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two year anniversary

Hurricane Katrina Rememberance Day 8/29

August 28, 2007

Two years. It doesn’t seem like two years have passed, but then again, there isn’t a day that goes by that I still don’t think about my time spent in New Orleans doing pet rescue after Hurricane Katrina made landfall.

It’s ironic, too, that I just spent almost two hours in a doctors office, specifically a pulmonologist (lung specialist), to get my lungs checked out. I developed mild asthma just before I went to NOLA and now it’s to the point where I can’t breathe deeply without wheezing, nor can I be active like I used to be. Oh, I still go to the gym, and sometimes force myself beyond my limits, but I always end up paying the price with my lungs physically hurting for a day or two.

I’m praying it’s just minor, like perhaps I need to exercise and strengthen my lungs, but deep down I’m afraid it’s worse. What if I really was exposed to toxic mold and other pollutants that were floating around there in the constant dust you could visibly see? I had friends who were over there with me tell me that doctors have found all sorts of nasty stuff in their lungs and that they are permanently damaged. We’ll see, I guess. He’s ordered a set of X-rays and a lung capacity test where I have to run on a treadmill with a tube over my nose and mouth. And that’s just to start. "The basics", he called those tests. Where we go from there depends on what, if anything, he finds in those tests.

No, no, no. I’m fine. I have to be fine. After all, I eat super-freaking healthy, I scarf antioxidant-laden food and teas like crazy, I still do yoga and I can still climb a set of stairs without getting winded. What’s there to be afraid of, right?

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Hurricane Katrina Pet Remembrance Day – 8/29

August 28, 2007

In an effort to remember all the pets that were left behind after Hurricane Katrina made landfall two years ago, I would like to share several disaster readiness tips for pet parents that I found beneficial to follow. I hope these assist you when setting a plan for coping with the effects of disasters of any kind to remember to provide for your beloved pets’ health and safety needs, in addition to any you have in place for your human family members.

Emergency and Disaster Animal Preparedness

As a conscientious animal owner you probably consider your pets as members of the family. In the event that a natural disaster hits your neck of the woods, are you prepared to take your pets with you and provide for all their needs during the evacuation time? If not, here are some guidelines:

Food and Water: Stock up on dry or canned food, being sure to include a mechanical can opener.  When putting down a water supply, remember to have plenty available or your pet as well as a drinking bowl.  A good rule is to pack a 5-7 day supply.

Medications: Be certain to have a sufficient supply on hand. Keep a photocopy of essential or life-supporting pet prescriptions in your emergency kit.

Identification: Microchipping your dog or cat will increase your chances of reuniting in case of separation during an emergency. By embedding a microchip with your contact information under your pet’s skin, a veterinarian or animal facility, with a simple scan, will be able to identify an animal’s owners.  In some evacuation cases, a pet may have to go to a separate shelter or veterinary kennel since human shelters frequently prohibit animals for health and space reasons. If you reside in an area where evacuations are likely, be informed about pet shelter options before disaster strikes. In addition to microchipping, if you and your animals must be separated, be certain you also have your pets securely tagged and keep photocopies of the tags (and rabies tags as well) in your emergency kit. Also, have recent photos of your pets to make identifications easy and swift.

Transporting: If you must evacuate, make every effort to bring your pet.  To ensure safe evacuation for a pet who may be stressed or agitated by the situation, use tagged leashes, collars and/or harnesses and keep the animal close by family members for both comfort and security. Smaller pets, especially felines, are best transported in well-ventilated wire crates or carriers.

Sanitation, First Aid: Pads, paper towels, rags, a litter supply, and pet-safe disinfectant will come in handy.  Add some over-sized bandages and gauze strips to your family first aid kit if you have a larger animal. 

Comfort Zone: A favorite blanket or chew toy can be just the thing to provide a sense of security for an animal under stress. In such times, take a moment to reassure your best friend that you are there, protecting him or her.

Credit: North Shore Animal League

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