May is National Animal Preparedness Month, but it’s so important, every day of the year, to be double-dog sure you keep dangers out of paws and claws reach.  Knowing know how to react and where to go should the worst happen can be a life-saver for your furry family members. Veterinarians are the experts, but most of us are not lucky enough to have one velcroed to our hip 24/7. Even if you live in a house with 10 humans, the cat is going to choke and the dog will cut his paw when you are home alone or AFTER veterinary hours, so you know what to do (aka pet first aid) BEFORE you can get to veterinary help!

As part of your WRITTEN EMERGENCY PLAN, know where your nearest ANIMAL EMERGENCY CENTER is! Don’t just save the phone number in your cell – actually drive there and learn the closest route from home.  Know which Animal ER is closest to your favorite dog park or hiking location, and…if you’re a pet sitter or mobile groomer, you need to research and find ones in all the neighborhoods you frequent. When you need to act quickly during an emergency, you must be on auto-pilot, not having to consciously think, “Is it a right or left turn?”  Your energy should be focused on staying calm and tending to your furry patient’s needs. Find out now what services your Animal ER offers and how they accept payment BEFORE you need to use them.  Know where to park, the closest entrance and any details that can alleviate stress.  Make sure your pet insurance is up-to-date, that you have an emergency credit card or other way to help your best pal get the care he may need.

Also carry a PET EMERGENCY CARD in your wallet next to your Driver’s License or ID.   Several companies offer services where you can sign up in their data base, but at least make a simple card like the one below.  If you are in an accident, First Responders need to know that you have animals at home who need care. Can you imagine pets left alone, unfed, dogs not let out while you are unconscious in a hospital?!  It’s unthinkable.  Do confirm with human caregivers you designate on the card that they are on board with helping in your time of need.  Caregivers should not be strangers to your pet but rather someone who knows them and has developed a rapport.  A professional pet sitter, such as one obtained through Pet Sitters International, is PAWSome as professionals participate in on-going education and are qualified to providing the best care possible for your fur kid!  To truly prepare your pets for an eventuality, I strongly encourage you to check in with my dear friend Debra Hamilton to MAAP out a plan for your furry family’s care.

Pet PAWparedness SDI Emergency Card

One more bit of paper work…a PET ALERT STICKER placed near your front door or window lets First Responders, Animal Control and other officials know there are pets home alone in the event you aren’t allowed back in your home due to an emergency. If you are told to evacuate, TAKE YOUR PETS WITH YOU, but I do realize you may not be home at the time, so having a sticker allows others to locate and evacuate your loved ones.  If you are home however, and leave with your pets, just cross out your sticker so that others aren’t spending time searching for animals that aren’t there and can go on to help those in need.

Pet PAWparedness SDI Pet Alert Sticker

A GRReat place to learn more about this and truly get disaster prepared, is my “The Pet Safety Crusader’s My Pet & Me Guide to Disaster PAWparedness.”  My Disaster PAWparedness Pack also includes a written emergency plan template, 2 Pet Emergency ID Cards and a Pet Alert Sticker.

By preparing for the worst, you just might prevent the worst from happening!



Denise Fleck is an award winning author and freelance writer.  After extensive training, practice, more training and more practice, she developed her own Pet First-Aid & CPR curriculum and has been teaching animal life-saving skills for close to 20 years with many success stories to share.  Additionally she developed a 5 month long Animal Care course for high school students in conjunction with the Burbank Unified School District and Animal Shelter.  She has demonstrated animal life-saving skills on CBS –TV’s “The Doctors,” Animal Planet’s “Pit Boss,” “Kirstie Alley’s Big Life” and countless other shows. To complement her teachings, Denise created a line of Pet First-Aid Kits, posters and books for children teaching animal respect and care!  Visit or call (818) 951-7962.

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