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By Felix Adamo/ The Californian
By Sherry Davis
This has been one of the worst years on record for fires and floods, and the devastating cost in the wake of these natural and man-made disasters includes a number of family pets.
I learned to appreciate the fear and panic that accompanies such catastrophic events after living through the magnitude 6.6 San Fernando earthquake. No stranger to earthquakes (I rolled over and went back to sleep during the Sylmar quake), at the time I thought all I would have to do is hang on to the dogs until it stopped,
But this quake was different, and every aftershock sent my body into paralyzing fits of trembling. Suffering weeks of sleep deprivation, I watched the cracks on my walls widen and lamps walk themselves off tables as I packed in preparation for the dogs and I to leave in a moment's notice.
As a result of that experience, I vowed to be better prepared, and because the nature of disasters is that you will have little if any time to prepare, the steps you take to ready your dog for a quick evacuation can go a long way to making the process safer and less stressful for both of you.
And the MOST important thing you can do to prepare your dog for an emergency evacuation is to crate train it. I don't care if you find the use of crates cruel or don't like them because YOU'RE claustrophobic, you need to get over it because a crate can prevent a dog from becoming lost or injured and provide a safe and familiar place for him to be confined in the event that you must leave your home.
If you have to relocate, hotels are more likely to accept well-behaved crate trained dogs that won't bark or destroy their property and friends will tolerate the inconvenience more easily if their house guest doesn't dig up their yard or pee on their rug.
If you potty trained your dog as a puppy using a crate, it's simply a matter of reacquainting the dog with its use. If you've never crate trained your dog, some basic obedience and patience will make the process easier.
Most importantly, let go of all your negative feelings about crating; burrowing in a cave comes instinctively to a dog, and as long as their use is not abused by excessive confinement, dogs actually like the privacy and security a crate provides.
Ask any owner who has crate trained their dog and they will tell you that the crate is their dog's favorite place to go when it wants to take a break from the maddening crowd.
You should also include the following essentials in your dog's disaster preparedness kit:
* one to two weeks' supply of water, food and medications (include dosage and feeding instructions). Rotate food, water and medications regularly.
* A can opener (or store pop-top food cans) and a spoon.
* Food and water bowls.
* Toys, treats and a crate pad or blanket the dog can use to snuggle.
* An extra leash and collar.
* A dog first-aid kit and first-aid book.
* Dish soap, disinfectant and paper towels.
* Photos of your dog in case he becomes lost.
* Records of your dog's vaccinations, health conditions, ownership and the names and numbers of friends who will take your dogs if you are injured or hospitalized.
* Make sure your dog is microchipped and registered.
* Your dog's I.D. tags should have your cell phone number on them. If you evacuate there will be no one at home to answer your land line.
And once you've prepared for your dog's emergency evacuation, don't forget to prepare a grab-bag for yourself.
Sherry Davis is a dog trainer/owner of CSI 4 K9s. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. These are her opinions, not necessarily The Californian's.