National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day

pet disaster preparedness

“The best thing a family can do in the case of an emergency is be prepared, and that includes having a plan in place for your pets. We hope that families take into account some simple steps that will help them feel ready to respond should disaster strike.” – 
Kostas Kontopanos, President of Hill’s Pet Nutrition North America:

Here in Florida, hurricane season officially starts June 1 and ends November 30. However, we’re only in the second week of May and there is already a storm brewing off the East coast. Other parts of the country have been experiencing tornadoes and severe weather. May 9 is National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day and a reminder to be sure that we have our plans in place for our pets should severe weather affect us. Hill’s Pet Nutrition is taking the opportunity to share best practices for pet parents to be ready for any type of an emergency.

In 2013, Hill’s expanded its Food, Shelter & Love program- through which it provides Science Diet brand food to more than 800 shelters nationwide – to create the Disaster Relief Network. 

  • In the last two years, the Hill’s Disaster Relief Network delivered free food to more than 60 different shelters and veterinary clinics across the country in response to 25 major incidents – including floods in Colorado, fires in Idaho and Arizona, the fertilizer plant explosion in Texas, the mudslide in Washington state and tornadoes in the central and southern regions of the country. In 2015, the Hill’s Disaster Relief Network has already assisted with three incidents – most recently with the March tornado damage in Moore, Oklahoma.
  • Hill’s is sharing seven tips to ensure your pet’s safety during an emergency:

Ensure your pet can be identified by either a microchip or collar ID tag and that contact information is up-to-date.

Prepare a “Pet Emergency Go-Kit” of pet supplies that is readily accessible in an emergency. Your Pet Emergency Go-Kit should include: first aid supplies and guide book; three-days’ supply of pet food (in a waterproof container) and bottled water; a safety harness and leash; waste clean-up supplies; medications and medical records; a contact list of veterinarian and pet care organizations; information on your pet’s feeding routine and any behavioral issues; comfort toys; and a blanket.

Display a pet rescue decal on your front door or window to let first responders know there is a pet in the house. Include your veterinarian’s contact information.

Learn where your pet likes to hide in your house when frightened. Finding your pet quickly will help you evacuate faster.

Identify a location to take your pet if you need to leave your immediate area. Keep in mind that disaster shelters for people may not be open to pets. Scout hotels and motels with pet-friendly policies and ask relatives or friends if they could house you and your pet.

Carry a picture of your pet in the event of separation.

If you need to evacuate, consider taking a pet carrier or crate for transport and safe-keeping.

Note: Displacement of pets is a serious issue. According to a paper published by the University of Colorado – No Place Like Home: Pet-to-Family Reunification After Disaster – more than 200,000 pets were displaced after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, and 95 percent were never reunited with their families.

pet disaster preparedness

Pet Emergency Go-Kit Contents

  • Basic first aid supplies
  • A 3-day supply of bottled water and the pet’s preferred food, held in a waterproof container
  • Safety harness and leash
  • Waste clean-up supplies
  • Medications and a copy of the pet’s medical records
  • List of veterinarians and local pet care organizations
  • List of the pet’s feeding routine and any behavioral issues
  • Comfort items, such as a blanket or favorite toy, to help keep the pet calm and comfortable

Key Dates

  • March 1, 2015 – Tornado season began
  • April 1, 2015 – Fire season on the West Coast began
  • May 9, 2015 – National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day
  • June 1, 2015 – Start of hurricane season
  • June 1, 2015 – Start of fire season
  • September 2015 – National Preparedness Month

Helpful Links:

Hill’s website 

The Humane Society

American Red Cross

Disaster Preparedness for Horses

Florida Pet Preparedness:

Pinellas County

Florida Division of Emergency Management

SPCA Florida


When Mother’s Day Is Hard

When Mother's Day Is Hard

I don’t look forward to Mother’s Day.

I’ve been blessed with a loving husband and four beautiful children but it’s hard not to think about prenatal losses and toxic family relationships. If it were up to me, I’d be happy just to take off to the beach for the day and avoid church, restaurants and Facebook where it’s entirely too easy for me to start thinking that I’m the only person who deals with sadness and loss.

For those of us living with dysfunctional, toxic relationships with our mothers the advertisements reminding us to “remember” Mother’s Day leave us with heaviness. People who haven’t experienced this type of difficulty (well, trauma) don’t understand and often admonish us to honor them while turning the other cheek and walking the extra mile. Some of us have chosen to continue the relationship, while others have limited contact with heavily enforced boundaries and still others have gone no contact. Estrangement isn’t an overnight decision, it generally comes after years of trying to reconcile and make things right only to be on the receiving end of old hurts again and again.

Some have lost their mothers. For those who had a loving, healthy relationship with their moms the heaviness of loss can be overwhelming and cause feelings of intense grief. The unconditional love of a real mom can never be replaced.

Many women have have struggled with infertility and/or prenatal loss. However (and whenever) the loss occurred, Mother’s day can stir up sad memories. Those who experienced an early prenatal loss may have the peculiar grief and struggle of feeling that nobody else remembers and grieves with them. Women who struggle with infertility are wondering if their time will ever come.

Some have lost their children. As a special needs mom, this is a stark reality for me. I’m well aware that without modern medical advances two of my children would not be here. Facebook reminds me of how many children are struggling with chronic conditions or have gone missing without a trace.

Here are some ways that I’ve learned to cope with Mother’s Day.

*I’ve learned to accept what has happened. Nothing can change the past. but I can choose to be a different kind of parent and there has been healing in that journey for me. In parenting my children, somehow, I learned how to parent myself.

*There is always something to be grateful for. Think of a few of them and take some time to reflect on them. Enjoy who is with you today – whether it be your spouse, your children or your pets. If you are by yourself, treat yourself to a fun movie or make some time for creativity.

*Be good to yourself – If a particular circumstance causes you pain, it’s okay to stay away from it. It could be a family gathering or even just going to church. Sometimes houses of worship can place so much focus on honoring the day that it causes pain for those who struggle. Make a different plan. It’s really okay. Have an “at home” day if you’re on the go a lot, go to the beach, a park or anyplace that helps you to get out of your head and relax. Go out to eat or pick up some great take out to enjoy at home.

*Acknowledge the positive women that God has placed in your life. In His love and wisdom, I’ve been blessed with many encouraging older women since I started my walk with him years ago.

*Make use of blank cards – for those with toxic relationships with their mothers, it is excruciatingly painful looking through the happy display of Mother’s Day cards and wondering why things turned out the way that they did for you. For years I settled on Snoopy cards but this year I was happy to see a prominent display of blank cards which enabled me to send a simply stated greeting. It’s all I’ve chosen to do – no calls or other gifts. Just a simple acknowledgement.

*Stay off Facebook. In fact, consider a digital break. Like other holidays, sometimes seeing all the happy pictures and outings that everyone else seems to have (I know, my perception) but it can be overwhelming.

Some final thoughts

If you have a person in your life who has chosen limited or contact with their mother, I implore you to show them understanding and grace. It’s hard enough to experience and process the extreme hurt and pain that comes from growing up in such an environment, and to be judged for taking decisive action to protect yourself just compounds the hurt.

And if someone close to you has experienced the loss of a child – no matter if it was prenatal or at any other stage of life, it will mean the world to them that someone remembered and acknowledged it.

Here’s some additional reading:

Mourning on Mother’s Day

A Letter to My Mom

 7 Ways to Find Healing from Your Toxic Mom

My Life as…An Infertile Woman

As for me I took some time today for lunch out and a manicure. I’ll enjoy Sunday with my family and some excellent Asian takeout…

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