Friday, September 10, 2010

Protecting our pets when we're not home

Lately there have been so many news reports about humans and pets losing their lives in house fires. The value of structures and personal belongings involved can be calculated and reimbursed through insurance companies, but the people and their animal companions are priceless and irreplaceable.

Fortunately, there are simple ways we can all get proactive about safety and minimize the chance of such a terrible tragedy happening to our family.

We should start by picking up some of those colorful decals to press onto our storm doors and windows that alert emergency responders to the presence of animals inside our home. There are spaces on the decals to list the number of dogs, cats, and other species of animals living in the house. We need to make sure we keep those numbers up to date. If we now only have 3 animals, we don't want firefighters risking their lives searching and searching for animal number 4 who passed on to Rainbow Bridge last year. While most online pet supplies sell these decals, we can get some free at ASPCA or print off one at home from ARF, and buy the materials to make clinging decals from our local office supply store.

A second must-have decal is the "Animal Alert Card." It is also available as a download from ARF. This card will alert emergency or medical workers there are animals relying on us to return and care for their needs and provides a name and number of someone to notify in case we are unable to do so.

Another way to make sure we and our pets stay safe and sound in case of fire or other emergency is to sign up with a monitoring service. For years, my husband and I laughed off the idea of needing a security service since we had multiple dogs and figured their collective bark was deterrent enough. That is until a friend asked us what the plan was for our pets if the house caught fire, or if there was a dog-hating intruder, and we weren't home. We researched several companies, asked lots of questions, and then decided on BroadCom Security (I think they've recently merged with ADT.) For more choices, just do a quick Google search for "home security systems."

I want to encourage everyone reading this to at least get the decals mentioned. I cannot tell you how much more prepared and secure we personally feel since taking the above steps. The bottom line for all pet guardians is to do what we can to protect all the members of our packs.

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