Student Assembly: Safety Preparedness

What: Safety & Preparedness

When: Today

Where: Main Auditorium

Guest Presenter: Jo Becker

National Preparedness Month, observed in September since 2004, is a time when the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and local responders encourage everyone to take steps to prepare for disaster — at home, school, work, and in their communities.

How to prepare for the unexpected, be it a house fire, a pet in seizure, or nearby wildfire — or more regional events like an earthquake?

Among my favorite tips is to think through your plan and number your supplies. Here’s how it works: 

When immediate evacuation is required (think house fire — the most common disaster, with one reported every 86 seconds), then get low and get out. Because many house fires happen at night, chances are the exit will be out the bedroom window. Me? I want more options. I want every avenue available for my pets to exit with me.

If disaster is imminent but there’s time to exit via the front door, grab wallet, keys, family and animals, and go. I keep collapsible crates in the trunk that can be assembled for the pets’ safety and comfort once we reach a secure area.

When there is forewarning (say slow-rising flood waters or wildfire in the general vicinity), I’d grab my lovebugs and secure them in carriers, grab wallet and keys, and take them to the car. Then I’d go back in, and from the closet by the door grab Bag #1, which has a minimum of food and water for all of us, to supplement emergency supplies I carry in my trunk. It also has a copy of emergency contact information and places we might evacuate to (another copy is always in the car), as well as maps, lights, gloves, hats, copies of important documents, a little cash and a recent backup of computer files. If there’s time for a second trip in, I’ll grab Bags #2, and so on.

Once done with the numbered supplies in the front closet, if time still remained, I’d turn refer to instructions posted inside the closet door. It lists coolers in the shed that can be loaded with food from the refrigerator or freezer and stowed in the vehicle, further extending emergency rations. The list also includes personal comfort items (jammies), family heirlooms, and things like my laptop or tower in the event there’s time and space in the getaway vehicle.

This preparedness plan allows one to act without much thought, regardless of what’s happening.

If all of this seems scary and overwhelming, here’s a golden nugget I find infinitely hopeful and reassuring. Even if you had no money for supplies (or they exist but you can’t get to them for some reason) know that just thinking ahead about possible ‘what ifs’ and how you’d handle them can significantly increase the odds that you and all of your family members will not only survive, but go on to thrive following an incident.

This September, accept the preparedness challenge. Take steps to prepare your home, family and animals should the unexpected or unthinkable occur.

A pet mom and surrogate livestock handler for neighbors, Jo Becker is passionate about disaster planning for the entire family. Learn more about Jo at

The Dodo Asks DoveLewis: How Do You Handle Bee Stings?

Bee stings can cause cats and dogs swelling, hives, and difficulty breathing — and the onset can be fast. Do you know what to do? The Dodo reached out to DoveLewis Critical Care Specialist Dr. Erika Loftin to find out.

"It is possible for a pet to go into anaphylactic shock resulting from a bee sting, so it's important to get them treated as soon as possible," Dr. Loftin told The Dodo.

Though cats and dogs share reactions to bee stings similar to those of humans, it's extremely important to consult your veterinarian before treating them with any type of medicine, especially medicines intended for humans. Learn more at

Wallet cards alert responders if pets are home alone

Have you ever considered what would happen if you became injured away from home? How would rescue workers or hospital staff know you have pets alone at home? How would they notify a friend or family member to care for them? Even if they did notify family, have you designated a specific person to care for your pets if you were to become incapacitated?

These questions are posed by iheartdogs, which offers wallet cards signaling pets are home alone in the event a pet parent is injured or ill away from home. Purchasing the cards (two for $7.99) is good for owned pets, and also supports animal shelters by providing nutritious food for dogs awaiting forever homes. Learn more at

Got an emergency plan?

Local animal trainer and pet preparedness pro Jo Becker will lead attendees at the NW Pet Fair through a game of Animals-In-Jeopardy, an interactive version of the Jeopardy game designed to help pet parents learn preparedness for animals big and small. The game offers something for everyone – from novices to those who’ve been stocked up and prepared since Y2K.   

A veteran public speaker, Becker combines familiarity with emergency preparedness, disaster management, and technical animal rescue. Her presentations offer and a unique, upbeat perspective about preparing for the unexpected. As a dedicated pet mom and surrogate livestock handler, Becker is passionate about disaster planning for everyone in the family. Learn more at

Flood Warnings: Preparedness for Pets and People

December 8, 2015 - Portland, OR - Monday set new rainfall records throughout parts of Oregon and Washington, and more stormy weather is expected throughout the week, according to the National Weather Service. Counties throughout northwest Oregon and southwest Washington are under flood advisories. The Oregon Humane Society is on standby to help people and pets in need, and provides the following tips to help prepare for the whole family-including pets.

Assemble a pet survival kit and be prepared to evacuate with your pets:
During an evacuation, you'll need a sturdy harness and leash for each dog and a carrier for each cat. In choosing a cat carrier, choose one that is large enough to serve as a temporary apartment for your cat.

Pre-pack your pet's kit:
Prepare your pet's kit in a backpack for ease in transportation and include supplies for at least one week.

Things to pack:

Dry food
Drinking water
Manual can opener for any canned food
Clumping cat litter + small litter box, litter scoop
Plastic bags for waste disposal
Serving dishes
Bedding, favorite toys (if room)

Pet first aid and health records:
A pet first aid kit is essential. Include any medications and medical records (stored in a waterproof container). Include information on feeding
schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to foster or board your pets.

Tag, microchip, and photograph your pets! Current pet identification is the single most important thing you can do to help ensure that you will be reunited with a lost pet. Make certain your pet (even an indoors-only cat) is wearing a collar with visible identification tags with your phone number.

TIP: if your mobile phone has a camera, take and store photos of your pets on your mobile phone.

Get to know your neighbors:
Your neighbors may be home when a disaster hits and may be your best resource for evacuating your pets if you are away and unable to reach your home.

Have an alternative-shelter plan for your pets:
If you must evacuate your home, do not leave your pets behind. Typically, only service animals are permitted inside emergency relief centers for people. Therefore, you will need to have a separate shelter plan for your pets.

Check with friends and family who live outside your immediate area to see if they would be willing to help shelter your pets.

Contact hotels and motels outside your local area to check their policies on accepting pets and restrictions on number, size and species. Ask if "no pet" policies can be waived in an emergency. Keep a list of pet-friendly places, including phone numbers, with your disaster supplies.

Make a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians who could shelter animals in an emergency-be sure to include 24-hour phone numbers.

Be prepared to shelter pets in need:
Giving temporary shelter to misplaced pets during a disaster saves lives. If you do take in a lost dog or cat, make sure to let rescue organizations know so that the animal can be reunited with its family once the immediate danger has passed.

Help emergency workers help your pets:
Place a "pets inside" rescue sign or sticker on your front window or door to let emergency responders know that pets are inside your home. Make sure the sticker is visible to rescue workers, and that it includes the types and number of pets in your household and your veterinarian's phone number.

If you evacuate with your pets, (if time allows) write "EVACUATED" across the stickers so rescue workers don't delay by looking for pets who have already been evacuated.

More resources available online:

.         Emergency preparedness and rescue information from OHS -

.         Flood preparedness tips from

.         Severe weather alerts:

.         Latest news and preparedness tips from Portland Emergency

#   #  #

The Oregon Humane Society is the Northwest's oldest and largest humane society, with one of the highest adoption rates in the nation. OHS receives no government funds for its adoption, education and animal cruelty investigation programs. Visit<> for more information.

Return of the Zombie Flesh Eaters


Anticipation is in the air as humans await the return of their favorite mindless creatures thirsty for blood or hungry for flesh.  In television series, video games, movies, comic books (excuse me — graphic novels) — our psyches cannot get enough of the culture of the undead, be it vampires, mummies, monsters, or especially, “the zombie.”  We delight in the gorefest of a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by the walking undead who relentlessly seek out human tissue upon which to feed. 

As for me and my colleagues, this season does provide thrills and chills, but it is not the drooling, ambling, vacant-eyed, two-legged marauders who give us the willies.  From the month leading up to All Hallows Eve until New Year’s Day, our concern is for the seemingly simple-minded, four-legged scavengers slinking beneath our notice.  

Their tail wagging and purring lull us into forgetting that they are the stealthy — and fully aware — creatures in the crowd, patiently waiting for a chance to remove the choicest morsels of meat from the table when their human’s attention is elsewhere. 

Over these next few months, pet owners can become easily distracted by the delightfully gruesome makeup and costumes of Halloween revelers, by the sheer number of long-lost relatives giving thanks around a table, or perhaps by the pretty lights and mind-altering beverages during rounds of Christmas parties.  These festive occasions are the perfect time for our furry friends to snitch a bit of a ham shank, to nudge the remnants of roast from the stove onto a welcoming floor, or to “carcass diem” the entire turkey skeleton while humans lay bloated and unbuckled in front of a football game.  Whether these treats of meat and muscle make their way to our pets by thievery or by guilt (“ahhh, does Snookums want some of Auntie Patty’s pork roast like everyone else?”), a few moments of tastiness can give way to hours or even days of pain and regret.


Eating fatty leftovers such as ham, roast beef, turkey, or gravy can at the very least give pets stomach and intestinal upset (vomiting and diarrhea).  If the pancreas becomes overwhelmed — by arrival of unexpected fatty meal of turkey skin, meat trimmings or table scraps — it releases digestive enzymes into its “neighborhood” of tissues and organs.  If there is extensive inflammation and swelling of the pancreas and surrounding tissue (pancreatitis ranges mild to severe), abdominal pain, vomiting, dehydration and even shock can occur.  Acute severe pancreatitis often requires intensive care hospitalization and in some cases can be fatal. 

 High fat foods also have the potential to delay the emptying of a dog’s stomach, making him/her prone to bloating.  When a stomach bloats and twists on itself — a condition feared by many large breed dog owners — a simple “gassy” episode can become a surgical emergency.   

Beyond the arsenal of tempting juicy drippings and luscious marbled fat, slabs of meat also can contain bones; some large with the potential for lodging in the bowel, and some sharp like knives (think what a snapped chicken bone looks like and then imagine a pile of them in your stomach — ouch!).  Despite its reputation for being a low-fat meat, the turkey carcass left over from the holiday feast can still pose quite a choking hazard to pets.  If the pet does get the gobbler down their gullet, poultry bones eventually dissolve in the stomach, but large bunches of sharp shards can give dogs bloody diarrhea and painful defecation.  Large or sharp beef and pork bones have been known to cause pain, obstruction of the bowels, and at times, perforation of the intestines.  Potential remedies for bones in the belly can range from simple soothing medications for the stomach to enemas (with sedation) to “loosen” bones stuck in the colon, and at times, surgery to retrieve the nasty painful bone fragments lodged in the bowel.  Because of all the scary potential painful outcomes of pets eating bones, veterinarians believe it is best to keep the bones in the bird or the beast and avoid playing Russian roulette with your pet — or your finances.


I’ve known 2 families who’ve lost dogs after their dogs ate turkey – more from the effects of skin and fat … can you talk about that?

If you want to include your pets in your holiday celebrations — beyond dressing your Schnauzer as Santa’s little helper — and share your “family feast” with them, we recommend not moving fatty meats and goodies directly from the table into the dog or cat bowl.  Instead, choose some of the menu items (such as turkey, rice, vegetables, and broth) and alter the ingredients into a more pet-friendly dish.  Several good recipes can be found on the Internet — just make sure to get the final “okay” from your veterinarian before serving these foods to your furry family members. 

For those with a strong stomach, venture on for a final warning on flesh eating:

Cooked carcasses aside, it is not uncommon in the Portland parks and rural areas to see your canine cutie chewing on something “off in the distance;” a close-up inspection can find your dog gnawing on the partially decomposed body part of an animal.  For those “live and let the carnivore eat” types who might be tempted to turn a blind eye to Rover’s roadkill snacking, there are things “lurking” in that tissue that can harm your furry flesh eater.  Bacteria and toxins in the decaying tissue are the primary culprits for making your pet ill, but there’s yet another that might give you pause:  if that body part had been part of an improperly disposed euthanized animal,  strong drugs such as barbiturates could poison your pet.  “Found body parts” of all types should not be in your pet’s diet; unearthed “goodies” should be wrapped and placed in sealed garbage for pickup.


Advice from those in the Vet ER to holiday revelers?  Go ahead and have a great time — but if you are providing an evening or day-long banquet or food spread, it’s best to keep pets confined to a bedroom or kennel.  Provide a tasty treat and park your pet in front of the television so they can also get a visual vicarious “flesh-eating” thrill.  For the bloodthirsty hound it might be the strewn limbs of the cult “Zombie Fest at Band Camp,” while more prim pooches find delight in the raucous but G-rated devouring of the holiday bird by the neighbors’ dogs in “A Christmas Story.”  Confining household canines (and felines) may not seem to be in the holiday spirit, but remember some of a veterinarian’s favorite holiday ditties:  “better to kennel or crate than later constipate” or  “Leave Fido to frolic and he may later colic.”


Dr. Heidi Houchen is an ER/Critical Care veterinarian at VCA Northwest Veterinary Specialists in Clackamas; she writes and lectures extensively about trauma, blood banking, and toxicology.  She is especially passionate about keeping pets and poisons apart.

Are you really ready?

Are you really ready?

Last week while reading before bedtime, I started to smell smoke.  You know, that dreadful house-on-fire smoke smell.  I didn’t hear any sirens, but it was obvious that somewhere nearby someone’s home was burning.  The next morning I read there were two home fires about a mile from me.  That gave me pause to think about what I would grab with just a few moments to get out.  Where were my cats?  Where was that emergency crate?

Emergency Planning for Pets

We’ve seen the sad fate of many family pets in recent tragedies such as Hurricane Katrina and the Haiti earthquake.  During disasters, many pets become lost, scared and separated from their families.  Animal shelters, when available at all, quickly become overfilled and locating and/or identifying a pet can become a huge concern.  The recent devastation from the Japan earthquake and tsunami served as yet another reminder to consider our own pet emergency preparedness. 

Satellites for Haiti

Now that the USAR FEMA team has worked the Hotel Montana and other locations in Haiti, pulling out numerous survivors (GREAT JOB PEOPLE and dogs) there are families scrambling to find answers for those still missing. 
I've received hundreds of emails and calls asking: Why I’m not over there helping; What can be done? Who do these folks turn to to find their loved ones? 

Disaster Preparedness: Home Safe

Skip panicked scramble in emergency; BE PREPARED

When planning for an emergency our imaginations can get carried away. Sometimes that's a good thing. If Hurricane Katrina taught us one thing it’s that we can never really imagine the horrific realities wrought by natural disasters of such magnitude.

Learning from mistakes made during events like Katrina is important, especially in the Northwest, where an earthquake or tsunami could actually occur. All the more important considering how easy it is to dismiss the possibility of such events, given their rarity. It’s likely that if or when such an event did occur here, our guard would be down.