Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Help protect your pets

What a wonderful, heartwarming story in the Feb. 8 edition of the Mountain Express about the reunion of Nancy Landringer and her cat, Khrys, who were separated for over five months by the Castle Rock Fire.

Several of us from the Wood River Valley worked on animal rescue in New Orleans in the Katrina disaster. One thing became very apparent—it is not always easy to reunite animals with their owners. Thousands of people throughout the country spent months rescuing animals from dangerous conditions, and thousands more spent many more months trying to reunite these animals with their rightful owners. Only a small percentage of the animals rescued were reunited as a result of no identifying information.

As we all learned from Castle Rock, one day everything is fine, and the next day your entire community is in survival mode. Here are some tips to insure your pet will find his or her way back to you, even in the face of disaster:

- Always keep ID on your animals, with your pet's name, your name and phone number and address. Update when any of this information changes.

- Annually license your animal with a Blaine County license, available at the animal shelter and all local vet offices. Besides keeping you within the law, it is yet another form of ID that can bring your pet back to you.

- Very important: In addition to the above, microchip your animal. In a disaster, pets often lose their ID tags. The microchip has additional information. Your veterinarian's name and other contact information is retrievable. And the information you give for your pet's microchip is permanently stored in another area of the country. This can be invaluable in a large disaster.

- When you lose a pet, contact the animal shelter and local authorities (sheriff's office, police, etc.) If you lose your animal in a rural area, contact any and all shelters within a 100-mile radius. Don't be afraid to keep checking back.

- Call the local radio stations to report your lost pet.

- Make a flyer with your pet's photo and post it as many places as possible.

- There is a national Web site, This site is for lost and found animals and can be accessed by breed, state, and other identifying criteria.

If you find an animal, take the same above precautions to reunite it with its rightful owner.

Never give up hope. As was apparent with the outpouring of help offered in the Castle Rock Fire, we live in a very caring community, where people look after each other and their pets.

Annie Williams

Blaine County

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