Guest blog by Lisa Rotter, First Responder with the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team.
Sometimes it’s the smallest things that make the biggest impression. In my first year of responding with the ASPCA’s Field Investigations and Response Team, I have been on all sorts of memorable deployments. Today I find myself in the quiet town of Binghamton, New York, responding to the devastating floods that submerged much of the surrounding counties.
Our job is simple—we are providing a safe, clean environment for pets while their families sort through the rubble of their waterlogged homes, trying to regain some semblance of normalcy. We are proud to provide them with this service as they feverishly work to bring their companions home.
Yet what strikes me most is not the families of our resident pets, but rather the members of the community who heeded the call for help. On our first day here, we put out a request through the local media for donations of cleaning products and pet supplies. Most of the surrounding stores were closed due to flooding, and many of the roads are impassable, making the delivery of outside supplies nearly impossible. We expected a community response, but nothing quite prepared us for the one we got.
The very next day a caravan of cars began pulling up to the emergency shelter. People began unloading trunks full of supplies and offering their time to wash bowls or clean cages. Some people quietly strode up to our donation pile and set down a single roll of paper towels. Others dropped off blankets and towels. We were simply overwhelmed by the outpouring of generosity. These people had just lost their homes, their town was nearly destroyed, yet here they were—united.
One story that particularly stood out was of a 14-year-old girl. Despite her family’s home being uninhabitable, she found the time to go around the community to raise donations—and proudly handed us the $50 she’d collected.
This deployment is truly a shining example of people reaching out to one another in a time of need. Binghamton residents may live in a small town, but you’d be hard-pressed to find people with bigger hearts than theirs.
We shudder to think about it. But according to the National Fire Protection Association, each year more than 1,000 house fires are accidentally started by pets. As part of National Preparedness Month, we suggest you take a minute to pet proof your home against potential fire hazards—it could mean the difference between life and death for your four-legged friends.
Secure wires and cords. Cats are especially interested in playing with anything that looks like string. Keep electrical wires and power cords secured and out of your pet’s reach.
Blow it out. Don't leave lit candles unattended. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock the candles over. Be sure to use appropriate candle holders placed on a stable surface. Want to be really safe? Consider using only flameless candles.
Cover it up. Pets are naturally curious and will investigate almost anything that has a scent. This includes your oven. Be sure to remove stove knobs or protect them with covers before leaving the house. Believe it or not, exploring stove tops is the number one way your pet can accidently start a fire.
Go crazy with the detectors. There is no such thing as too many smoke detectors. In fact, you should have at least one on each floor of your home. Out a lot? Consider using monitored smoke detectors. These systems send an immediate alert to a call center letting them know smoke has been detected.
Stick ‘em up. In the event of an emergency, our pet rescue sticker alerts rescue personnel that animals are inside your home. Write down the number of pets inside and attach the sticker to a front window or door.
This Sunday, millions of people from around the world will unite in commemorating the anniversary of 9/11. In tribute, the ASPCA would also like to honor the working dogs who risked their own lives to help on that tragic day.
“In the wake of the attacks, more than 100 search and rescue dogs along with their handlers, bravely searched the debris of Ground Zero,” says ASPCA President & CEO Ed Sayres. “Their courage led to the recovery of countless survivors.”
A new portrait series and book, Retrieved by Charlotte Dumas, honors 15 of the canine heroes. Covering more than a dozen states, Dumas photographed the retired rescue dogs as they spend their golden years in their preferred places—home.
As soon as we heard that 32 horses were living without adequate food or shelter due to Tropical Storm Irene, our team stepped in to help. The ASPCA, in conjunction with the Humane Society of the United States, just gave $5,000 in financial support to Rivers Edge Horse Rescue and Sanctuary in Newton, New Jersey.
In the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene, residual flooding of nearby marshes and streams of the Delaware River severely impacted the East Coast equine sanctuary. The barn and adjoining paddocks were left unusable, with much of the fencing washed away. The horses, who had to be moved through three feet of water to get to higher ground, were left without proper shelter.
“I would like to thank so many people for their help during this difficult time, especially HSUS and the ASPCA, for the financial assistance they have provided for our horses,” says Diane Romano-Potacki, founder of Rivers Edge Horse Rescue and Sanctuary.
For more information on keeping yourself and your pets safe in the event of an emergency, please read our list of Disaster Readiness tips.
With kids across the country going back to school this month, you may see a few (not-so-welcome) behavior changes in your pets. But, really, who can blame them? They miss you. With the house back to being empty all day, our companions are forced to find new ways to entertain themselves—like excessive barking or meowing, chewing on shoes, raiding the garbage and scratching furniture. What to do? These top treats will help lessen their anxiety and occupy their time till the kids get home!