Update (5/22/13): How to Help Moore, Oklahoma

World Vets is collecting donations that will go directly to pets affected by the Moore, Oklahoma tornado.

FreeKibble is donating 100% of kibble raised TODAY ONLY to animal relief in Moore, Oklahoma. All you have to do is answer the trivia question at www.freekibblekat.com

Visit Vetstreet to see how you can help out in other ways such as supply donations and tracking lost and found pets.

Luna and I spent last Thursday through Saturday at BlogPaws 2013 in Tysons Corner, Virginia. Our brains are still full of all the great information we learned and we are just starting to get our energy level back up. We had tons of fun and have a lot of tips and stories to share, but in light of the recent events in Moore, Oklahoma, I am delaying our BlogPaws posts a bit.

Luna and I send our thoughts and best wishes to the people and animals affected by the tragedy and destruction of the tornado in Moore, Oklahoma. I cannot even fathom the emotions or thoughts that one goes through after a natural disaster. I have been so impressed by the amount of support from pet product brands and people around the world. The Central Oklahoma Humane Society is working hard to reunite pets with their best friends. Quaker Pet Group has sent pet carriers and PetSafe has set leashes and collars to help rescue pets found amongst the rubble. Kong is sending treats and toys. Charlotte Reed has been advocating for donations and sharing news via her Twitter feed (@CharlotteReed). The pet community truly is a wonderful thing.

"Watch me" keeps your dog's attention on you during natural disasters.

“Watch me” keeps your dog’s attention on you during natural disasters.

If you are interested in following the activities of the Central Oklahoma Humane Society, you can follow them on Twitter at @okhumane. If you or someone you know is looking for a lost furry friend, visit okclostpets.com. There you can post or view lost and found pets.

In this week’s Beagle Training post, I thought instead of talking about WHAT we have been training, it would be more appropriate to talk about WHY Luna and I are in obedience training. Of course I would love to eat a sandwich without her trying to take a bite, but I am really doing it for her safety.

Training could keep your dog from harm and even save a life.
“Leave it” keeps your dog from eating something poisonous or even deadly.
“Stay” keeps your dog calm and close to you during a disaster or dangerous event.
Recall brings your dog back to safety and away from a danger such as a car or bigger animal.
“Heel” keeps your dog close to you when you have to move through a dangerous location.
“Watch me” keeps your dog’s attention on you, which is important during times of crisis.

A poorly trained dog may panic and flee, not understanding that you are his or her protector and will get him or her to safety.

If you have not yet seen it, watch this video about a women who finds her dog under rubble during a television interview.

This video is heartwarming and a tearjerker, but it also highlights how having a well trained dog could save a life. In the interview prior to finding her beloved friend, Barbara Garcia describes how she was able to keep her dog close and safe with her. Unfortunately, sometimes disaster will force you and your dog apart like this tornado did, but recall was able to bring the two together again. The overwhelmed pup also demonstrates excellent “heeling” while walking with her mom and rescuers, which ensures he will not end up back in another dangerous situation.

"Stay" keeps your dog calm and close to you during a disaster or dangerous event.

“Stay” keeps your dog calm and close to you during a disaster or dangerous event.

While dog training is a huge part of keeping yourself and your dogs safe, being prepared is also very important. In the video, Garcia also talks about how she always had a plan to go into the bathroom in the event of a tornado. Although the tornado did eventually lift her from her home and separate her and her dog, this plan may have saved both of their lives.

You never know when a natural or other disaster may strike, but you can be aware of what possible disaster vulnerabilities your hometown has. This is equally important when you are traveling to a new place.

While tornadoes are possible anywhere in the United States, they are most common in the Midwest. Here in Northern Virginia, we are more susceptible to hurricanes, but not as much as Florida.

For any of our friends in Virginia, I recently found out about the Virginia’s Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday, which runs from May 25-31. Next weekend, certain hurricane preparation items will be exempt from Virginia’s 5% tax including generators under $1000. Your state may have a similar tax holiday!

"Leave it" could keep your dog from eating something poisonous or even deadly.

“Leave it” could keep your dog from eating something poisonous or even deadly.

Whether you are in Virginia or not, there are still many ways to be prepared.
Just like Garcia, have a game plan. Stay away from glass and things that may easily fall and cause harm.
Keep your dog tagged and micro chipped. Make sure the microchip is registered too. Just in case you do get separated, this will make it easier to find your way back to each other. Luna has a regular tag and a QR code tag and is micro chipped.
Put together a disaster kit. This may be more helpful for less sudden disasters, but it is still good to have. Pack it with any medications and medical records, a first aid kit (for you and your dog), five days worth of food and water, waste bags, leashes, harnesses, carriers, and toys to relieve stress.
Keep an updated description and photo of your pets. This will help if you get separated. Also, keep a list of all pets living in your house. Many organizations like the ASPCA provide window clings or stickers for this information.
Take your dog with you if you evacuate. He or she is family too.
Be aware of nearby pet friendly hotels. In case something happens to your home, know where you can quickly turn for shelter.
Avoid dangers after the disaster. These may include broken glass and down power lines. Be aware of your surroundings.

For more detailed tips on disaster preparedness, visit the Humane Society of the US or the ASPCA.

Jessica Shipman
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