Sunday, April 18, 2010

Earthquake Preparedness for Your Pets

With the earth shaking the way it has the last few weeks, I thought we should include a blog post about Earthquake Preparedness for our four legged family members. Here is what I have included in ours:

Food – 2 bags each (dog and cats)
Bottled Water
Bowls (food, water)
Medication (Lily)
First Aid Kit (which includes a booklet on first aid for companion animals)
Poop Bags
Litter box/Litter/Liner
Extra Leash
Extra Collar
Copy of all Medical Records

We always have two bags of food for the pets at all times. You want to have at least a week supply of food in case the pet stores aren’t open to get your pets food. We use one bag and keep the other for reserve. As we start to get to the bottom of the first bag, we immediately buy a new one. This way, we always have at least a bag and a half of food for our pets. We also keep wet food. Should anything happen and water be in short supply, canned food will give them some hydration. Canned food can keep outside of the refrigerator for 24 hours if stored properly (covered, in a cool location).
I included treats because Lily is food motivated. If we need her to be focused on us, the treats will help grab her attention immediately.
I have enough water in the earthquake kit that our four animals can drink half a gallon of water a day. We have supplies for seven days. Even though pets can drink from sources unsuitable for humans, we don’t know what kind of contaminants will be in our water supply. It’s not worth risking stomach and intestinal irritation when there won’t be a vet handy to treat our girls.

We picked up a first aid kit for animals at a sale that included a booklet on treating your pet’s injuries. You don’t have to purchase a complete kit, though. You can google pet first aid kits and simply make your own (shout out to Anthony and Molly who hike with one Anthony made himself that rivals ours!).
We have Lily’s medication in an easily accessible place where we can grab it in an emergency, throw it in the kit and go. We never let it get below a seven day supply. Better safe than sorry.
We have copies of the girl’s medical records in the kit. I put them in a plastic bag to keep them dry. Lily’s shot records, microchip information and registration are in hers. The cats have copies of their shot records in theirs. We also have a current picture of each of them in case we become separated.

Just because there has been an earthquake doesn’t mean we no longer have to clean up after our pets. This will be especially important for sanitation in the event of an earthquake. We have included biodegradable poop bags for Lily. We also have an extra litter box and some litter in the kit because we don’t know where we will end up with the girls. Some experts recommend using sand in an emergency, which is certainly doable, but you will need to include litter box liners with your kit if you plan to do this. We have relatives in San Diego, Arizona, Oregon and Washington that all have opened their doors to us in an emergency. Because we will be indoors, we won’t need to resort to sand.

We’ve included familiar blankets for our pets that we rotate with each laundry cycle. In the uncertainty of the situation, it will help them to have familiar things like blankets and toys around them. The cat carriers and extra leashes are kept together in our den. They are easily accessible should we need them.

If an earthquake does hit, do not try to pick your animals up during the shaking to comfort them. Animals will instinctively seek a place to hide in safety. Wait until the shaking has subsided to locate your pets in your house. Assess the damage and decide if it is safe to remain indoors or if you will be moving to another location. Remember that this is a traumatic event for your pets. Use caution in handling them. They will be upset from the trembling and the noise. Even a gentle pet can bite or scratch when scared.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Chica the Chihuahua

We are teaching at a school this week in North Hollywood that holds a special place in my heart. This school taught me a year ago that what we do at Paws and Learn Humane Education truly makes a difference - in the lives of the children we teach and in the lives of the animals we will never see. Below is the story of Chica the Chihuahua:

I changed the life of a dog named Chica and I've never even met her. I was teaching a 2nd grade class Dog Bite Prevention when I first learned of Chica. This presentation starts by getting the kids to think about things our pets need that we need as well (food, water, exercise, doctor, love). We then move into feelings that we share with our pets (happy, sad, mad, scared). I ask the class "if our pets have the same feelings that we do, is it ever okay to hit an animal?" At this point, the whole class shouts "no" and I move into Dog Bite Prevention. This particular morning, a boy in the front row interrupted me. "Especially if you're trying to potty train them." Very astute for a 2nd grader. After agreeing with him, I asked him what he does with his dog. "When Chica starts to go, we clap our hands and say 'AH!' like a buzzer. She stops. We scoop her up, rush her out back and put her on the grass. When she goes potty, we say 'Good girl, Chica! You're such a good girl!' and Chica does a little happy dance." I was blown away that this was coming out of a 2nd grader. "That's very smart," I told him, impressed. "Who taught you that?" "You were in my sister's 5th grade class last week. She told you that Chica always goes potty in the house and my dad spanks her until she rolls over." I then remembered Chica and the pain in his sister's eyes as she told the class how sad it made her when their dad hit the chihuahua. For two years her father had been abusing her and for two years she continued to go to the bathroom in the house. "...because hitting an animal doesn't teach them anything except that you're a mean, painful person to spend time with." Desperate to ease her pain and anxious to help poor Chica, I instructed his sister the proper way of housebreaking. SHOW her where to go and praise her when she goes there. She didn't just listen, she went home and taught her family. "How is Chica doing?" I asked. "She hasn't gone to the bathroom inside since last Saturday. My dad said she must have finally learned her lesson, but my mom says it's because of what you taught my sister." Four days without being hit so hard she rolled over. Kids have the power to change the world, one chihuahua at a time!