With all the current global weather problems I’ve seen in the news recently, I can’t help but notice that it is only once in a while do they report any news about animals. These reports are usually the work of some person in a resource group or emergency services and a little PR release. Without these volunteers and groups we would probably hear nothing. Animals aren’t news.

Even before I worked for The Gift for Life, Inc., during the Katrina aftermath, I saw reports about people bringing food and water to stranded animals. Then after one or two reports, there was nothing. So I’m going to tell you that if you decide to help animals do it for them and expect nobody ever hearing about it.

So knowing that you can’t expect any coverage you can get in contact with local groups BEFORE the big one (insert personal type of disaster) and PLAN IN ADVANCE. To be sure that I got the REAL inside track on pet rescue I asked Amy Robinson from Col. Potter to contribute to this article. Col. Potter has the “street” savvy to make sure that I haven’t missed anything that you need to know.

Tip #1
Start collecting non-food provisions early and often. Provisions for your pet(s) should include blankets and/or towels, bandages, needle and thread, scissor, a harness/collar and leash (in case you don’t have time to grab theirs, have these items in an “emergency bag/tub”), copies of their vet records. If you have a crate for your pet, have TWO. Keep one in a “quick grab” location with all other provisions. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Always have a notebook/pad and several pens/pencils – you will need to keep track of everything from your own pets to others you may encounter.

Tip #2
Lots and lots of Water. Normal water consumption in a dog should not exceed 50 milliliters (a little less than 2 ounces) per pound of the dog's weight in a 24-hour period. Cats require even less and should have approximately 2 to 4 ounces of water per day. Depending on the type of disaster you may want to stock up on water treatment supplies so that if you run out of potable water you’ll be ready to make your own.

Tip #3
Dry Dog and Cat Food. What’s the best kind? This food should be the food you normally feed your pets. You don’t want to give them strange food and then on top of all the other stress, deal with tummy upsets and the like. Bags of kibble should be kept in tubs with lids to help keep it fresh and dry

Tip #4
Medical Help. A pet first aid kit should contain a fresh bottle of peroxide, alcohol swabs, Q-tips, tubes of triple anti-biotic cream and the name and number of the emergency clinic. Your area may be in harm’s way, but the emergency clinic may be in another town and you may or may not have access to it. Emergency clinics are ALWAYS available over the phone. A side note on peroxide. Peroxide – a bottle is ONLY GOOD FOR ONE YEAR. After that it is like using plain water… so this must be replaced regularly.

Tip #5
Feral Animals. Depending on where you are in the US you also may need to consider that some animals that you encounter may be feral. There is already a feral animal problem in many parts of the US that don’t even include the problem we have in the south with wild hogs.

If you are trying to assist with animals that are loose during an emergency, your best supplies would be crates (or carriers) from cat size to small dog size. Extra harnesses and leashes are a very good idea as well. Harnesses versus collars because a harness keeps you in better control of the animals and they can’t slip out of a properly set harness.

Tip #6
Ask for Help. In a disaster this feeding and caring for animals is going to be more than a one day event. Keep handy the names and numbers of your Dog Warden (Dept of Agriculture), your area ASPCA/Shelter, your veterinarian and any vets within a close proximity; any boarding kennels as well. You may be in a position to help save these animals, but once you do – where are you going to put them? Have all your ducks lined up so with a cell phone, you can make all these arrangements.

Our final thoughts about pet rescue, natural disasters and you. You may be the only one person in your area to help these animals but always take care of yourself and your family first and last. You can only do what can be done and the rest is up to the universe.

Know the signs of a dog under stress. NEVER approach a dog that is already so upset that he is going to bite you. A spray/squirt bottle set to “stream” with a solution of lemon juice, water and vinegar (much better than pepper spray) to warn off a dog that shows signs of attack. (this recipe is in The Col. Potter Volume II cookbooklink: http://mall.cairnrescue.com/inv_cookbookv3.htm).

You can’t help them if you are injured. If it is a dog you know (neighbor, friend or relative) – always put yourself at their level (crouch down), do not make direct eye contact and call the dog to you in a friendly happy manner. With all that has gone on the dog may feel as if he’s in trouble. If he comes voluntarily, you can usually figure him out.

If you are truly in a position to help feral or stranded strange pets, there are more things you will need to be armed with than mentioned above. A large “fishing net”, with a long pole handle will help for the smaller animals. We have pulled many a cat into care using a large boat bass net. Doggy treats in your pocket won’t hurt for the canine friends in need, either.

Remember this - “Volunteers are unpaid NOT because they are worthless, but because they are priceless”

Author's Bio: 

Michael Harris, PhD is Clinical Hypnotherapist, Fitness, Life and Business Coach
Read more about relationship coaching or email (drm@drmichaelharris.com) for more information. Click here to receive a FREE Audio book (http://forms.aweber.com/form/77/1458709877.htm), “The Science of Getting Rich” by William Waddles

Amy Robinson, who lives in Northeastern Pennsylvania, is a full time volunteer and a Board of Directors member for the largest North American Cairn Terrier pure breed rescue in the world, Col. Potter Cairn Rescue Network (www.cairnrescue.com) since 2000. She has been involved in dog rescue since 1986, and currently has 5 rescued dogs in her home that she and husband Brian Antosh, have adopted. For more information on Col. Potter, visit their web site, and the Blog, which is updated daily: http://cairnrescue.blogspot.com/