Melissa J. Nixon, DVM
A large percentage of our evacuees will be dogs. Tonight we have several demonstrations:
Use of the capture pole
Muzzling a dog
Scanning for a microchip
Body language - yours and the dog's
Getting a dog into and out of a kennel
Safely tethering a dog
Coaxing a dog out of hiding
Decontamination of a dog
Signs of illness in a dog:
Discharge from eyes
Loss of appetite
Distended belly (THIS CAN BE AN EMERGENCY)
Lameness, unwillingness to move
Excessive water drinking
Never tie a dog with something it can chew through - rope, leather, or cloth leash.
Never walk a dog off leash.
Report all dog bites to the human first aid station. The dog will need to be quarantined or tested for rabies.
Some dogs from the same family are happier housed together, some are not. Keep a close eye on dogs put in the same housing unit together and report any fighting.
We learned some difficult lessons with Hurricane Katrina. Dogs and cats are the two species most likely to be sent out of the disaster area for fostering and eventual adoption. Disease spread is a significant concern in such situations, particularly diseases endemic to the disaster area but not the receiving area. In California, we have heartworms, valley fever, Leptospirosis, and lyme disease. In the four corners area of the southwest, Brucellosis and fungal infections would be of concern; in the hurricane belt, heartworms, Babesiosis, and possibly canine influenza may be of concern. Other infectious diseases may have a wider distribution but would still be of concern in transporting dogs: distemper, parvo, giardiasis, sarcoptic mange, hookworms, and whipworms. Should we ever be in a position where animals need to be transported out of our shelter to another shelter, whether in the state of origin or elsewhere, it is imperative that proper channels be followed and that we do our best not to send out animals carrying infectious disease.
Please remember that our highest goal is to return an animal to its original owner at the end of a disaster incident. Unclaimed animals must go through appropriate fostering prior to adoption. It is a grave temptation to take that adorable pooch home with you. Do not even think about it folks! Any one caught trying to sneak an animal out of the shelter will not only be surrendering their ID card, they may be facing legal charges.