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A word no one wants to hear, let alone act upon. The recent and ongoing disasters in California, specifically the Camp Fire and the Woolsey Fire, have been on my mind. I’m sure I’m not alone. Haunting images feed my imagination and increase my concern. I’m an animal lover with a myriad of companion animals. We all are at Cumberland Animal Clinic. The thought of having to evacuate suddenly, within minutes, has caused a lot of introspection as to whether I would be ready to run if the need arose. Each time I think about it the questions roll in like a tsunami. Would my goats fit in the car? Should I try and crate them first? My two cats are not friends so that means separate transport. Should I plan on the backpack or a large, temporary house carrier? What about my beloved chickens and my duck? How do I round them up without inducing chaos? How do I transport all of them? What about food, water, meds, papers, photos…the lists seem endless, the time limited. The ultimate question is this: how quickly could I pack up the critters and run? What would I take and how quickly can I grab and go? It’s a question that I need an answer to. Perhaps you do too?
Flashback to the early 90’s when I was a shelter manager. We painstakingly planned and rehearsed mock evacuations. After all, you never know when disaster can strike. Collapsing roof from snow, flooding, fire…one can never predict an emergency. We had a plan and protocols in place. Leashes were always at the ready on every kennel door for dogs, pillowcases piled neatly on top of the cat cages, one for each cage and a few extra just in case we had double occupancy, transport boxes for rabbits and guinea pigs, pillowcases for birds etc., all neatly stacked in their rooms and ready to pack, each setup with food dishes, shavings and/or towels. The pretend alarm would sound, and our mock evacuation rehearsal would begin, first verbally we would sound out the plan. Staff followed their assignments - the emergency medical bags are grabbed; the staff shout out their location and evacuation movements. Staff assigned to shelter transport vans grabbed food to load and moved vans to exit doors, ready to load the population being evacuated. It really was well thought out and well executed and thankfully we never had to implement that plan for a real emergency. It surely wasn’t perfect, and any number of things could have changed our ability to implement it. After all, we all knew our personal safety and staff lives came first. Thankfully, we never had a real fire on our heels. The rehearsals provided some peace of mind. Knowing we had a plan helped ease the worry. We had the population evacuation plan in place and the routes of exit from the building with contingency plans. We had medications, population census paperwork, emergency food, the population, our vehicles, our staff and our assembly location in the field next door. We hoped we’d never have to implement it, but we had a plan.
Flash forward to today and where is my household plan? I’ve gotten lazy or maybe its just complacent. I just haven’t thought about it lately but, truth be told, I’d be in a panic if I had to evacuate suddenly. To reduce my own personal stress about the Paradise fire, I’ve decided to buckle down and formulate a plan while I’m not facing an imminent emergency. Even with some warning, one never thinks clearly during an immediate threat or crisis.
Do yourself and your pets a favor, think about and document your own emergency evacuation plan. Organize and prepare a grab and go kit for yourself and for each of your pets. Here are a few ideas to help you get started.
It's that time of year again...sweets, treats and opportunity can be a dangerous combination for your pet.
When fall arrives so to come the Holidays and all that come with them, including potential hazards for your furry friends. Although candy, sweets and toxic foods are available all year round, it seems that Halloween is the Holiday that kicks off the toxicity visits in all veterinary hospitals, ours included. In just these few days since Halloween we've seen several pets suffering from toxic levels of Xylitol, a particularly dangerous sugar substitute.
Naturally, dogs are curious about anything edible that crosses their paths, including non-edibles as well (missing a sock perchance? Don't expect your furry pal to differentiate between healthy and toxic; you need to be the vigilant guard at the gate of what they can ingest. The resulting danger to your favorite Fluffy or Fido can be deadly and the costs incurred for treatment can be high. Nor are they guaranteed to be successful. Timing, ingredients and volume are everything when it comes to toxicity.
Be safe, be informed and be vigilant. Don't leave ANY candy unattended or within reach of your pet. Avoid toothpastes, gum, nut butters or any foods with Xylitol or keep them completely out of reach of your pet. Be especially mindful of foods containing cocoa and dark chocolate as well. All of these can induce liver failure in short order. If you find wrappers or suspect your pet has ingested something he/she shouldn't have, contact us! It's always better to be proactive in suspected toxicity situations.
In the flurry of activity around the Holidays it's easy to forget and leave treats and candy within paws reach. Remember that your pet may be curious and just waiting for the opportunity to investigate the candy dish or taste that rum cake on the table. Much as we love our clients and patients, we'd rather not see you for the Holidays unless it's for a wellness visit :-). Be safe, we want to ring in the new year with you!