by Karen Sable, Guest Columnist
September is “National Preparedness Month,” which was started in 2004 by FEMA and the Dept. of Homeland Security to encourage Americans to prepare for and respond to emergencies. With that in mind, this is a timely opportunity to ask yourself if you have a good Emergency/Disaster Plan for your family which includes any pets you may have.
If you had to quickly evacuate your home, and possibly be unable to return for an extended period, do you have a “Go Kit” stocked and ready for you and your pets that would enable you to be self-sufficient for at least 5-7 days? Do you know where you could/would go with your pets ? If you lost all power and were unable to leave your home for some time (remember “Snowmageddon” ), would you and your pets have enough food, water, medications, and other supplies to be able to wait out the emergency? If you were not at home when an emergency occurred, or were unable to get home for some reason, have you made arrangements with someone who would be able to get to and care for your pets? These are all questions you need to answer before an emergency or disaster happens!
When you hear the word disaster or emergency, you may immediately think about the kind of natural disasters you see on TV, like tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, and major flooding. But emergencies that may require evacuation, that may prevent you from getting home, or that may strand you inside your home, aren’t just limited to big natural disasters. Think about what you and your pets would do if:
- A construction crew digging in the area ruptures a large gas line, or a train carrying a toxic substance derails on nearby tracks, and your neighborhood must immediately be evacuated;
- There’s an explosion in a nearby gas well, factory, or power plant and the Fire Dept. comes knocking at your door and orders you to leave;
- A sudden storm hits while you are at work, flooding and closing roads, and making it impossible for you to get home to let your dog out, feed the cats, or give them needed medication;
- A major snow/ice storm hits, knocking out power, and making the roads impassible. It may be days before power is restored or you can leave your home.
Make your plan ahead of time
If you had to evacuate with your pets, shelter at home for some period, or provide for your pet’s safety and care in your absence, do you have a plan in place?
The following recommendations and guidelines are intended to help pet parents prepare for an emergency or disaster so that if/when one occurs, you can greatly increase your pet’s chances of survival:
Arrange with a trusted neighbor, nearby friend, or family member to be responsible for your pet in case you are not home, or are not able to get home. Make sure they have the key to your house and are familiar with and comfortable with your pets. If evacuation is necessary, ensure that they are willing to take your pets, know the location of your pet carriers, crates, leashes, etc., as well as your pet emergency “go-kit.” Pre-arrange how/where you would meet, and exchange emergency contact information, including places where your pets would be welcome and could be temporarily sheltered .
Since evacuation shelters for people generally do not accept pets (except for service animals), you must plan ahead to make sure you know where your pets would have a safe place to stay once evacuated. While state and local governments are required to include companion animals in their emergency plans, that does not mean that any shelter provided for pets will be with or even near the human shelters. Could a friend or family member a safe distance away take in you and your pets? Research, locate, and make a list of any pet friendly hotels where you and your pets could go. In an emergency, some hotels which do not normally allow pets will waive their “no pets” policy, but you need to find that out ahead of time. Include on your list any boarding facilities, kennels, animal shelters, or veterinary offices/hospitals which could provide temporary shelter for your pets.
Make sure that your pet is wearing up-to-date identification information at all times. This includes listing not just your home phone number on their tag, but also your cell phone number, or even the number of a friend or relative outside of your area. If your pet were to become lost, you want to make sure that the contact number on their tag will be answered even if you are not at home.
Meet a couple more of the rescued kitties I’ve met in the past few weeks, these two from a house that reminded me of my own through the years!
Irina, above, and Isis, at left, had a period of homelessness in 2004 when Hurricane Ivan hit Western Pennsylvania causing catastrophic flooding in communities that hadn’t seen any in decades. Many animals were lost or displaced as the floodwaters rose in a matter of hours during the afternoon when people were away at work. In the aftermath many homes were uninhabitable and people needed to find other accommodations, either long-term temporarily or permanently, and many pets were surrendered to shelters when living arrangements didn’t allow a pet.
Here is the course of events. Irina and Isis were surrendered by their person to the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society when a private assistance organization secured long-term housing for her while her home was rebuilt, but didn’t take into account her cats. FosterCat, an organization you’ve read about on this blog, took as many cats as they could find foster homes for after the flood, and placed Irina and Isis with their current mom, who was fostering for FosterCat at the time.
She had heard their story and decided they’d been through enough disruption for one lifetime and decided to keep them. This is otherwise known as a “foster failure”, but it’s not a bad test to fail since a kitty gets a home; she also kind of decided she wasn’t any good at fostering.
Lucky for Irina, named for Irina Vorobieva, Olympic Russian figure skater, and Isis, the goddess, of course, they made their way to this mom! The reason I’ve posted photos that aren’t so focused on the cat is that I wanted to show the environment—a really nice house, full of decorative things, and lots of happy spots left for the cats, Irina in her cabinet, the door always open for her, and Isis in the cubby by the front door where she quietly watches the house.
Irina is a little frightened of her doggy brothers, two harmless little Pomeranians, so she stays in the kitchen, but according to Isis’ mom she’s a bigger cat and somehow intimidating, so the dogs don’t mess with her. Could be that tri-color gene.
More rescued kitties to come from this house.
The Japanese people are legendarily fond of cats, have been through history. In every stage of art in their culture you’ll find felines of all stripes and spots and solids depicted in paintings happily ensconced in homes, walking about the estate, in sculptures curled in sleep and famously with one paw lifted welcoming you to the garden. More than a few of these kitties are calico or tortoiseshell as “red” is a favorite and highly symbolic color.
And, often, in the background of the painting you’ll see the ocean, as it is in the background of their lives every day. Obviously, being a chain of islands, the ocean, what it gives and what it takes, is a constant presence in the lives of the Japanese, and with it the cultural knowledge of the ocean’s destructive power. (See a little more art like that at left here).
We witnessed that power on March 11 as an earthquake shook the land at Sendai, creating a tsunami that slammed into the eastern coastline. Remembering from the 2004 tsunami and the Haiti and Chile earthquakes as well as other natural disasters, we won’t know the full toll for days or weeks.
In Japan, wherever there are people, there are cats, beloved pets, and where pets are not allowed there are Cat Cafes where cats live to be visited by customers who drink tea and pet kitties. And tragically the earthquake’s epicenter was about 60 miles from Cat Island, a haven for the elderly and for many stray cats who are fed and cherished by all residents. To date we’ve heard that Cat Island had a good bit of damage and supplies are needed, but the island also has a good bit of high ground so hopefully people and cats could escape the tsunami.
My Tortie Girls Go to Japan
Through one of my wholesale customers, many of my Tortie Cats t-shirts have shipped off to customers in Japan. Considering their love of cats, this is not surprising.
Also considering the tradition of block printing, or relief printing with wood, in Japan, especially hand-colored prints, this seems like a natural combination. After all, where do you think I first saw this technique, and years later decided to render my girls’ portraits in this medium?
Donate to Animal Refuge Kansai for the Animals of Japan
I will donate half of the selling price to Animal Refuge Kansai from sales of my t-shirts and framed block prints sold in a set or individually. I have limited stock, in part because I always wait for warmer weather to print these shirts and prints:
- tees in each design in sizes S-M-L-XL-2X of white men’s Hanes Beefy Tees (se Etsy for availability)
- two framed prints of The Goddess
- one framed print of The Roundest Eyes
- I will sell two together as a set
Read below more about block printing and about these prints, and visit my Etsy shop to purchase. Also visit The Conscious Cat to find other opportunities to donate and help all animals in Japan after this devastating disaster.
Inspired by my felines
I am unendingly inspired by my houseful of felines, especially those two tortoiseshell calicos. I print these by hand from a hand-cut linoleum block, then each individually is hand-painted in watercolor.
Well, everyone knows a fat cat who knows she’s beautiful, and Cookie would tell you that a woman with a round shape was once most desirable and an object of worship. That’s why I call her “The Goddess”.
“The Roundest Eyes”
Sometimes when I look at Kelly the only feature I can distinguish in all those tortie markings is her extremely round eyes.
Each image is 8″ x 12″, with mat and frame outside dimensions 14″ x 18″, horizontal or vertical as shown in the photo.
About Block Printing
I really enjoy working in this medium and I can free myself from the traditional media and a greater realism in rendering. Linoleum block printing is a technique wherein the artist carves the surface of a piece of artist’s linoleum, leaving raised areas which will become the image. Ink is rolled onto these raised areas, then a piece of paper is pressed against the block and when it’s lifted away the ink remains, leaving the image on the paper.
The resulting work isn’t a one-time thing, but meant to be printed multiple times–and I do, on just about anything I can think of. They all start out on paper, but they’ve been printed on t-shirts and dresses and aprons and curtains, to name a few things. I will sometimes add color to them with watercolor or dyes to give them extra interest. The resulting work, even though they are all printed from the same block, is a unique print, still handmade by the artist.
Because of the nature of the medium, each print is unique and ink coverage is not always perfect. Most artists consider this random activity to be part of the process of creating an individualized print, and along with the hand-painting makes a unique work of art.
I’ve added some updates in blockquote format throughout this story.
It’s as bad as the tsunami, not in numbers* but in trauma to a country that was already suffering from poverty and distress. They don’t need “things” right now, they really need money for food, water, clothing and other necessities that can be purchased locally. Later, when people are rebuilding and monetary donations have slowed, we can send food, clothing and furniture. You don’t have to give much; if everyone gave even only $5.00 it would make a huge difference to the charities that are on the ground and the ones preparing to leave.
*Initially, the numbers were in the tens of thousands, but as bodies are found under the rubble and people continue to perish from the aftereffects, the number has risen over 200,000. The estimate of loss from the tsunami ranged from 230,000 to 275,000 because some individuals were never found.
In every disaster the Search and Rescue dogs are integral, as brave and hard-working as the humans in the search and very often lifesavers because they can sense a living being below the rubble that a human would never know about; unfortunately, they can also find corpses, but this, too, has its place in a mission like the aftermath of an earthquake.
And animals in general, livestock, companion animals and wildlife, never had a very easy stay in Haiti, though many organizations were making great strides, especially with pets. Once things are stabilized, many animals will need to be rescued before diseases begin to spread, especially rabies, or former pets become wild with no place for them to go and be tamed.
First, the people
Pittsburgh has some interesting connections to Haiti in charities that are based here—WorldVision, Brother’s Brother Foundation, Hopital Albert Sweitzer are only three that are based in Pittsburgh. Our local reporters composed a few articles describing the local charities as well as the national and international charities with contact information.