Include your pets

Many people see their pets as a member of their family. I saw a story on the television where a lady loved her dog so much that she had it cloned, at a cost of $50,000. This is not an article on my views of cloning, so I won’t go there. I have known others to leave their inheritance to their pets. As crazy as all of this sounds, I state these things to say that your pets are obviously very important to you. If this be the case, then why not include your pet in your family’s home escape plan. I am going to completely overlook the fact that you probably don’t even have an escape plan for your human family, much less the pets who live there.

We train our pets for everything else; why not train them to respond to a smoke alarm? This may sound nutty, but hear me out. Animals are able to sense danger, many times before a human being can. My dog knew that something was happening, thirty seconds before the earthquake hit in Louisa. Is it worth the effort to attempt to teach your pet that an activating smoke alarm signals danger? This is for the pet that is left at home alone during the day or night. There was recently a house fire in the county that I hunt in where the only victim was the family dog. I understand that most pets left in the home are kept in their crate when no one is there, making escape impossible for these pets.

My next thought is, have you included your pets in your practiced home escape plan? Just as babies, small children and the elderly will need assistance out of your home in the event of a fire, so will your pets. Someone should already be assigned to getting the baby when a fire occurs. Why not assign someone to get your dog, cat, gerbil or python, whatever your pet may be? In the heat of a fire, you will perform like you practice. If there is no practice, humans and pets are in jeopardy of injury or death. With practice, the chance of survival increases exponentially.

You only have one chance to get this right. Once you have exited the building, you must not go back in for any reason. When people are injured or killed in residential fires, it is sometimes found that they either were delayed in attempting to escape, or re-entered the building for a person, pet or possession. Whatever the case, these injuries or deaths could be prevented or minimized by preplanning what you will do. If you consider pets to be a part of your family, then you must include them in the planning.

Most people leave pets to fend for themselves, only to lose their pets in residential fires. A lot has changed over the years. Fire units now carry oxygen administration devices for pets who have been overcome by smoke. I was involved in a number of situations where we took pets who were overcome by smoke to veterinary hospitals. I was also involved in cases where public outcry caused our department to expend great resource to rescue someone’s pet or even a wild creature. This brings me back to my initial point; if your pet is important to you, then do your part to include them in your escape when your house catches fire.     

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