Category Archives: disasters

How Facebook Helps Pets In Need

By Linda Cole

Anyone with a Facebook account understands the addictive nature of this social networking site. It’s a place where anyone can go to meet new people (with the proper precautions), get information and find pets that are in need of homes. The site even helps lost pets that have gone through natural disasters get reunited with frantic owners who were searching for them. Facebook is helping to change the plight of pets, one animal at a time.

Natural disasters affect not only the people who experience them directly, but those of us who only witness them via TV reports and now, social media. This year’s violent and deadly tornadoes have given new meaning to “keep your eye on the weather.” People who live in tornado prone states aren’t taking warnings and watches for granted this year. We can’t do anything about the weather, but we can help those affected by it in ways that weren’t possible five years ago.

Several days after the Joplin tornado, my Facebook news page was filled with posts from people who’d found pets in a demolished home or wandering aimlessly among the rubble. I also saw a number of posts from pet owners asking if anyone had seen their pet. It struck me then that Facebook had become a sort of “bulletin board” for lost and found. This is not what we see on TV news reports. Oh sure, we get some personal stories, but we don’t get the day-to-day activities that go on after a natural disaster. I gladly shared each post I saw hoping it might help reunite pets with their owners. It was my only way of trying to help. But the power of social media cannot be denied, and I know that sharing someone else’s post might lead to a person who was able to help in a way I couldn’t.

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Two Acts of Loyalty after Japan’s Earthquake and Tsunami

By Linda Cole

Natural disasters can happen in the blink of an eye, and people and animals caught in nature’s fury have their lives changed in a matter of minutes. Even with all the destruction, life goes on as stories of survival emerge from the rubble. Japan’s earthquake and tsunami devastated so many lives, but some were saved because of the devotion of dogs.

As an animal lover, when natural disasters happen I worry about the pets that are caught up in something they don’t understand. Pets that suddenly find themselves wandering through debris and shivering through cold nights with no shelter, food or clean water and no comforting voice from the ones they love.

Since the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, videos and stories of survival have been popping up on Facebook. One video in particular captured my attention. It shows two dogs left homeless by the devastation. One dog is injured and his friend stands guard over him in a true display of loyalty. When this video began to appear, the person posting it left a comment saying, “This is a hard video to watch. It’s heartbreaking.” So I passed it by not wanting to watch something I knew would make me cry. But it stuck with me as the days passed and I kept thinking about the dogs and wondering what their fate was.

The video was shot by a Japanese reporter and his cameraman surveying the destructive power of the tsunami in an area called Arahama. A dog approached but stayed a comfortable distance away from them. He gave a bark as if saying, “That’s close enough,” and went back to another dog lying in the background in front of a large metal barrel resting on its side. It’s obvious the dog was protecting his injured friend. Both dogs were muddy, wet, cold and probably hungry. No one knows how long they had been together, but it’s believed they knew each other. The uninjured dog wore a collar, so he was at least someone’s pet. The good news is, both dogs were rescued. The dog guarding his friend was taken to a shelter, and the injured dog was taken to a vet where he is being cared for.

One story of survival that has stayed with me recounted a 12 year old Shih Tzu named Babu and her owner, 83 year old Tami Akanuma, who rode out the earthquake in their home. Babu is not a dog who enjoys walks, but on the day of the earthquake, she insisted on going for a walk when the lights in the house began to flicker. Once outside, instead of following Tami, Babu yanked on her leash and went in the opposite direction towards a nearby hill. Each time Tami stopped to rest, Babu would urge her to keep moving by pulling on her leash to get Tami to move faster. Babu finally relaxed and stopped pulling, and Tami was amazed to have discovered they had walked a little over half a mile in just a few minutes. As she turned around to look down the hill, the tsunami crashed through her coastal town and Tami’s home was destroyed, along with everything else in the area.

Those of us who are close to our pets aren’t surprised by these two stories of devotion, but they are nonetheless humbling because they remind us how the strong bond we’ve built with our pets goes both ways. Even between two dogs.

I do think animals have an ability to predict the weather to a certain extent, and I’m sure Babu sensed the tsunami. She could have raced outside and left Tami behind – but she didn’t. Babu knew her job was to lead Tami to higher ground because of the impending danger she sensed. The uninjured dog in the first story could have taken off on his own to find shelter and food – but he didn’t. His devotion kept him by the side of his injured friend. Loyalty and love run deep once a bond and trust has been formed, and not even an earthquake’s destruction nor a tsunami could break their bond.

This isn’t a feel bad story. It’s a reminder to love your pet each and every day, and never take them for granted. It’s a reminder to “see” stray cats or dogs who are trying to survive the best they can because they could be someone’s lost pet. It’s a reminder to treat every animal with respect and realize how precious they all are. It’s a reminder to give the people and pets you love an extra hug. Life and security should never be taken for granted, because both can be changed in the blink of an eye.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Create Your Own Pet Emergency Kit

By Tamara L. Waters

You never know when a natural or man-made disaster will occur. Perhaps you already have a family disaster kit stashed somewhere, but what about your pets? To prepare for something that is unexpected and unpredictable, you should plan ahead by putting together your own pet emergency kit. Use some of these tips to get started.

A Container for Your Pet Emergency Kit

To keep all of your supplies in one place, you will need some type of container. A lidded box, backpack or duffle bag can hold your pet emergency kit and keep all items together and ready. Protect your kit from water damage (in the event of flooding) by putting all emergency kit items inside a plastic garbage bag, tie it tightly, and then put the bag into your container. Be sure to label your container “pet emergency kit” with a permanent marker. Mark it prominently in more than one spot.


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Disaster Preparedness for Pet Owners


By Lexiann Grant

Disasters come in all types and sizes, from local mishaps such as industrial fires or chemical spills, to regional or larger weather disasters like flooding, tornadoes, ice storms and hurricanes.

Every household should have a disaster plan for situations that require evacuation or remaining in your home. And that plan should include your pet.

First, if you have to leave, never leave your pets behind as this puts them in extreme danger. It’s important to know in advance where you can go with your animal companion – a relative’s, a pet-friendly hotel, or a kennel where you can board your pet until it’s safe to return home.

If you are away when disaster strikes, have a neighbor lined up who is willing to get your pets out and to safety. Provide them with keys or access ahead of time, as well as detailed instructions on your pets’ care, where their supplies are and where to take them.

Although the Red Cross website notes that health regulations prohibit pets in emergency shelters, some areas are beginning to set up disaster relief shelters for people with pets. Consult your local chapter for further information.

Make sure that your pet’s ID is current, whether a tag or microchip registry, and that your cell phone number and away-from-home contact information is also available. Carry a current picture of your pet in your wallet in case you get separated.

Keep a doggy (or kitty) survival kit ready to grab and go. This kit should contain such items as:

* Water and non-perishable pet food for about a week

* Portable or disposable bowls

* Medications; copies of medical records including rabies certificate

* Extra leash and collar, possibly glow-in-the dark or lighted

* Dog license

* Collapsible crate; bed or blanket

*Quick clean-up items like paper towels and pooper-scooper bags

* Small bag of kitty litter, pan and scoop

* Sweater for thin-coated dogs in cold climates

* A toy to help pass the time

Also consider a pet first aid kit. These pet-specific kits can be purchased from the Red Cross or pet-supply stores, or you can put one together yourself with your veterinarian’s advice and suggestions from Linda Cole’s informative article found here.

Your pet survival kit should also be readily available for times when you have to take shelter in your home. For severe weather like tornadoes, make sure there is space and you have provisions in your home shelter to care for your pet until the danger ends. Longer events, like power outages or blizzards, require additional plans to keep your pets warm.

In extreme situations, it may be necessary to pre-arrange for a relative or neighbor to take care of your pet until you are reunited. As much as you might not want to think about it, a pet owner’s disaster plans should include a person who would take your animal(s) in the event of your death. Include this information in your will, but also give it to a trusted friend or relative in advance.

Several organizations offer pet disaster preparedness and planning information online. Search the web pages of such groups as the ASPCA, the Red Cross, NOAA, www.ready.gov, FEMA, and the AVMA.

Hopefully you’ll never need to use your pet emergency plan, but if you do, knowing that you – and your furry family members – are prepared, should give you more peace of mind if disaster strikes.

Read more articles by Lexiann Grant

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

For 9/11: A Special Tribute to Search and Rescue Dogs


By Julia Williams

September 11, 2001 will always be remembered as the day two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center. When the Twin Towers collapsed, they created a mountainous heap of smoldering rubble that burned for months. Countless firefighters and rescue workers risked their lives to search for survivors in the Ground Zero wreckage. Among them were an estimated 250 to 300 K-9 search and rescue dogs and their handlers.

I thought it fitting that on this fateful day, we take a moment to pay tribute to the heroic efforts of these amazing canines that have helped humankind for so many years. Beyond the 9/11 disaster, search and rescue (SAR) dogs have come to our aid during hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and other calamities. Although most of the handlers maintain that their search and rescue dogs are just doing the job they were trained to do, many people – dog lovers and the general public alike – regard them as extraordinary.

Disaster response dogs are called upon to work under the most extreme conditions, in highly dangerous and often toxic environments. Most of the K-9 teams at the World Trade Center disaster site rotated on 12 hour work shifts. The SAR dogs bravely dug in the fiery rubble at Ground Zero despite getting their feet singed by white-hot debris. They courageously nosed through the noxious smoke and dust despite its potential to harm their lungs. Who among us mere mortals could withstand such an ordeal? Not I, which is why I consider these dogs to be heroes of the highest order.

Many different dog breeds are used in search and rescue operations, but they typically come from the herding, hunting or working breeds. Some of the more common SAR dogs are German Shepherds, Bloodhounds, Golden Retrievers, Border Collies and the Belgian Malinois. More important than the specific breed, however, is the dog’s disposition. Each search and rescue dog has its own unique set of skills and endurance abilities, but all are hard-working and focused on the task at hand.

I recently came across a wonderful book on this subject, titled DOG HEROES of September 11th:A Tribute to America’s Search and Rescue Dogs. Written by Nona Kilgore Bauer and the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, this oversized pictorial book is a riveting account of search and rescue work, and the dogs that play such a vital part in it. Profiles of various SAR teams show them hard at work at Ground Zero and the Pentagon, accompanied by descriptions of what they are doing. This is a very moving book, and a must-read for all dog lovers.

The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF) is a non-profit organization founded in 1996 and based in Ojai, California. According to their website, their mission is to “strengthen disaster response in America by recruiting rescued dogs and partnering them with firefighters and other first responders to find people buried alive in the wreckage of disasters.” There are currently 69 SDF-trained search teams located in California, Florida, New York, Oklahoma, and Utah. SDF offers the professionally trained canines at no cost to fire departments, and they ensure lifetime care for every dog in their program. If you would like to support on-going search canine efforts, contact the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation at 888-4-K9-HERO.

In memory of 9/11, please join me as I pay homage to all the remarkable search and rescue dogs that help us when disaster strikes. These dogs provide an invaluable service that saves lives, and they deserve our utmost respect.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.