Keeping Pets Safe in the Home and Yard

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Pets are part of our families so we should be sure they stay safe whether in the home or yard!

Bathrooms and Laundry Rooms – Toilet bowls are filled with water and often tempt pets to drink from them. This can cause a pet to drown, or it may poison them if toilet bowl cleaners are inside. Medications, both prescription and otherwise, are often kept in a bathroom, as are things such as bathroom cleaners, chemical drain openers, and deodorizers. Sharp items such as razors are also kept in bathrooms and can cut and seriously injure a pet that plays with or swallows them.

Laundry Room – Laundry rooms are also a place where chemicals such as bleach and detergent are stored and regularly used. Fabric softener sheets may seem harmless; however, they are filled with chemicals. Open dryers are tempting to pets that may climb inside to sleep, stay warm, or hide. This can be dangerous if the door is accidentally shut and the machine turned on.

Living Rooms – Unstable or top-heavy furniture can fall if jumped on or if bumped hard by a playful animal. Many types of potted house plants are known to be toxic if chewed or swallowed. The cords to drapery and window blinds are a choking hazard if they accidental loop around a pet’s neck, while electrical cords, if chewed on, can shock or electrocute a pet or start a fire.

Kitchens – Kitchens are an overall dangerous place for pets to be. Jumping pets have access to countertops and tables, while all animals can easily get to anything that’s within their reach, such as kitchen trash cans or food on the table. When it comes to threats, food is the most obvious culprit, as certain items, such as chocolate and raisins, are toxic while others represent a choking hazard.

Bedrooms – Although the bedroom may seem like an overall safe place for pets, it is the unexpected, little things that can prove problematic for pets. Electrical cords are dangerous to pets that are chewers, and small items such as earrings and hair pins may also be chewed or swallowed. Discarded shopping bags are a suffocation risk if a pet sticks its head inside and is unable to shake it off. Moth balls in closets or drawers are toxic, as are certain house plants that may be kept in the room.

Garages and Basements – Because these are areas outside of the main house and protected from the elements outdoors, they are places where deadly chemicals and other potentially lethal items are stored.

Toxic items that are commonly stored in garages and even basements include antifreeze, which is sweet-tasting but can cause a cat or a dog’s kidneys to fail if consumed. Motor oil, gas, battery acid, and car wax are just a few other dangerous car-related items. Additionally, pesticides, rat poison, paint, and paint thinners are examples of items kept in either location that can be lethal to a pet.

Yard – Certain items that are used on the lawn, flowers, and plants, such as fertilizers, pesticides, mulch, and compost, may contain chemicals or elements that a pet should not eat, drink, or lick. Cocoa mulch, for example, is toxic, yet the smell is tempting to animals, and compost may contain food items that pets can choke on or that is toxic to them. Care must be taken to also protect pets in yards with fire pits or outdoor fireplaces, pools, and ponds. Installing a fence also keeps pets safe from traffic or other animals.

SAVING PEOPLE BY SAVING PETS

(Anacortes, WA, Nov 1, 2010) –  The Islands Red Cross and Coldwell Banker Island Living announced a joint venture to save pets when disaster strikes.

When Katrina hit the gulf coast in 2005 evacuation shelters did not have a plan in place to take care of family pets.  Rescuers had to tell people in order to go to a shelter, they needed to leave their pets behind to fend for themselves. As a result hundreds of people opted to stay with their pets.  Approximately 1835 people died during Katrina, it is estimated that one third of those, over 600 people, chose to stay behind with their pets rather than go to a shelter without them.  It is believed that those people would have survived had there been a shelter plan in place to accept pets. 

The residents of Fidalgo Island, Whidbey Island and the San Juan Islands will not be faced with that decision if there is a disaster. In October 2006, the federal PETS Act was signed into law, authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide for individuals and their household pets and service animals in a major disaster; however no funding was earmarked for the project.

The Islands Chapter of the American Red Cross now has resources to provide shelter for pets if a disaster were to occur, so that people would readily go to a safe Red Cross Shelter.

Brain Geer, Executive Director of the Islands Chapter of the American Red Cross, and Jean Groesbeck owner of Coldwell Banker Island Living and avid animal lover, have been working on what was first termed the “PET” (Pet Emergency Team) project for 2+ years.  The effort culminated this week with the unveiling of the Island Chapter Pet Disaster Shelter Van. 

The van was donated by John and Terri Rains (The Rains Clan). It ran great but needed some work to be Red Cross Ready, so Coldwell Banker Island Living sponsored the needed work which also included having the van painted.  However, the project goes beyond a van.

“The ‘PET’ project will allow us to do a better job of meeting a widespread disaster.” said Brian Geer.  “If it is necessary to evacuate people to shelters, we will not have to turn someone away because they have their pet.  The Red Cross will provide shelter for people and the PET volunteers will shelter domesticated animals. ”

The goal of the project is to ensure that when disaster strikes people don’t have to choose between leaving their pets or staying in harm’s way. Pets will be sheltered in a separate location adjacent to the Red Cross shelter location and the pet shelter will be managed by volunteers. Jean Groesbeck became passionate about this project after seeing a news story on Katrina where a man would not leave his house because the rescuers could not take his dog.  It is believed this man died.

“Half of 3,185 adults surveyed nationwide in 2005 shortly after Katrina said that they would refuse to evacuate ahead of a disaster if they could not bring their pets”, according to a Zogby International Poll Groesbeck stated.  “The percentage is probably much higher in our area, highlighting the need for this project.  There were also over a half a million pets that either died or were never reunited with their families because of Katrina.  It added so much additional heartbreak to the crises”. 

Marie Padovan of the City of Anacortes Police Department will also assist in response planning as well as County Disaster Response personnel.

Chris Terrell and Vicki Armstrong (Sunnyhill Kennels), Amy Terhune, and other volunteers have worked hard raising money and acquiring the needed supplies for the van which include crates, leashes, bowls, and vet supplies.  They have established the Charlie Randall PET fund” in memory of Charlie Randall, an Anacortes resident who was instrumental in establishing the Anacortes dog park and helping with Bark in the Park Festival. “Since our dog park is nearly complete, we were looking for something to do in Charlie’s name to help our local dogs (and other critters). When we learned that Jean & Brian were working on this PET Project, it seemed the perfect place to put our energies in Charlie’s memory,” said Terhune. The funds from their annual Santa Paws photo with Santa will go towards this project. Acquisition of the PET van will enable the project to move forward in a huge way.

Volunteers are needed to help with ongoing fund raising efforts, to assist with response drills and to be “on call” to donate their time in case of a disaster.

The PET Project is a collaborative effort of the Red Cross & The Charlie Randall PET Fund. The goal of the project is is to ensure that when disaster strikes people don’t have to choose between leaving their pet or staying in harm’s way to protect your pet.  If you would like to become involved with the pet shelter project contact Brian Geer at 360-293-2911, Jean Groesbeck at 293-4511 or Amy Terhune 708-9324.  If you have items you would like to donate please call Chris Terrell at 588-8225.  If you would like to donate funds to this project visit www.charlierandallfund.org

Your local American Red Cross and the local projects it supports do not receive funding from the federal government, but are 100% funded by the generous donations you provide.  Red Cross services are free to victims of disaster.  For more information on how you can help the Islands Chapter of the American Red Cross call 360-293-2911 or go to www.theislandsredcross.org.