Katrina: A Lesson in Emergency Preparedness for You and Your Dog
Zlatin © 2005
images of Hurricane Katrinas four-legged victims are too much for
most of us to bear. Fortunately the majority of people around the country
have their loving companions next to them while they are watching the
devastating news of dogs left to fend for themselves and people making
the choice of their pet or their own rescue. A disaster such as Hurricane
Katrina is not a common occurrence, but it does bring up important questions
about what you would do with your dog if an emergency did arise in your
household and you were unable to return to your home. Some important facts
to keep in mind:
- Is your
dog microchipped? The majority of shelters have a scanning device that
can read the microchip that is placed under your dogs skin. The
microchip carries important identifying information for your dog and
can be provided at many shelters and vets offices for a nominal
fee in a matter of seconds.
- Make sure
your dog has a collar with updated identification tags. This is a simple
way for people to contact you if your dog has been found.
- Find out
where lost dogs are taken in your neighborhood. Some cities have a central
location where dogs are placed for the first 24-48 hours before being
relocated to area shelters. Save yourself time by doing a little research
- Have a sign
in your window so emergency personnel know that there is a pet inside
your home that needs to be rescued.
- Have a designated
person(s) to check in on your pet in case of an emergency. Give them
a list of reputable boarding facilities just in case they are not able
to take your dog into their own home.
- Where are
your local emergency vet clinics? You do not want to be scrambling for
this information when your dog needs immediate care.
- Is your
dog up to date on vaccinations? If your dog is placed in a shelter,
boarding facility, or lost on the street you want to make sure that
he is protected against diseases that he would not otherwise be exposed
to in your home.
- Where can
you go with your dog if you must leave your home unexpectedly?
- Keep a list
of dog-friendly hotels so you know where you can go if you are unable
to stay in your home.
- Bring familiar
objects for your dog. If possible, grab a favorite toy or dog bed with
familiar scents that can reduce anxiety in a stressful situation.
- Never underestimate
the power of the internet! Email yourself or a friend a picture of your
dog so you have a picture available to post in case of separation.
- You can
send the picture to local shelters and websites such as (see ** below)
Craigslist.com or Petfinder.com.
A little advanced
planning on your part could be the difference between a happy reunion
or heartache for you and your dog. While we all pray that we will never
need to use this information, having it on hand as a quick reference can
bring some peace of mind in an emergency situation.
is a freelance copywriter and entrepreneur. She owns and runs www.barkslope.com,
an online dog boutique. Kimberly can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
note: In an U.K emergency situation, dog owners may contact www.doglost.co.uk