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Pet emergency management: How to prepare your dog

FIDO Friendly recently did a spread in our April issue about preparing for disaster , how to prepare Fido, and what to do before, during and after devastation.

The recent path of destruction in the southern states is a stark reminder that natural disasters don’t schedule their path and timing with us. The first step towards preparing for any type of situation is recognizing that it can happen to anyone, including you. If your family unit involves animals, avoiding, preparing and responding to emergencies will have to include the pets which are as vulnerable as the human family members, if not more, and entirely depend on us for their well-being and survival. By taking an all-hazards approach to pet emergency management, pet parents and pet-related businesses can mitigate, prepare and respond to most hazards whether natural and/or man-made.

Technically defined, “emergency management” means dealing with and avoiding risk. Pet emergency management was developed by renowned pet safety expert Ines De Pablo in the spring of 2007. With her background in the field of emergency management, de Pablo determined it was time to apply her expertise to the pet world/industry after the destructive force of Hurricane Katrina exposed many flaws in our nation’s emergency preparedness programs.

Pet emergency management is the application of emergency management practices in regards to pet safety. It involves: mitigation or protection by prevention, be sure to know and avoid unnecessary riskspreparedness, make sure that tools, skills and plans are in place to help protect and respond to pet emergencies; for pet businesses, like grooming or boarding facilities, evacuation plans should be made and drills could be used to test the plans     response, the application of preparedness measures, for example provide appropriate pet first aid to injured pet, implement evacuation or shelter-in-place plans recovery, the act of regaining or saving something lost and measures depend on the extent and nature of the emergency, injuries/loss of life; the recovery phase could include filing pet insurance claims, relocation, repairing of commodities damaged or destroyed during the event

Our city and state authorities’ learned that previous disaster plans did not take into account how to rescue the portion of the population who are pet owners. Thousands of pets died, many as a result of poor planning, flawed local, state and federal policies. As a result, an amendment to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5196b) was issued. Section 613 of the Act was amended in October of 2006. This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act of 2006’’.

Since then, federal, state and local government agencies/entities as well as public service and private organizations provide preparedness guidelines to the public, including pets. It is strongly recommended pet parents check with their state and/county emergency management office to identify man-made and natural hazards likely to occur in their area. Pets can also be victims of additional environmental hazards which are not listed or provided for by government entities. It is strongly recommended that pet parents and pet care professionals learn pet life-saving skills, pet first aid, and get pet preparedness checklists and kits ready and rehearse every plan they prepare. “A plan that hasn’t been rehearsed is a bad plan,” according to de Pablo. Pet care businesses are also encouraged to consider taking a Pet Business Continuity of Operations Planning Course to keep their business wagging during and following an emergency.

Pet CPR, first aid and care classes are provided by Wag’N Enterprises in the Washington, D.C. area by de Pablo, a Pet Tech® Certified Master Pet First Aid Instructor or visit Pet Tech® to find a trained instructor in your area.  A detailed list of Pet Emergency Management Resources is available on the Wag’N Website.

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