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December 2014

Emergency And Disaster Planning Part 2

Any given emergency event will have its own set of unique circumstances. One instance may require evacuation while another requires remaining where you are. There are many studies that conclude that people who plan for emergencies fare better than those who do not.


For either scenario:


Pay attention to media reports and follow their instructions. Keep in mind that police and fire department personnel circling your neighborhood may announce a localized event. In addition, there are phone apps that issue live alerts.  The free apps I installed on my phone include:

  1. My local news station.
  2. WeatherBug.
  3. Emergency Radio Free.
  4. Code Red Mobile Alert.

The apps I have paid for include:

  1. Pet Tech Pet CPR, First Aid, and Care because it summarizes pet first aid techniques as well as has a veterinarian locator.
  2. Pet Poison Helpline as it will dial their hotline. As minutes matter in a poisoning, this could save the life of a pet.


Add to the employee/shop manual the following:

  1. Phone number to your local or regional Emergency Management Office.  This office offers many resources including Community Emergency Response Training, information on the State Animal Response Teams, as well as the location of the designated people and/or animal shelters. The shelter locations may change periodically.
  2. Detachable checklist for both evacuations and remaining at your location. Detailed instructions clearly indicating what needs to be done will reduce stress and streamline either process.
  3. Reference materials from, the Red Cross, and Groomer To Groomer magazine.
  4. Four directional driving instructions with pet friendly hotels marked along the way.



Encourage preparedness by reviewing the emergency protocols as outlined in your shop manual, including practice drills on a regular basis. Possible practice drills include; loading pets into crates and vehicles, clearly identifying pets with owner and shop name, and ensuring the evacuation kit is filled and ready to go. The more you practice, the better prepared you and your staff will be.


Suggested continuing education such as Community Emergency Response Training (CERT), as well as local emergency preparedness workshops offered at trade shows and Adult Education programs. CERT is a 20-hour program, paid for by our tax dollars and will prepare you for emergencies. It is usually taught by the Fire Or Emergency Management Office Personnel. I highly recommend this training.


Suggested kit items include:


  1. Pet first aid kit. In January 2014 Groomer To Groomer magazine, there is a detailed article on pet first kit contents.
  2. Client files on any pets that are in your care. It should include waivers, contact information, as well as any pertinent medical conditions.
  3. Bottled water. I prefer Smart Water™ as it replaces lost electrolytes due to stress. I watch for sales and stock up on it.
  4. Dry and packaged food for both pets and people. While it is better to have the pets normal food available as it will reduce gastric upset due to stress, it may not be possible for client pets.
  5. Set of muzzles. As this can be a stressful time for the pet, it may incite poor behavioral issues, as well as bite reflexes.
  6. Fully charged fire extinguisher.
  7. Old blankets for warmth and as a comfort item. Items that have a scent of home or of something familiar can reduce anxiety in a pet.
  8. Water and food dishes.
  9. Cleaning supplies including bleach. 10% bleach is a disinfectant and 16 drops of bleach to a gallon will purify drinking water.
  10. Shampoo to wash off contaminants.
  11. Glow sticks and/or flashlights with spare batteries.
  12. Travel crates to transport pets safely.
  13. Specific kitty supplies such as litter, Frisbees (they can serve as portable litter pans), and shampoos.


Store items in an easily transported container such as a plastic can with wheels. Anything that is normally used in a shop that would have to be added to the kit should be listed on the detachable checklist.


If you are asked to evacuate, please do so. Many people were swept away during Hurricane Sandy because they did not heed the warnings. Take all pets with you, residents were not allowed back to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina for several weeks. If it is not safe for us, it is not safe for them.


  1. Detach evacuation checklist.
  2. Load up vehicle with pets and supplies.
  3. Decide on which driving direction.
  4. Post sign on door informing clients where you are heading and name of hotel or location of designated pet shelter, along with your cell number.
  5. Contact clients with your travel information.
  6. Turn off utilities before you leave and remember NOT to turn them back on without an inspection by the utility company when you return.


You are unable to evacuate or are instructed to remain you now prepare for any grooming clients to become boarding clients. Owners may be unable to reach your shop to pick up their pets.  Contact owners and keep them up to date.


Emergency situations can impact the pets in our care as well. Pets under duress are at risk for stress related injuries including bites, fighting, seizures, heart attacks, and diabetic pets can go into either into hypoglycemia or ketone acidosis.  The better prepared we are means we can address the event in a calm manner. The more relaxed we are, the result will be a less stressed pet.


*This article originally appeared in April Groomer To Groomer and is reprinted with permission.

















Holidays and Pets

It’s already December and the holiday season is in full swing. With it come higher stress levels for us, as well as for our pets.


Causes Of Stress In Pets


  1. Over stressed family members. When we are stressed our bodies release adrenaline and cortisol hormones. A pet’s sense of smell is greater than ours and they are able to perceive these hormones on us. As they look to us as their pack leader, if we are worried, there must be something to worry about.
  2. Change in diet. The holiday season can disrupt their normal diet and feeding schedule. Holiday food is richer, higher in fat, and more available.
  3. Change in routine. You spend more time away from home shopping and visiting.
  4. Extra visitors in your home. Your pet’s senses are in overload. There may be children running around trying to touch them, as well as adults using different or too much perfumes or colognes. Your house may be louder than normal with many tasty temptations everywhere. Visitors may also be other pets traveling with your guests. Like us, not all “relatives” are looked forward to.
  5. Travel. Visiting out of area friends and relatives is disruptive regardless of whether they are boarded or coming with us.


Effects Of Stress On Pets


Studies have shown a similarity between the effects of stress on our bodies and that of pets. When adrenaline and cortisol is released into your pet’s body, the heart and respiratory rate, as well as the aging process speeds up. In addition, it inhibits the immune system, reduces blood flow to the brain, and shuts down the reproductive system. A secondary effect of a suppressed reproductive system is cardiovascular disease.


Indications Of Stress In Pets


-Your pet may suffer from depression, restlessness, exhaustion, and lack of appetite.


-They may exhibit aggressive, destructive, or obsessive compulsive behavior. A stressed pet is more likely to bite.


-This pet may vocalize more.


-Like us, they may experience physical ailments related to the immune, digestive, respiratory, and circulatory systems.


Ways To Relieve Stress In Your Pets


  1. Provide a quiet place for your pet to escape. It can be as simple as allowing them in a bedroom and closing the door. Or cover their crates with a sheet for privacy.
  2. Infuse your dog’s area with lavender essential oil in a diffuser. Do not use essential oils with cats or other pets with respiratory issues or around birds at all. Do not use candles with essential oils, as it may be a fire hazard.
  3. Add soothing music to their environment. My favorites are Chakra Suite by Steven Halpern. It not only reduces stress levels of our pets, it works on us as well!
  4. Give size appropriate toys for mental stimulation.
  5. Keep to their normal diet and feeding schedule.
  6. If traveling, plan well. Let’s Go Fido II is an eBook written by Mary Oquendo. It is filled with many tips for safe and stress-free traveling, including boarding your pets.
  7. Extra exercise. Movements dissipate both adrenaline and cortisol resulting in calmer pets.
  8. Energetic space clearing. Especially during the holidays, our homes become filled with stressful energies. A space clearing removes built up negative energy that accumulates from day to day living and replaces it with fresh, positive energy.
  9. Use protective and grounding stones around your home. Keep them out of reach of chewers. This will benefit the entire household. Any brown, black, red, yellow, or pink stones are a good choice.



Over the holiday season, paying attention to your pet’s stress level while actively countering their effects on their mind and body will result in a much happier holiday for all. In addition, these changes will have an all around positive change in your life throughout the year.

©2014 Mary Oquendo