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California Earthquakes & Pet Preparedness Tips

Recent escalation of earthquakes in California are a reminder to make sure you are prepared for a disaster. Even the best mitigation plans do not prepare you for everything that occurs in a disaster or for the repercussions after the experience." Animal disaster expert Diana L. Guerrero comments after recent quakes.

California Earthquakes & Pet Preparedness Tips

California earthquakes are a common occurrence this week. Animal disaster preparedness expert Diana L. Guerrero says, "These large quake flurries are a reminder for people to take steps to make sure they are ready in the event a large quake occurs in a metropolitan area."

When a 6.7 earthquake devastated her California town in the 1990's, pet expert and animal behaviorist, Diana L. Guerrero was prepared. Even so, she spent all day climbing through rubble locating pets for owners who were out of town. Although the homes were often in shambles, all of the animals were fine-although some exhibited post-traumatic stress syndrome in the following weeks.

Guerrero is an expert in the unusual animal disaster preparedness field and states, "Many communities are familiar with the basic steps and supplies required for disaster preparedness, but most people fail to prepare and do not include animals in their disaster plans. Even if you prepare--you can never really brace yourself for the wreckage a disaster creates in your life or the life of those that you love."

Guerrero is the author of the booklet, "Animal Disaster Preparedness for Pet Owners & Pet Professionals" and is contributing editor to "Resources for Crisis Management in Zoos and Other Animal Care Facilities." In addition to her written works, she holds numerous certifications in the animal disaster field from groups such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). She has also worked with many of the nation's animal disaster rescue groups. Her next project on disaster management for zoos and other animals facilities is scheduled for release in spring of 2006.

"In any disaster, people should make sure they have supplies. In addition, make plans to evacuate with their animals and contingency plans need to be in place for times when pets are home alone. If a situation is unsafe for humans it is unsafe for animals." Guerrero continued. "Animals are not usually allowed in human emergency shelters due to health precautions and limited space. Networking with neighbors and contacting local animal shelters, and other animal service agencies, in advance of a disaster is a critical preparedness step. Prepared people can eliminate additional stress simply by checking on what networks are established locally, with other counties, and with the national animal rescue groups-and by learning how they can obtain assistance from the network."

Her animal disaster booklet, now in the seventh edition, offers tips to prepare prior to a disaster, how to form or get involved in a animal disaster preparedness network, and what items to include in kits for dogs, cats, horses, and birds. Guerrero also includes tip sheets for behavior, identification, health, diet, and sanitation for multiple species during a disaster.

The booklet ends with a section on post disaster animal behavior and list valuable resources for the pet owner including animal disaster agencies, where to get training, and suppliers of kits and equipment.

Guerrero's earthquake hints are:
1. Take your animals with you! Pets that are released or left behind often become victims of starvation, predators, contaminated food or water, accidents, or exposure to the elements.

2. Make sure animals have ID tags on them and get them microchipped.

3. Three weeks of supplies is not excessive for humans or pets. Rotate gradually every six months.

4. Proof of current vaccinations will be required for housing animals in many facilities. Make sure you have copies stored in a waterproof container with other supplies so you don't forget to take them.

5. Maintain current photos of your property and animals. Take photos of any damage BEFORE you clean up for insurance claims.

6. Make sure you have a plan that is effective during the times when you are separated from your pets.

7. Use wire crates to transport and house smaller animals since they provide better ventilation and fold up easily for storage and transport.

8. Provide shade along with water for animals. If an animal does not eat initially, don't worry too much--stressed animals often avoid food.

9. Return home only after authorities advise that it is safe to return.

10. Use caution upon your return. Debris can inflict injury to you and your animals.

11. Keep your animal restrained to prevent them from running off during an aftershock or becoming lost since their familiar landmarks and smells will be altered.

12. Seek professional help for any family member (or any animal) who exhibits abnormal behavior patterns post disaster.

Readers can click here to order the PDF version of Animal Disaster Preparedness for Pet Owners & Pet Professionals online.


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