Remember to prepare your pets for emergencies |

Remember to prepare your pets for emergencies

Dawn Armstrong
Special to the Tribune

May 11 is Animal Disaster Preparedness Day, and Wildfire Awareness Week representing the Greater Lake Tahoe Basin kicks off May 25 at 8 a.m. in the MontBleu parking lot. There will be free hot air balloon rides, fire emergency equipment displays, including the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Disaster Relief unit, and more. Smokey Bear and others will provide the emergency tips and tricks Tahoe people need to take care of themselves and their pets.

It’s not a second too soon to get families and homes fire ready. Tahoe faces another critical season with extreme fire potential. Since pet guardians are responsible for pet preparedness, below is a plan for an immediate family project. In addition, complete pet emergency preparation kits are available free from the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and SPCA at 530-542-2857.

Having the entire family — including pets — ready to “Go Now!” means setting up supplies like food, water, and comfort items pre-packed. It means being prepared to keep pets safe in an open field or in temporary housing. Plan for up to seven unexpected days away from home with supplies unavailable.

1. Obtain individual crates or carriers large enough for safe confinement. Pet should be able to stand, turn around, and lie down. Smaller dog crates can hold a cat and a small aluminum litter pan. Let pets become familiar with their crate. It can be an extra bed or regular safe haven at home.

2. Pre-pack and store the crate and a separate container with: favorite type of toy and bedding; extra collar or harness with leashes for both dogs and cats; bowls; food (dry or self opening cans) and bottled water; cleaning supplies; cat litter and scoop; plastic dog waste bags; a pet first-aid kit.

3. Pack a watertight bag with an instant ID tag for temporary phone number in case of evacuation; current close-up photo of each pet with a family member to prove ownership when claiming a rescued pet; copy of current vaccination records (boarding facilities and temporary pet shelters require proof of rabies, distemper, parvo and bordatella); medications and medical records; phone list including local and out-of-area veterinarians and boarding kennels, pet friendly housing alternatives, neighbors, local county animal services and the humane society.

4. Four times a year, rotate medications and food in airtight, waterproof containers. Freshen bottled water just for pets. A rule of thumb is one gallon per day for a 40-pound dog and one quart per day for each cat.

5. Other emergency planning: For the special needs of birds, fish and exotics, get a generator and fuel for temperature control, safe handling equipment, and other life-saving items. For all pets, keep tags current and consider microchipping for permanent ID; establish and practice a family plan including how the pets will be gathered and who will take the pre-packed pet supplies; establish a neighbor plan and agree to look out for each other’s pets if someone is absent when disaster strikes. Plan where to hide a house key for rescue help in case you are not with your pets when disaster happens.

Temporary shelters will be set up to care for evacuated pets and special hotline phone numbers will be publicized. However, expect that phone lines will be busy or be out of order and cell phone towers will be overloaded. Current ID tags and pet photos are critical to getting your pet safely back to you. Remember, your pet depends solely on you for his or her safety.

For your free Pet Emergency Preparedness Kit and Neighborhood Pet Watch organization information, call 530-542-2857.

Provided by the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and SPCA to help “Keep Tahoe Kind.” Dawn Armstrong is the executive director. The Lake Tahoe Humane Society and SPCA has moved to 870 Emerald Bay Road, Suite 104. The phone number remains the same: 530-542-2857. Mailing address remains the same: PO Box PET, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96158.

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