Lucky Star


Star 2

By Chris Kreutz

We found Star when we were down in Texas bringing supplies for volunteers and survivors of Hurricane Harvey.

We had just dropped off our first load of supplies at the Cowboy Church in Orange, TX and were heading up to Alvarado to pick up a half dozen dogs (and a rabbit) being transported back with us to P.A.W.S. Tinley Park. These pets had been surrendered by their owners, and were being transported north to make room in Texas shelters for displaced animals waiting to be reunited with their people.

A few hours into our journey, I spotted something in the bushes on the side of the road. We quickly decided to turn around – but it took a bit of maneuvering, since we were hauling a horse trailer. By the time we got back to the spot, a little brown dog was in the middle of the other lane, pawing at some roadkill. We slammed on the brakes, but the car in the other direction was still gunning it hard. Terrified, we began honking our horn as I jumped out with a lead. The speed limit was 75 mph, so if the oncoming car didn’t stop, that little brown dog didn’t have a chance.

Luckily, the car slowed some at the last minute, and as soon as this sweet girl saw me, she scooted across the road, head and bum down, tail wagging furiously. She slammed into my body, so happy to see me as I burst into tears.

Right then and there I committed to making sure this girl has the best life possible.

You can follow Star’s story here. 



Chris KreutzChris Kreutz lives in Chicago with her husband. Although their children are off in college, their home still bustles with an assortment of animals. She is a freelance animal handler for advertising and media, a program leader for Canine Therapy Corps, and teaches private lessons with AnimalSense Canine Training and Behavior. Chris is very involved in animal rescue, and donates her time transporting domestic and farm animals to new homes and sanctuaries around the country.

Disaster preparedness for pet professionals

23458617 - a dog is wet and sad in front of a puddle in the rain

The summer of 2017 has been relentless with its storms. Unprecedented rain has been dumped on Texas and a category 5 hurricane is heading for Florida, after having laid waste to islands throughout the Caribbean.

Whether or not you live in or around a storm’s path, you should have an emergency action plan created, practiced, and ironed out.

This article will provide information to those pet care providers who may be affected, as well as measures for preparation that any pet care company should take to make certain you, your staff, and your client’s animals are safe.

Emergency action plan

An emergency action plan is an essential set of documents, policies, procedures, and delegations that need to be laid out immediately (ideally, before you open your doors or book your first client). This goes for boarding facilities, grooming salons, pet sitters, or any person with animals in their charge.

We can’t emphasize this enough: everyone needs an emergency plan. Tornados, hurricanes, flash floods, fires, fallen trees, and even acts of terrorism are real issues with a serious set of consequences.  Below are some guidelines to help you and your company be prepared for whatever natural or unnatural disasters come along.

Insurance coverage

Check your insurance coverage; many policies do not cover floods or “acts of God”. Go through this thoroughly so in the event a disaster does strike, you only have to deal with the preparation and not the rebuild.

Does it cover lost wages? You and your staff won’t be able to work if the roads are impassable or your clients have canceled.

Does your insurance cover losses not only to the building or property, but also the cost to transport and find alternative housing for any pets in your care? Are you still liable for paying rent to a landlord whether or not the building is habitable?

Have your insurance agent review your lease, preferably before you sign it, so that you can decide on additional coverage to take care of things your landlord won’t. Your insurance agent should also be able to direct you to the type of coverage or riders you will need for your geographic area and common natural disasters – fires, floods, earthquakes, etc.

Staff roles

Start with staff obligations. Assign your staff to very specific roles and timelines to be followed during a natural disaster.

Who will be in charge of contacting clients about the current plan, whether it’s shelter in place or evacuate?

Who will be watching the news for updates from local authorities dictating evacuation orders?

If you have a building or client homes in your care, who is responsible for making sure the structures are safe? Appoint someone to check that trees have not fallen on the building, electrical wires are not hanging, flooding is not occurring in the basement, etc. Be very clear in your service agreements about the extent of your responsibility for real estate or home goods. No one should be risking their lives to save family heirlooms or laptops.

Assign someone to create and maintain a disaster supply list. Either you or a member of your staff should be assigned the task of checking on quantities, expiration dates, and battery levels. This is a great quarterly assignment. Creating this list will also assist those of you not in the path of a natural disaster to know exactly what you can help provide to those who are.

Have client medical records and contacts stored securely on a cloud server, and provide access to a trusted person outside of your business area. In the event that the internet and power goes out, you will want a point person who knows what to do and who to contact.

Assign someone whose sole responsibility is the physical evacuation of staff and animals. They should know where to go if a flood, fire, or evacuation is ordered, and should plan for the greatest number of animals your company would ever have in your care.


Transportation is key. If you have five pets that you are pet sitting or a hundred dogs in your daycare, what plans do you have to transport them to safety?

Speak with car rental companies about cargo vans. Crates can be ratcheted down to the frame of the van for safer transportation. Beware of box trucks, as they do not have adequate airflow or temperature control – these will be great concerns.

Whatever vehicles you have access to, make certain they always have gas and are in working condition. If you know that a hurricane is heading in your direction, don’t wait until the last minute to rent a vehicle; even if you have to pay for an extra week to let a van sit in your parking lot, it’s a small price to pay if you have to get out in a hurry. This also gives you luxury of adequate preparation time, so that if you do need to evacuate all you’ll need to do is put the pets into the van and head out.

Once the animals are securely ready for transport, who’s driving and where are they going? Is there another boarding facility nearby that has a large training space you can use during an emergency? Is there a warehouse that someone you know owns that would allow you to shelter animals? If so, consider getting contracts signed and adding these locations to your insurance policy.

Shelter in place

The storm may not be a category 5 and your facility or client home may in fact be on high ground. Make a shelter in place plan that will have you prepped for power outages and multiple days and nights stuck on the premises; make certain food, water, cleaning supplies, etc. are all stocked and accounted for.

During winter storms, pipes can freeze, the power can go out, and the heating can stop. Always have plenty of blankets and insulating materials to keep you and the pets warm.

If the power goes out during a summer storm, that means the air conditioning goes out with it.  Make a plan to keep the animals cool and covered from the elements.

Supply list

Here is a recommended (but certainly not exhaustive) list of items to always have on hand. Store them in waterproof plastic bins, clearly labeled and easily accessible.

For items that need batteries (radios, fans, flashlights etc.), store the batteries in plastic bags taped to the device so they don’t corrode and render the item useless.

Generators and associated fuel should be stored outside of any areas where humans and animals will be. When generators are running, make certain the exhaust is pointed away from breathing beings. Carbon dioxide poisoning can be deadly.

Cleaning agents like bleach should be stored in watertight plastic bins, especially if flooding is a concern. You do not want chemicals leaching into the water that you and the animals may have to walk through or even drink.

  • Radios
  • Duct tape
  • Folding table
  • Portable 20” box fans
  • Collar bands to place on animals for identification
  • Storage containers
  • Laptop computer and charger
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Trash can
  • Trash bags
  • Slip leads
  • Muzzles in assorted sizes
  • Cable ties
  • Bed sheets
  • Binders with paper and pens for notes/documenting
  • Hand disinfectant
  • Flea spray
  • Paper towels
  • First aid kit (human)
  • First aid kit (animal)
  • Leashes
  • Latex gloves
  • Shop lights
  • Dog/puppy food
  • Cat/kitten food
  • Bleach
  • Dish soap
  • Generators
  • Electrical cords
  • Gas cans
  • Bug spray
  • Shovels
  • Water
  • Food for staff
Put your plan in writing

Email it to your staff, have it in your handbook, put it on your website, store it on a cloud server, laminate it and hang it on the walls of your facilities. You can even pass it out to your clients (after deleting any sensitive information) and suggest that they put on their fridges. Let people both inside and outside of your organization know what you will do and where you will go if disaster strikes.

If you already have a plan, we hope this serves as a good checklist to help you be as prepared as possible. Never forget that people are always there to help, so make certain part of your plan includes organizations, other companies, friends. or family you can rely on ffor help during an emergency.  

Not affected by the disaster?

Pet care professionals who are not in the path of the storm or directly affected by the disaster often have the resources to help you in your time of need. Even though we are all busy and don’t always budget for disasters, it’s a good policy to set aside some of your time and money to help others when they need it.

Always stay connected to, and network with, pet care businesses in your area and beyond. Competition doesn’t matter when human and animal lives are at stake.

Do you have a vehicle that can transport goods and bring pets back? Do you have supplies on the list above that you could send/ship or deliver to those in need?

Do you have a facility with space to foster pets that need to come out of the affected zone, or even just space in your home for one? Our founder Jamie Migdal is fostering a sweet little white dog named Sassy. Jamie met her while volunteering at the Hurricane Harvey animal intake at The Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago. Sassy was fresh off the plane and still homeless, but with good fortune found her way into Jamie’s home.

Disasters are seemingly everywhere, but you should never feel helpless in the face of them. An emergency action plan doesn’t just have to cover you and yours when you are directly affected. Consider stepping into action when your fellow pet care professionals need assistance; we’re in this industry together and together, we can help thousands of people and pets get their lives back together.


In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, it became common for everyone from pet professionals to pet lovers to emergency response crews to help stranded pets in need. At FetchFind. we want to share our resources with anyone who will be helping animals to be as successful as possible in their efforts. The stranded animals depend on us for their very survival, but they can be fearful, shy, or aggressive (even when they know we’re trying to help). Please read and share this Disaster Relief graphic to help the humans and animals get connected and to safety as soon as possible.

Disaster Relief


Make someone happy with Animal-Assisted Therapy!

AAT edited

Have you heard of animal-assisted therapy (AAT)? It’s where animals and humans join forces to provide comfort and happiness to people who may need it. There are tens of thousands of therapy animal teams in the United States and Canada, and it’s not just limited to dogs – teams can include cats, horses, birds, pigs, and even llamas!

The effects of AAT can be almost miraculous. For example, Paulette (human, and one of our fabulous FetchFind team members) and Sophie (Newfoundland) were on a hospice visit, and when they got there the nurses said that it would probably be a waste of time because the patient had refused to speak since her arrival at the facility. But they went into the room anyway, and Paulette said, “If you hate dogs or want me to leave, give me a nod. Otherwise we’re just going to sit right here for a little while.” They all sat in silence for an entire hour, with Sophie at Paulette’s feet. Then they left.

A few days later, Paulette and Sophie returned. When they walked into the room, the patient exclaimed, “The lady with the dog! Come sit down and tell me your name.” No one was more surprised than the nurses at the patient’s enthusiasm, and everyone (including Sophie!) was smiling at the end of the visit.

There are many benefits of becoming a therapy team. The training that you and your dog go through is a great bonding experience. Once qualified, your visits can be the highlight of someone’s week, and can mean the world to people in confined or limited situations.

Think you and your pet have what it takes to become a therapy team? Consider the following before signing on.

Your pet will need to:

  • Be controllable, reliable, and predictable
  • Pass a comprehensive health screening
  • Pass multi-part skill and aptitude tests

You (the human) will need to:

  • Pass multi-part skill and aptitude tests
  • Be comfortable working in environments such as hospitals, assisted-living facilities, retirement homes, and rehab centers
  • Be willing to commit to regular visits at certain facilities

Want to take the next step? Check out the following organizations:



Learn more about AAT on Pets Mean Business! In this podcast, Jamie Migdal talks to Mary Margaret Callahan, the Senior National Director of Program Development at Pet Partners, about the difference between service and therapy animals, the future of animal assisted intervention, and the power of the human-animal bond. 


Spring is here – get out and volunteer!



By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

I find it a lot easier to contemplate new projects when the weather starts warming up. Maybe it’s the longer days. Maybe it’s the rising sap. Whatever it is, every year around this time I feel like doing a wholesale purge of all the stuff I’ve accumulated over the winter and starting something new.

Lots of shelters and rescues get busy in the spring, too, and many see an uptick in adoptions as the weather gets better. With the increased activity, many of these organizations find themselves short-handed and scrambling to take care of the potential adopters as well as the animals. The start of kitten season also puts additional stress on limited resources.

If you’re interested in doing volunteer work with animals but don’t know exactly what you want to do, check out the opportunities at one your local shelters. The larger shelters generally have a range of volunteer opportunities available, and most will allow cross-training into different programs. These shelters tend to have a wait list, so if you want to sign up be prepared to wait a bit for an open orientation date.

Almost all shelters and rescues need foster volunteers, so if you can have pets in your home this is a great way to help without committing to a certain number of hours at an outside facility. Many rescues are foster-based, which means they can’t bring an animal into their program without already having a foster home lined up for it.  A foster pet’s expenses (food, medicine, vet visits, equipment) are covered while in your care, so it’s a great way to be involved for very little cost.

You can also volunteer with your own animals, through programs like Pet Partners. Opportunities for animal-assisted therapy range from educational programs with at-risk youth to hospital or care home visits to de-stressing sessions with college students. Some organizations even allow human-animal teams to include pets other than dogs and cats, such as birds, horses, miniature pigs, and llamas.

In addition to all of the other benefits, volunteering is a great way to build or fill in gaps on a resume. Beyond taking care of the animals, most places will have volunteer opportunities available for people with social media, marketing, photography, clinic, and special event experience; and, if you don’t have the experience but want to get some, it’s a great way to get started.

Where are your favorite places to volunteer? We’d love to hear from you!


Did you know that you can post your volunteer opportunities on our job board? Register for a profile here or contact us at for more details!