Wednesday, August 27, 2014

How to Prepare for Pets: 5 Key Points

Pets are an important part of our lives. Maybe I’m a bit too old school, but to me a kid growing up without a dog isnt having the full childhood experience.
They can fulfill some important roles when it comes to preparedness as well. Dogs can hunt and protect the family from predators. They can be excellent warning systems, even deterrents in some cases, but  above all, they are loyal partners, part of our family.
The following steps will help you prepare keeping in mind our furry pals:

1)Pet Supplies
Pets will have the same basic needs you have. They need shelter, food, water and medical supplies. Just like you store food for emergency use in your home, do the same for your pet. Dog food is cheap enough as it is. You can buy a big bag of dry dog food that will store well, rotate as you use it up, and always keep a good supply for emergencies. Don’t forget to keep your pet in mind when planning how much water you will be needing during an emergency. Some of the first aid kit supplies for humans can be used in animals as well, but talk with your vet and stock up on any medication your pet may need. A supply of flea drops for example makes sense. Apply this same logic to all your kits. Keep food for your pet in any kits you keep in your vehicle (3 day supply) or caches that you have in other places like potential bug out locations. Don’t forget to also include dog poop bags and kitty litter supplies. 

2)Pet Identification
Your pet cant communicate so its important to make identification as easy and as reliable as possible. A collar with a tag and your phone number is the first line of defense when it comes to lost pets. The problem is that tags can be accidentally or intentionally removed. An implanted chip stays with the pet and anyone scanning the animal will be able to return it to the rightful owner. This doesn’t apply just to pets lost during disasters. Thousands of pets get lost or stolen every day.

3)Pet Control
You need a way of controlling your pet when there’s an emergency. Dogs sense when people around them are nervous and excited. Screaming, shouting, confusion, a dog can easily run away, fail to obay command, even bite someone during a crisis. You need a fast way of controlling the animal. A sturdy collar and leash will do the job. The retractable walking leashes are usually flimsy, a short sturdy one should be kept handy for emergencies. A crate or pet carrier is excellent for quickly controlling the animal and transportation. With a crate it will be much easier to carry your nervous pet in your car during evacuation. In some emergency centers and for boarding some evacuation vehicles, having a suitable crate may be mandatory if you expect to bring your pet along with you. It is understandable that rescue services may not want to risk bringing in a loose nervous animal when there’s other priorities such as saving human lives.
 Midwest Life Stages Double-Door Folding Metal Dog Crate, 36 Inches by 24 Inches by 27 Inches

 4)Pet Plan

Make your pet part of your bug out plan. Can you bring your pet to your bug out location? Can you bring it to your family or friend’s house during an emergency?
Talk with your vet about vaccinations and stay on schedule. Ask him about shelters where your pet may end up if lost. Add these numbers to your contact list just in case. Have a buddy system by which one of your friends or neighbors can watch over your pet for some time if needed. You probably have someone doing so already when on holidays. 

5)Its just a Pet
People often get very much attached to their pets. They end up becoming part of our families. Some people even consider their pets the closest creatures to them, their children. While this is common we should never lose perspective of our priorities. Pets are precious to us but they are not people and if the moment ever comes you must not hesitate to put your safety and the safety of your family first. Only once your family is taken care should you worry about pets. Don’t risk getting caught by a fire, a flood or other disaster because of a pet.
In my case I had to leave our dog behind when leaving Argentina. A 40 day quarantine was needed, as well as tons of paperwork that we just couldn’t do in time. As mentioned in point 4, I did have someone that could take our dog in. He had a large farm with several dogs of the same breed and was happy to accommodate mine as well. If we had waited until we sorted out our dog’s paperwork plus the 40 day quarantine, there’s a good chance we wouldn’t have been able to leave Argentina. Sometimes you have to make tough decisions, accept the responsibility for your actions and do what’s best for your family.

Bonus Tips:

1)Treat your pet like a pet
A dog or cat isn’t a person, nor does it wish to be treated like one. If the owner fails to perform its role as leader of the pack, your pet will feel unhappy, not the other way around.  When a dog feels the owner isn’t in control of the pack (the family) the dog may try to take the alpha role. This can be dangerous with some of the larger, more dominant breeds.
2)No excuse for fat pets
Each time I visit the vet, it blows my mind to see so many fat dogs and cats. Last time I checked, neither one has opposable thumbs. Your Pit Bull wont be opening the fridge at 1AM to grab a piece of chocolate cake, its always the owner the one that overfeeds it, projecting his own feelings of pleasure and indulgence towards the animal under the following mechanism: “My pet is happy when it eats, I want my pet to be happy so I’ll feed it a lot”. In my case, my dog would eat five pounds of food beyond its healthy ration if I let it. He eats plants, plastic and metal toys as well if you let him. A lean pet is a healthy, happy pet that will enjoy a better life and statistically live 10% to 20% more than an overfed pet.
3)Get the right Pet
Stay away from exotic animals unless you really know what you are doing and when getting a dog, get one of the right size and breed to fit your needs. Don’t get an animal that needs lots of exercise if you don’t plan on walking it. Don’t get a known dominant or large breed if you have no experience with that kind of dog. 


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