Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Operation Pet Rescue

By Gregory N. Zompolis

In the fall of 1991, after several years of drought, a terrible fire raged through the brushy canyons of Oakland, California. People died, thousands of houses were destroyed and many pets lost their lives or were left homeless. The fire spread so rapidly that people were not able to get their pets to safety and were lucky to get themselves out alive. Worse off were pet cats which, in times of crisis are apt to run off or hide and their owners were forced to leave them behind.
So after the fire was out, an organized rescue was put into operation to find lost pets, get them into shelters and get them medical treatment and ultimately reunite them with their families.
This book tells not only the story of that rescue effort but of the experiences of individuals and their animals in the fire. One lady trying to flee the fire with her dog was overcome by smoke and died in the street. Her dog refused to leave her body. He was a large dog and had to be forcibly dragged away even as the flames raged around him. A mama cat was able to stash her kittens in a crevice safe from danger before she was overcome by smoke and died a few feet away from her babies. The kittens were discovered in the crevice a few days later by rescue workers.

It's a heartbreaking story, tragic and sad. But a lot of lost animals were saved and reunited with their families. A lot of them didn't make it though and in the back of the book is a disaster guide for pet owners. It has many excellent tips that anyone who cares about their animals should take to heart. One of the things it advises is not to leave your pets behind. When danger threatens, it says to get your pets confined and ready to go at a moments notice. Cats into a carrier, dogs leashed, birds, lizards and other small pets into a portable container and ready to be evacuated. When things start to go bad, and people are rushing around in a panic, animals can become stressed and frightened too. It is up to responsible, caring pet owners to learn how deal with their animals in a crisis.

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