September is National Preparedness Month and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) urges pet owners to develop an emergency plan in advance to keep their families and pets safe. A newly released poll conducted by Lake Research Partners and commissioned by the ASPCA reveals that one-third of cat and dog owners don’t have a disaster preparedness plan in place.
Tim Rickey, senior director of ASPCA Field Investigations and Response says, “It doesn’t matter where you live, anyone can be hit with a natural or man-made disaster. When you’re in the moment, it can be very stressful for you and your pets. We learned from Hurricane Katrina that people must be allowed to evacuate with their pets, and New York City took heed and made sure that all the human shelters were pet-friendly. Having a plan in place ahead of time can save you precious time and energy, so you can focus on quickly getting you and your pets to safety.” For pet owners who do have an emergency plan in place, the ASPCA’s national study found that an overwhelming majority (85 percent of dog owners; 81 percent of cat owners) intend to bring their pets with them in the event of an evacuation. Rickey agrees, “If officials order an evacuation, you should take your pets with you. If it’s not safe for you, then it’s not safe for your pets.”
The secret for your pet’s survival during one of these natural disasters is to be as prepared as possible before disaster strikes. This means having a plan and assembling an emergency kit for your pet now, before you need it. By being organized and ready for a disaster, you will greatly increase you and your pet’s chance of survival.
Find a secure location ahead of time.
Evacuation shelters rarely accept pets, so you need to plan ahead to make sure your family and pets will have a safe place to take refuge before a disaster strikes. In some hotels, if there is a no-pet policy, it may be waived in the event of an emergency. For a listing, go to http://www.petswelcome.com/. You should also compile a list of boarding facilities (including veterinary offices and animal shelters) that might be able to shelter animals in the event of an emergency.
Bring your pet with you when you evacuate.
The most important decision you make during a disaster is to take your pet with you. Animals left to fend for themselves can easily be injured, lost or killed due to exposure, starvation, predators, contaminated food or water, or accidents.
In addition to natural disasters, you should be prepared for everyday emergencies.
Who will check on your cat or dog, feed them and give any medications necessary if you find yourself unexpectedly away due to an accident or other family emergency? Find a dependable neighbor and make sure they have access to your house. You’ll want to introduce your neighbor to your pet beforehand to ensure familiarity. Have an emergency kit packed and ready to go with your pet in an easily accessible location at all times. If evacuation is necessary while you’re away, be certain your neighbor is willing to rescue your pet and knows where you keep your pet’s emergency kit. Arrange to meet at a location set ahead of time.
Checklist for Pet Emergency Supplies
• Bottled water, food and any medications needed for 5-7 days
• Current identification (name, cell phone, address) fastened to your pet’s collar
• Pet carrier, blanket, leash and harness
• Disposable litter box and litter if you have cats or rabbits
• Animal first aid kit – available for all different species at http://www.petfirstaid.org/
• Photos of your pet in the event they get separated from you
• A copy of your pet’s veterinary records, along with your veterinarian’s phone number
• Phone number and directions to a 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital (the 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital in Santa Barbara is C.A.R.E. Hospital at 301 E. Haley Street, 805-899-2273).
• A list of places to take refuge with your pet. For a listing of pet friendly hotels, go to www.petswelcome.com
• You should also have an emergency rescue sticker placed on the front door of your home in the event that you’re separated from your pet. You can find them online for under $2 on amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Pet-Safety-Alert-Window-Decal/dp/B00079YTTC
Hurricane Irene once again reminds us that you can never be too prepared for a disaster. The ASPCA was founded in 1866 and was the first humane organization established in the Americas. In this year alone, the ASPCA has assisted more than 18,500 animals in communities throughout the Midwest and South that were severely affected by tornadoes, flooding and storms, and estimates that more than 600,000 cats and dogs have been affected by natural disasters nationwide. For information on disaster preparedness and safety tips from the ASPCA, visit http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/disaster-preparedness/.
Record Breaking Adoptions at ASAP’s Cat Event
ASAP, the nonprofit organization that takes care of all of the cats at the Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter, made history in our community on August 20-21, setting a record for cat and kitten adoptions in a single weekend. By the time ASAP closed its doors on Sunday afternoon, 74 cats and kittens had been adopted and would spend the night, not in a cage, but in a home with a loving family of their own.
With tongue-in-cheek humor, ASAP offered the Santa Barbara community the deal of the century—certified, pre-owned cats, $0 down, 0% financing, and no payments. All makes, all models, absolutely free to qualified adopters. The goal of the publicity campaign was to draw attention to the overcrowding in our shelters and the tremendous need for responsible adopters to step forward and provide caring homes for these cats and kittens.
In the week leading up to the free adoption weekend, visitors to ASAP more than doubled, as did adoptions. People came to ASAP to complete their pre-adoption screening early and to meet the cats. And many of them bonded so strongly with a particular cat that they decided to adopt on the spot and pay the regular $65 adoption fee.
ASAP’s decision to hold this free adoption weekend was based on successful events by other highly reputable animal welfare organizations, as well as research conducted by the ASPCA. The concerns around whether people would not value or properly care for an animal they obtained for free are unfounded, and the quality of adopters during ASAP’s weekend free event was as excellent as always. All adopters went through ASAP’s standard adoption screening and counseling process. The majority of the adopters told ASAP volunteers they were not motivated by the “free” aspect of the event—instead they said that they had already been thinking about getting a cat or kitten and the publicity around the event inspired them to come participate. Some adopters had previously adopted a cat from ASAP and felt a strong commitment to help yet another homeless feline in need of love. Other adopters were motivated by the newspaper articles and radio interviews when they learned about the overcrowding in the shelters.
As a result of this weekend event, 74 cats and kittens are homeless no more. Many of ASAP’s longest feline residents, some having waited over a year for their special adopter to appear, finally found their forever family. In anticipation of the event, ASAP took a transfer of 10 cats from the Santa Maria shelter and all now have a home of their own because of the extraordinary weekend at ASAP. It is anticipated that the adoptions attributed to this event will continue to climb this coming week as many more potential adopters will be visiting ASAP in the hopes of finding their perfect feline companion.
ASAP is proud to have partnered with Santa Barbara County Animal Services for this landmark event.
ASAP is located at 5473 Overpass Road in Goleta. For more information, call 805-683-3368 or visit www.asapcats.org
Adoptable Pet of the Week