Written By Jenny Pavlovic
The video showed houses submerged in brown water, with neighborhoods vacant and almost unrecognizable. A dog struggled to stay afloat in his outdoor run as a man in an LSART shirt reached in to rescue him. With the 11th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina just days away on August 29th, these images looked all too familiar. But this flood occurred in August of 2016, many miles inland from the Gulf coast.
Entire neighborhoods in the Baton Rouge and Denham Springs, Louisiana area were underwater. This is where many of the rescued animals were taken after Hurricane Katrina, to keep them safe and dry on high ground until they could be reunited with their families. Ironically, in 2016, relentless rains were now forcing people and their pets out of their homes, people who had given countless hours to help care for the animals rescued after Hurricane Katrina, people who never thought this would happen to them.
One woman, Nancy from Denham Springs, volunteered at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales, LA after Hurricane Katrina. I met her there in September of 2005 while helping take care of rescued animals. She watched out for 8 State Hurricane Kate, and helped with several cattle dog rescue efforts in the years since. Nancy and her family lost everything to the August 2016 flooding. Fortunately, their entire family, including people and animals, got out safely. But they lost their home and did not have flood insurance since they lived in an area that had never flooded before.
The 2016 flooding in such an unlikely area reminds me how important it is to share what I learned from Hurricane Katrina, because nobody thinks such a tragedy will happen to them. The Not Without My Dog Resource & Record Book is my determined effort to help keep people and their pets safe (learn more at http://www.8statekate.net/wordpress/?page_id=1542). This book shares vital information that I learned from caring for rescued animals in Louisiana after Katrina, and working to reunite lost animals with their families.
Do you have a disaster plan for your family, including your pets? Do you know what you would take and where you would go if you had to evacuate from your home on short notice? Do you have enough vehicles and drivers to transport all the family members, including people and pets, in your care? Do you know what precautions to take to prevent your pets from getting lost, and to help you find them if they go missing? Making a simple plan can prepare you well and provide peace of mind. The Not Without My Dog book walks you through the process… because a fire or a flood or a tornado could happen to you.
The following information will help you prepare:
- Microchip your pet. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we learned how easily pets can lose their collars and ID tags. A microchip implanted under the pet’s skin is the best permanent identification, and is recommended even if your pet never leaves the house. A flood, tornado, hurricane, or even a surprise bolt out the door could separate you. A microchip is a small electronic chip with a unique ID number, in a capsule the size of a grain of rice. When a pet is found, the ID number is read by a hand-held scanner moved over the pet’s back, and the microchip company is notified. The company looks up the ID number in their database to find the owner. A microchip will only reunite you with your pet if you’ve registered your current contact information with the manufacturer of the chip. Microchip technology has improved over the past ten years. A universal scanner is now available that can read the microchip number from any manufacturer.
- Keep good pet records, including a current photo of you with your pet (to verify ownership) and photos of your pet’s unique identifying markings and characteristics. Store your pet’s vet, food, and medication records in one place (like The Not Without My Dog Resource & Record Book). Include information on your pet’s daily routine, words your pet knows, and other useful tips for anyone taking care of your pet in an emergency situation. Make sure a designated person knows where your pet’s information is stored, in case something happens to you. Print the photos of you and your pet; don’t rely on photos stored on your phone, which won’t be accessible if power is lost.
- Make a disaster plan for your family and pets. Learn about the most likely natural disasters in your area. If you must stay home in a disaster situation, be prepared to survive without assistance. Assemble a kit to meet your family’s basic needs for at least three days. Store it in easily accessible waterproof containers. If you must evacuate, do not leave your pets behind. Keep carriers, leashes, and harnesses for your pets. Know the local evacuation routes, how you’ll transport your pets, and where you’ll take them. Plan alternate destinations because emergency shelters for people often don’t allow pets, and pet-friendly hotels fill quickly.
- Socialize and train your pets. Positively trained pets are less likely to get lost. Help your pets learn to be confident in different situations. Make sure they know how to walk on a leash/harness and are comfortable riding in their carriers in the car. Teach them to wait before exiting the car by pausing, then giving them a reward. I feed my cat in her carrier twice each day. Since she’s used to going in the carrier regularly, I could easily load her into it on short notice if needed. I’m also teaching her to be comfortable wearing a harness.
Learn more and help flood victims in Louisiana by reading the Not Without My Dog Resource & Record book. Through September 30th, these books are on sale for $15 each. $5 per book sold will be donated to help human and animal victims of the August flooding in Louisiana (Click here to order: http://www.8statekate.net/wordpress/?page_id=1715). Thus, my dream of helping people and their pets stay safe will be fulfilled by educating those who purchase the book and helping those who have been affected by the floods. Thank you for your support!