Setting your dog up for success at the salon

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I get treats for going to the salon?! What are we waiting for – let’s go!

by Betsy Lane, MA

Most of us would love a day of pampering at a spa. Many dogs… not so much. A trip to the grooming salon involves many unfamiliar experiences and a certain amount of sensory overload from the sights, sounds, and smells of the salon. These “firsts” can be challenging for a dog—and we haven’t even talked about the grooming itself yet!

Many “firsts” are difficult for dogs, so it’s worth our time and effort to be sure they go well. As they say, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” We want to ensure our dogs get a stress-free start at the grooming salon, so they won’t be stressed by routine procedures like being bathed, brushed, clipped, or having their nails trimmed and ears cleaned.

The two most effective ways to help our dogs accept being groomed are (1) start slow and (2) offer lots of rewards.

Food is usually your best bet here. Choose something soft, smelly, and small, so you can give out a bunch of little pieces without filling your dog’s belly. Diced hot dogs, cheese, chicken, filet mignon, salmon—you name it. Discover what your dog absolutely LOVES, put a bunch of that in a baggie, tuck it in your pocket, and head out the door.

Your first trip to the salon will just be a social visit—much like stopping to chat with a friend you run into on the street. “We always encourage social visits to build positive associations,” says Alyssa Serafin, PetSmart Salon Leader. “Just come in, say hi, get a treat, and leave.” These baby steps help your dog become familiar with the salon environment, from the ambient noises, lights, and smells to the sometimes shiny, slippery floors.

Remember those treats in your pocket? Be generous with them! Watch for every brave, curious, relaxed, or happy thing your dog does and reward the heck out of it. Your dog walks past the sliding glass doors? Yay! Treat! Happily approaches a customer pushing a shopping cart? Yay! Treat! Acts curious and friendly towards the salon staff? Yay! Triple treats!

This technique (which has decades of scientific research supporting it) is called “positive reinforcement,” and it’s how we get more of the behaviors we want. As Alyssa says, “Start slow and make it easy for the dogs, and they’ll do better in the long run.”

Sure, you might make a few trips to the salon before any real grooming happens, but that’s a small investment of time that can pay off in a dog who’s reasonably happy being groomed for the rest of his or her clean, healthy, gorgeous life.

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Learn more at https://jobs.petsmart.com/salon

 

What’s up with those kitty whiskers?

cat whiskers

By Sandie Lee

Why DO cats have whiskers, anyway? Sure, they’re great for tickling your nose early in the morning when you’d rather be sleeping, but those long thick strands of hair (also known as vibrissae or tactile hairs), found on your cat’s face and on the back of its front legs (above the paws) serve some other [also very important] purposes.

They’re great navigational aids. Have you ever tried to make your way around a dark room? It’s tricky, isn’t it? Well, instead of bumping into things like us clumsy humans, a cat uses its whiskers to navigate dark areas.The whiskers allow cats to detect changes in air currents, which in turn keeps the animal from smacking into that bookshelf or footstool. Cats also use their whiskers to hunt, because they can detect the air currents around its prey.

If the whiskers fit… If you’ve noticed your cat poking her head through an opening and pausing, she’s doing more than just checking out what’s inside – she’sactually gauging if she’ll fit without getting stuck.

The whiskers on a cat’s muzzle are approximately the same length as the cat’s width (this may not apply to overweight cats). So if the whiskers fit into that opening without bending, then the cat knows it’s safe to proceed. 

Whisker fun fact: a cat’s muzzle has four rows of whiskers on each side. The two top rows can move independently of the bottom two rows.

They protect the eyes. When a cat is out in the tall grass or an area with lots of brush, the whiskers above the eyes serve as an automatic blinking trigger. If a foreign object touches these top whiskers, it immediately makes the cat blink. This serves to protect the eyes from debris or punctures.

Wait – cats have whiskers on their legs? We’ve already learned the cat’s muzzle-whiskers can detect the shift in air currents when hunting prey, but did you know the carpal whiskers (located just above the cat’s wrists on the front legs) also help it when hunting?

When a cat has its prey captured between its front paws, the carpal whiskers help her determine movement and which direction the animal is facing. Once the cat has this information, it can make an accurate killing bite.

They’re mood detectors. Don’t wait for kitty to give you a good swat to find out she’s in a bad mood – just take a look at her whiskers!

Loosely hanging whiskers mean “I’m relaxed.” A battle-ready or frightened cat’s whiskers will lie flat against the face to prevent damage, while forward-facing whiskers mean that the cat is in hunting mode.

However, don’t rely just on the whiskers before going in for a cuddle; be sure to read your cat’s other body language signs to help determine its mood or availability for some quality snuggle time.

No touching! Never cut or tamper with a cat’s whiskers. This will not only cause disorientation, but also fear, stress, and even pain due to their extreme sensitivity.

Now that you know how important whiskers are, take notice of all the ways your cat uses them. Whether he’s hunting, making his way through a dark room, or just telling you how much he loves your company, those whiskers are as much a part of your cat’s makeup as his endearing purr.

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sandie-lee-writerSandie Lee has been in the writing industry for over 20 years. She hails from a small city in Ontario, Canada where there are two seasons; winter and not winter! Her husband and two furbabies, Milo and Harry, make sure she is diligently writing each day.

Renewal isn’t always about new

rosh hashanah

Hey Jamie… What’s with that weird pic of strangers, an array of sweets, and a Golden Retriever? 

Good question. 

It was a few snapshots I took last week at Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year and season of reflection and renewal) dinner. I meant to get a few better ones, but by the time we drank a couple glasses of wine, and consumed waaaaay too much brisket and kugel, I was too tired. But here’s the thing… see that cute dog? That’s Charlie Bear, my cousin’s 1.5 year old Golden. She’s a beauty, and has her family wrapped around her four not-so-little paws. So much so that walking her has become a bit of a nightmare for them. My cousin Kiki shared that she’d tried everything from the Gentle Leader to a prong collar and nothing worked. Sitting on her counter, I saw a brand new fuchsia colored Sensation Harness just screaming to be opened and fit on Charlie.

Slightly buzzed, brisket-engorged dog trainer be damned. 

Fifteen minutes later I had Charlie Bear walking nicely next to me on her new harness. 

Moral(s) of the story? 

  1. Once a dog trainer, always a dog trainer. 
  2. Renewal isn’t always about new. 

Happy Autumn. Celebrate the turn of seasons and do something this week that makes you feel renewed. It will feel amazing. I promise. 

Jamie Sig Trans - First Only

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And speaking of new beginnings – a huge welcome to all of the new friends we made at the Pet Sitters International Conference in New Orleans last week! (And a big shout out to our Education Director, Lynda Lobo, who wrangled that event single-handedly.)

High fives to our contest winners as well:

How to get what you want from your dog groomer

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by Betsy Lane, MA

When you get a haircut, you want to walk out looking and feeling great—and you want the same things when your dog goes to the groomer! In this post, we’ll look at how to get the look you want at the grooming salon and what to do if you’re not satisfied.

A successful trip to the grooming salon leaves you, your dog, and the groomer all feeling great—but, just like with human haircuts, things don’t always turn out the way you thought they would.

How can you maximize the chances of your dog being runway-ready after a trip to the salon, and what should you do if things veer off course?

That’s what we asked PetSmart Grooming Salon Leader Renee Fuentes and her team of professional dog groomers. Lucky for us, they shared five terrific tips for successful trips to the salon.

  1. When deciding on length, groomers can start by taking off half the length of the coat, then check to see if you’d like a bit more taken off. “We can always take off more, but we can’t put it back on,” they note.
  2. If your dog’s coat is badly matted, shaving the coat might be the only choice. In this case, the groomer should be willing and able to show you what to do at home to keep your dog looking and feeling terrific between salon visits. And remember, “You can stop in the salon between grooms for brush-outs or baths, which will help the skin and coat grow back and avoid the need for shaves.”
  3. If the salon’s shave chart—which shows different blade lengths (3, 4, 5, 7, etc.)—confuses you, a groomer “can do a little pre-shave in an inconspicuous area to show what the 4 would look like compared to the 5, and you can see the difference in how much of the coat comes off.” Feel free to request this, if it’s not offered.
  4. Remember to tell the groomer if you like short ears, long tail, and so on. “Pictures always help, too, as does hearing about the pup’s lifestyle and health.”
  5. When you check out, the groomer should ask how you like the cut. If there are things you’d like to discuss, it’s often best to take your dog outside to go potty, and then come back in for any adjustments. Renee adds, “I’ll add a note about their preferences to their file, so it’s perfect next time. PetSmart Grooming Salons have a Look Great Guarantee, as well.”

Here’s to every dog looking and feeling great after every trip to the grooming salon!

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Learn more at https://jobs.petsmart.com/salon

How to train your cat to stay off the counter

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By Emily Bruer

If you’ve ever had a cat you likely have had to deal with them jumping on the counters. While this may not particularly bother you, it can be annoying and (let’s be honest) unsanitary.

There are lots of theories about the best way to go about this, but many can actually damage the relationship between you and your feline friend. Follow the steps in this article and you can train your cat without breaking your bond!

Why is the counter so darned attractive, anyway?

Let’s start with the reasons behind why your cat wants to be on the counter in the first place.

Most cats are social animals and they enjoy the company of their two legged companions. What’s the best way for them to be near you while you’re in the kitchen?

That’s right, to jump on the counter, this puts them up high and closer to your eye level where they can easily get your attention and socialize with you.

The second reason is that cats enjoy being up high, where they can watch out for predators (or the family dog) and to hunt for prey (or treats). While our feline roommates don’t need to be on high alert for predators or prey anymore, they’re hardwired to like high places.

Now, for the training

While our cats may be our fur-kids, they don’t understand our social etiquette and it’s our job to teach them in a way they can understand.

Buy your cat a tree to climb on – Not just any old tree, of course, but a specially made cat tree.

You can pick one up at just about any bricks and mortar or online retailer. You want to make sure the tree you pick has several different perches at a few different heights, especially if you have a multi-cat home. Keep in mind that some cats prefer perches with a horizontal spread, while others like high vertical towers. 

Food training – Once you have the tree all set up, you can begin training your cat. Many cats will simply prefer their tree to the counter, so you may not need to do any training at all. But if you find your kitty is still counter surfing, it’s time to get out the treats.

Cats can be finicky eaters, so you may have to try a few different high value treats before you find one she likes. My cat’s favorites are turkey, tuna, and sardines.

Start giving your kitty treats any time she is on her cat tree while you are in the kitchen. This will cause her to begin associating her cat tree with the yummy treats you are providing!

Any time you catch her on the counter gently pick her up and place her on the floor and then ignore her until she jumps on the tree.

Eventually she will begin to understand that when she jumps on the counter you remove her and ignore her, but when she jumps on the cat tree she gets lots of love and yummy snacks.

If that doesn’t work – If you have been trying this method for a few weeks and still haven’t noticed a marked improvement, the next step would be to add something the kitty doesn’t like to the counter – double sided tape.

Line the edges of the counter and places she likes to sit with double sided tape. The feeling of the tape on her paws will be uncomfortable and she will eventually get the idea that it’s not fun to sit on the counter.

This method of training is a great one for kitties, as the harsher ones (like squirt bottles) can cause fear and negative associations with you. Creating fear in cats is the last thing you want to do, as in extreme cases it can cause aggression and urinating outside of the litter box. (It’s also not a very nice thing to do to your little buddy.)

So stick with these tips, because with the right tools and some yummy treats even the most stubborn cat can learn to leave the counters to the humans and hang out on her tree!

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emily-bruer-pawedinEmily has been penning the adventures of her imagination since she was old enough to hold a pencil. Working at animal shelters for the last five years she learned an incredible amount about animal care and behavior. She is currently employed at a vet clinic where she continues her animal education. Emily’s love of animals is evident when you step into her home, which she shares with six dogs and six cats, all of whom were rescues.

Put your paws up for Elvis Pupcakes!

Hattie pupcakes

This weekend we went to The Chopping Block in Chicago for the homemade dog treats demo with Chef Leah Stuckey. All of the treats were pretty tasty (of course we tried them ourselves), but the Elvis Pupcakes were the biggest hit with our four-legged family members. Because from a dog’s point of view, you can’t go wrong with bacon and peanut butter.

Elvis Pupcakes with Banana Cake, Peanut Butter Frosting, and Bacon Sprinkles

Yield: approx 12 cupcakes | Active time: 30 minutes | Start to finish: 50 minutes

For the cupcakes:

  • 5 eggs
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Water as needed, to thin batter

For the frosting:

  • 2 cups natural, smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

For the topping:

  • 6 strips of bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled

Instructions:

  1. Preheat over to 375 degrees F and line a muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, bananas, and coconut oil until well combined. Fold in the coconut flour and baking soda.
  3. Evenly portion the batter between the muffin tins, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly touched. Allow to cool.
  4. While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare the frosting. In a medium size bowl using an electric mixer, beat together the peanut butter and yogurt until smooth and fluffy.
  5. Frost cupcakes with the peanut butter-yogurt mixture, and sprinkle the tops with bacon.

Your dog will say “Thank you, thank you very much!”

Chef pupcakes
Chef Leah Stuckey with homemade Elvis Pupcakes. Yum!

Note: check with your vet before giving your pets new foods or treats. A special note about peanut butter and other ingredients – read the labels carefully to make sure they don’t contain xylitol, which is very toxic to pets.

How to help your dog’s allergies

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By Mary Beth Miller

Humans aren’t the only ones who suffer from itchy, scratchy allergies.

Just like us, our dogs develop allergy symptoms when their immune system begins red flagging every particle of pollen, dust. or mold. Although harmless in the environment, a small allergen can become a big problem if it is ingested, inhaled, or comes into contact with the skin.

If your dog is a seasonal or chronic allergy sufferer, it is of the utmost importance that you learn everything you can on how to help your dog’s allergies.

Keep an eye out for allergy symptoms

Dogs with allergies are pretty hard to ignore. The constant itching, scratching, and chewing are enough to make everyone in the house crazy. However, there are other allergy symptoms a dog can develop that you may not immediately pick up on.

In an attempt to rid the body of these “dangerous” substances, dogs can develop a variety of respiratory, digestive, and skin-related symptoms.

  •       Constant licking
  •       Swollen paws
  •       Hot spots
  •       Snoring (the result of an swollen throat)
  •       Diarrhea
  •       Vomiting
  •       Sneezing
  •       Itchy ears
  •       Ear infections
  •       Itchy back
  •       Itchy tail
  •       Watery eyes
  •       Scabbed, moist, red, and itchy skin
Identify the allergens

Canine allergies mirror that of human allergies, but you might not think of these common allergens as affecting your dog:

  •       Food substances (soy, wheat, corn, pork, chicken, beef)
  •       Plastic or rubber materials
  •       Flea and mite shampoos
  •       Fabric
  •       Cleaning products
  •       Perfumes
  •       Topical flea/tick preventatives
  •       Prescription drugs
  •       Cigarette smoke
  •       Feathers
  •       Dander
  •       Mold
  •       Weed, grass, or tree pollen
  •       Fleas
  •       Dust mites
Keep allergens out of your home & off your dog

Wherever a dog roams, environmental allergens are present. The pollen from the grass and flowers are carried in on your pet’s fur and paws. Not only does your dog bring these eye watering substances in your home, but you could be carrying them inside the home, too.  And don’t forget about fleas! Adult fleas and their eggs can easily be carried in on the bottom of your shoes or hitch a ride with your dog.

Here is a list of easy and effective tips to reduce environmental and pest allergies:

1. To prevent tracking in allergens, wipe your dog’s paws with a damp washcloth before entering the house; leave your own shoes outside or in a mudroom or garage.  

2. Give your dog a weekly bath and brush him daily to remove pollen from the fur.

3. Vacuum, dust. and sweep the home regularly to pick up any stragglers that you might have missed.

4. Wash your dog’s bedding and plush toys regularly with a gentle, hypoallergenic detergent.   

Pinpoint your dog’s allergies

If your dog is suffering from an allergy you just can’t put your finger on, you may want to consider an intradermal skin test. Performed by a veterinary dermatologist, an intradermal skin test or allergy test will help pinpoint the cause(s) of all that itchiness. 

The process of a skin test involves shaving a small patch of hair on the dog’s body to visibly see the skin’s reaction to various allergens after they are injected under the skin.

If your dog is indeed allergic to a substance, the injection site will swell, redden, and become itchy. The test is highly effective (if pricey) and allows the vet to isolate an allergen, planning a course of action.

If having a skin allergy test performed on your dog is a bit out of your price range, there are other at home tests you can do.

Monitoring your dog’s symptoms inside and outside the home is also an effective way to pinpoint an allergy, it will just take more time. If your dog tends to have more allergies inside the home than out, you may want to focus on dust mites, mold, or fleas as the culprits.

Don’t forget about food allergies! Food products such as soy, wheat, corn, pork, dairy, chicken, or beef are all common ingredients in dog food and treats. If you notice your dog has itchy skin combined with hair loss, vomiting, and diarrhea, you may want to take a look at that bowl of kibble. Talk to your veterinarian about a safe way to conduct a food allergy experiment with your dog.

Maintain flea treatments

It only takes one flea to turn your dog into an itchy mess. Flea allergy dermatitis, an overreaction to flea saliva, is very common in dogs, especially sighthounds. Hair loss on the back and tail base are sure signs your dog is allergic to fleas.

The best way to prevent flea allergies is to keep the tiny pests off Fido. Talk with your veterinarian to select the best flea preventative that works for you and your dog.

Allergies are everywhere and we aren’t the only ones who suffer from itchy, watery eyes, and dry, scratchy skin. A large number of our dogs seem to be cursed with overactive immune systems, too. Your dog’s allergies cannot be cured, but you can make allergy season more bearable for everyone!

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mary-beth-miller-pawedinMary Beth Miller is a registered veterinary technician from southeast Iowa. She works in a large/small animal veterinary clinic and also volunteers at the local Humane Society, Emergency Animal Care Center, as well as the Iowa Parrot Rescue. Her passion lies in helping save the lives of animals. MaryBeth has three dogs, a Siberian husky named Rocky and two rescue dogs named Sambita and Nina.

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. 

star

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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.

Skunked!

Skunk kit

by Betsy Lane, MA

The days are getting shorter, temperatures are beginning to fall, and the animals outside are getting bolder as they single-mindedly prepare for winter’s chill.  Just when you think it’s safe to go for a nice evening walk… SKUNKED!

So, that funny-looking black-and-white cat wasn’t a cat, after all—and you have the stinking-to-high-heaven dog to prove it. What do you do now?

Growing up in California, skunks were an integral part of every summer. Back in the bad old days, treating a skunked dog meant clamoring around for gallons of tomato juice, endless cleaning up of said juice, and—adding insult to injury—discovering your dog still smelled horrible! Everyone was miserable, and there was little to do but wait for the stench to dissipate… which usually happened right about the time the dog got sprayed again. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Most dogs are surprisingly slow to learn that chasing a skunk never ends well. This means we, as dog guardians, have had a whole lot of opportunities to figure out what works to get that nasty stink out of our furry friends. The recipe below is cheap, easy, and effective. I keep the ingredients in a bag in the pantry, right by my back door—so I can grab it and use it on the dog outside, with the hose. (Better yet, put it in a small plastic bucket.) I marked the bag “SKUNK KIT” and put instructions inside, in case I’m lucky enough not to be the one doing the de-skunk-ifying (hope springs eternal). This system is so easy, the trickiest part is remembering to restock the kit after using it.

Of course, you can always take your skunked dog to a professional groomer—PetSmart has salons in more than 1,000 locations across the country—but give this a try in the meantime. I think you’ll be surprised by how effective a 5-minute bath with this concoction can be!

Skunk kit

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup baking soda
  • 1 quart hydrogen peroxide (3% solution)
  • 2 teaspoons dish soap (preferably Dawn)

I also add a teaspoon measure and a ¼-cup measure, plus an absorbent towel or two.

Instructions:

Combine the baking soda, peroxide, and soap in a bucket or bowl. Add up to a quart of water (just reuse the peroxide bottle) to make more solution as needed for a larger dog. Saturate any stinky fur, avoiding eyes and nose. Let sit for 5 minutes. Rinse well with clear water and towel dry.

That’s it! Don’t forget to restock the kit!

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Learn more at https://jobs.petsmart.com/salon

Disaster preparedness for pet professionals

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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.

Evacuation

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.

Resources

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