Jennifer Leary is a Philadelphia firefighter, the coordinator for the Philadelphia County Animal Response Team and founder of the Red Paw Emergency Relief Team.
In 1999, Hurricane Floyd claimed the lives of millions of animals, and thousands more were separated from their families. Many of these animals would have been saved if a pet-friendly coordinated response plan had been in effect. When Hurricanes Irene and Sandy struck, we saw that many counties had incorporated co-located pet shelters into their evacuation plans, but most people don’t know the amount of planning it takes to make this happen.
When a co-located pet shelter is developed, there are things an emergency planning committee needs to take into account:
The area where the animals are contained needs to be away from general population, but close enough so that the families can come by and care for their pets
There needs to be safe, outdoor access for dogs
A good source of ventilation is vital
The area needs to be pet-proofed and safe for all pets
As a volunteer for the Red Cross, I was assigned to a co-located pet shelter during Hurricanes Irene and Sandy. When a member of the community came to the shelter with their pet, the individual was greeted by a Red Cross volunteer who directed them to the temporary pet shelter. At pet check-in, a photo was taken of the family with their pet; along with proper paperwork, this helped maintain proof of ownership of the animal. The photo was also used to create special ID bracelets that were used as a visitor’s pass.
Emergencies come in many forms, and they may require anything from a brief absence from your home to permanent evacuation. Knowing their beloved pet has access to a safe haven helps families deal with the emotional tragedy of being forced out of their home.
Diabetes is a real problem for cats in this country, but the good news is that we now have a much better understanding of this condition, and even better, we can cure it in many cases. Best of all, we are learning how to prevent it, which is the ideal strategy for a healthy, happy cat.
Cause: It’s now believed that many cases of feline diabetes are caused by excess carbohydrates in the diet. Dry cat foods in particular can be high in carbohydrates. Cats are not designed to properly metabolize carbohydrates, and cats on dry food may become obese. Additionally, the excess of carbs forces the pancreas, the organ that produces insulin, to overwork. Over time, the pancreas can become exhausted, and lose the ability to make sufficient insulin. This lack of insulin causes diabetes.
Treatment: Most diabetic cats have not permanently lost the ability to produce insulin. In order to rest the pancreas and allow it to return to normal function, cats are given twice-daily insulin injections. It’s essential to carefully regulate diabetes so the cat receives the proper amount of insulin to restore the function of the pancreas while avoiding low blood sugar, a potential side effect of insulin treatment.
The second essential component of treatment is the cat’s diet. For the best chance of curing diabetes, most cats should eat a canned diet formulated for diabetes, or a canned kitten food. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian regarding the best diet for your own cat.
A note of caution: Cats who refuse to eat can become very ill. Any diet changes must be made cautiously, with careful monitoring of the appetite.
For optimal treatment of diabetic cats, it may be advisable to consult with a veterinary internal medicine specialist. We have two on staff at the ASPCA Animal Hospital: Dr. Pomrantz and Dr. Frank. To find a veterinary internist in your local area go to www.acvim.org.
Prevention: We all know that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” For diabetes prevention as well as urinary tract and digestive health, we advise feeding cats canned food in meals, rather than allowing them to graze on dry food. Just remember that when attempting to make any change in a cat’s diet, such as from dry to canned food, patience and caution are essential. Never allow a cat to “hunger strike,” which can cause serious illness.
Tomorrow, September 28, is International Rabbit Day, dedicated to arguably the most adorable animal with two ears!
Unfortunately, the sad truth is that they are also one of the most neglected animals. More often than not bunnies are only thought about during Easter-time festivities, but the range of cruelty they face never takes a holiday. From being slaughtered for their fur, farmed as food, used for product testing, and hunted for sport, bunnies endure endless cruelty.
Even rabbits kept as loving pets are regularly mistreated by being kept outdoors. Although an outdoor hutch has been the traditional housing for a rabbit, today we know better. A backyard hutch forces these social critters to live in unnatural isolation. Rabbits may be quiet, but they are extremely social and crave interaction. Another heartbreaking fact is that rabbits are very vulnerable to predators, and if frightened, can actually die from heart attacks!
If you were faced with a rapidly approaching hurricane or tornado, or were caught unawares by a devastating earthquake, what would happen to your pets? Do you have a plan for how you’d keep them safe?
If you’re among those who don’t have a plan, the time to create one is now. September is National Preparedness Month, and that means making sure you’re ready to keep both yourself and your pets safe in an emergency. Where to start? Read our tips for disaster preparedness. We’ll tell you everything you need to know to keep your precious companion animals safe in an emergency.
“It’s often too late to create a plan for your pets when you’re in the middle of a crisis,” says Tim Rickey, ASPCA Vice President of Field Investigations and Response. “The best thing to do is to be prepared in advance.”
Believe it or not, back-to-school time can be dangerous for your pets! Every September our amazing team at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) sees an increase in calls related to pets getting into backpacks.
Why should you keep your pets away from your kids’ backpacks?
Well, backpacks often contain items that can spell big trouble for the health of your furry family members, such as gum (which may contain xylitol), medications and inhalers.
So as your kids head back to school, please be sure to stash backpacks and lunch boxes out of your pets’ reach. And since we can’t watch our pets ALL the time, remember that the APCC is available 24/7/365 at (888) 426-4435. Keep that number handy by requesting a free ASPCA Pet Safety Pack, which contains a refrigerator magnet with the APCC's contact info!