of is your dog’s shot records. In the case you have to evacuate and travel to another place due to a hurricane or flood, and then they will ask for a health certificate for your dog. You may not have that as they are usually only good for thirty days. However, a current shot record will help a new vet know exactly what inoculations your dog has had, and what they may need in order to get to another place or stay in a kennel if the emergency calls for that.

HERE IS WHAT TO HAVE READY IN CASE YOU HAVE TO LEAVE YOUR HOME
Pictures – this is something you cannot replace for you, your family and for Fido. So if you need to evacuate it is a good idea to try to keep your photo albums in one place; in case you need to go, you can grab all of them place them in a box and off you go with your memories and your loved ones with you. The material things can always be replaced, but the things you cannot replace, these are what you need to be know: where they are and be able to get them packed quickly.
Shots records
Leashes collars with up to date tags
Extra stainless steel bowls food and water
Towels for the car
Dog bed
Food – Kibble and canned enough for two weeks is what the Red Cross recommends to keep on hand. They also recommend rotating the food and water every year to make sure it stays fresh and is still usable.

It is a good idea to always keep your car with if not a full tank of gas, at least half a tank. I play this game with myself especially because gas is so very expensive I cannot always afford to fill my car. I fill up my car to full then when I get to the half tank I let myself know we are almost out of gas and then if I can only do $15 dollars on that day I still am more on the full side versus being on the empty side, in the case we have to drive and leave I know I have enough gas to get a good 200 miles away until I have to stop for fuel. Try this game I can promise you that it will come handy for you even if you never have to evacuate. You will never run out of gas at the wrong time and if you are a woman driving at night alone, again this is just a great safety measure to remember.

Another good idea is to have a plan practice fire drills with your family and be ready if it is just you and your dog/dogs like it is with me. We have a plan and we practice this once a month, not to make some big deal but once a month I make sure I know where everything important is and I make sure when I call the boys they come right away! This is on-going training and dogs love to keep their minds active as well as their bodies. So what I do is practice a game with the boys, as each dog is well-trained alone. It is when all three get on leashes that I need them to be calm and not going wild with excitement, because they think they are off to the beach, or swimming, to a pool or park.

I need them to be trained and calm at all times so we practice getting all our leashes on and staying clam. Sometimes we do not go out, sometimes we do; the simple fact is now the boys are trained to know when I call for a walk or anything that involves getting ready to go out with leashes on they have learned to all sit and wait their turn to have their leashes put on. If they get all hyper we start all over again until all four of us get it right. This is why I say practice this is a training tool that I promise you will come in very handy.

You may say my dog heels beautiful or my dog is calm, when I say let’s go for a walk; but if you know your dog can easily get nervous or excited then you want to start to train him/her to be calm when it comes time to go out or into the car. This way in case of an emergency you will always have full control of Fido and the both of you can get into the car calmly and move to a safe area never having to worry about the safety of your dog.

Trust me; my boys can be a wild PACK. Yes I said pack, this is what it is called when you own more than one dog and with three dogs I do have a pack and if one dog get excited then all three start so I must be the leader of my pack and I must practice all the time to make sure my pack is listening and ready to go. I do have a release word for the boys it is “OK”, and when they all hear the release word in the happy tone I use, then and only then do they know “OK it is time to play and we are released from the working mind set we are in at that time”. This is one of the best tools you can teach, to have ready in case you do have to ever leave your home in an emergency.

I hope you never have to evacuate, but in case you do the best plan is to be ready and to always remember no matter how prepared we sometimes are, things can and will go wrong, so by not stressing out too much, the best one can do is to try to be prepared and have a sense of humor. As they say “We make plans and then God breaks them”. If that is the case, know you have trained your dog and you have practice for an emergency. No matter what you can take with you or have to leave behind, what you do know is you both are ready and well trained.

See training never ends, it just becomes different and you can always find a new idea to train your dog. You can never have too many tools and you can never train your dog too much. Remember, just never do it for more than a few minutes a few times a day. Do not try to train your dog in one day with an eight hour session, as this will not work for either of you. Start off with five minutes a day, work it up to ten minutes a day and then maybe add another session so you have training time twice a day with your dog, but please, as with everything else go slowly and know you are both learning to be prepared.

Remember the animals in your life are not just your pets they’re your friends” WNR©2008

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