Gail Fisher's Dog Tracks: Make a commitment to prepare an emergency kit for your dog
Consider what you would do in an emergency if you have to leave your house with very little notice. What if you don't have time to gather anything except what you've prepared in advance, along with your loved ones and your pets, and get out?
With that thought in mind, I recommend planning ahead - even this weekend - to gather items for your pets' evacuation kit. Depending on the size of your pets, you can place supplies in a large plastic tub or in a backpack. Tape a copy of your list to the outside, with a record of "use by" dates for consumables such as food and water that will need to be replaced periodically.
Evacuation shelters will require proof of rabies inoculation, required by law for dogs, cats and ferrets. So the list starts with this and other important paperwork:
. Paperwork secured in several zipper plastic bags. In addition to proof of rabies inoculation, include current photographs with at least one of you and your pet. Write a description of your pets in case you get separated, with specific distinguishing physical characteristics (for example, not "a red collar," which can easily be removed).
. Information about any permanent ID, such as a tattoo or microchip, and contact information for the database center. Also helpful are copies of veterinary records, vaccination certificates, medical information, photocopies of prescriptions, proof of ownership records, information about behavioral quirks, the name and phone number of your vet and an emergency contact other than yourself.
-- Your pet's food in airtight containers, enough for two weeks. Include bowls and a spoon and can opener, if necessary. Also treats. Put it on your calendar to rotate this food every 3 months.
-- Garbage bags and baggies for waste (two weeks' supply).
-- Waterless hand cleaner.
-- Potable water - at least one week's supply, also rotated every few months.
-- If you have dogs that don't get along, have muzzles on hand so if you need to quickly throw the dogs together in the car, they won't hurt each other. I recommend acclimating your dog to a muzzle in a positive way, which I'll write about in a future column.
-- First aid kit. Include medications and a pet first aid book. Do an Internet search for suggestions for your kit - or purchase a ready-made pet first aid kit.
-- Any medications your dog is on - a one month's supply, rotated monthly.
-- Carriers with your name, phone number, your pet's name and emergency contact information (other than you) in indelible ink. Include the name of your town, but not your street address. If you have a folding, portable crate for your large dog that you can throw into the trunk of the car, have that on your list and keep it nearby. Your might have to stay in this enclosure for hours on end, so it should be large enough for your dog to stand up and turn around.
-- Leashes, harnesses, collars for dogs too large to carry.
-- Pet beds, blankets and toys for warmth and comfort and to alleviate stress.
-- Contact information for facilities to stay with your pet or to leave your pet. This includes pet-friendly hotels, boarding facilities and the like.
-- And, of course, Duct tape (you never know what you'll need to repair).
Clip this column and make a family commitment to do this. Then ... do it.
Gail Fisher, author of "The Thinking Dog," runs All Dogs Gym & Inn in Manchester. If you would like a topic addressed in this column, email email@example.com or write c/o All Dogs Gym & Inn, 505 Sheffield Road, Manchester, NH 03103. You'll find past columns on her website.