Dog-Earthquake Preparedness

Hi, my name is Maggie and I am an animal lover! Dogs are near and dear to my heart, especially the large, friendly variety. Two black Labradors are a part of my family and I often prefer to spend time with them, rather than most of the humans in my life. I look forward to contributing dog-related topics to Urban Toot in the future in “Canine Corner”.

My 9-year-old human son recently asked me what our earthquake plan is for our Labs. This child of mine often asks me questions that I do not have answers to and this one really stumped me. I am the crazy dog mom that has bought car seat belts for my dogs, organic dog food, hosted dog birthday parties, all natural flea treatments, etc. (you get the idea), but I had not thought of how to prepare and protect my furry loved ones in the event of an earthquake. I thought this question was quite timely as I was pondering what topic (of the hundreds in my head) I would start with for Canine Corner.

I did some research and found quite a bit of information. The American Kennel Club has a whole evacuation checklist and portable first aid kit list for pets ( Living in Southern California, we all more than likely have an earthquake kit, but does it include items for your pets? Have you considered how you will treat your pet in the event that he is injured in an earthquake?

FEMA also had some helpful information on their website regarding a pet disaster plan ( Some highlights are:

-Identify hotels in your area that accept pets in the event that you need to relocate and include the number of the hotel in your emergency numbers. AAA (Auto Club) publishes a great book called “Traveling With Your Pet” which lists hotels in your area that accept pets. In Glendale, you can take your pet to the following: Homestead Studio Hotel, Los Angeles Days Inn Glendale, and Vagabond Inn Glendale. There are many more hotels, this is just a start. You can also refer to Remember, not all shelters accept pets, so it’s important to have an alternate relocation site in place for your pet.

-Prepare a to-go bag in the event that you need to evacuate with dog food, bottled water, medicines, veterinary records, food dishes and first aid kit.

-Make sure your dog has a current I.D tag attached to his collar with your phone, address and pet’s name. Also have a current photo of your dog for identification purposes.

-Make sure you have a leash, harness and pet carrier in the event that your dog panics, you don’t want him to escape.

The FEMA article covers how to prepare for a disaster, and what to do with your pet during and after a disaster. FEMA also developed a video to help pet owners prepare for emergencies!

I also learned some tips from the article “Shaking up the Dog-Earthquake Preparedness” ( Make sure that your dog has an I.D. tag on his collar at all times and microchip him, if you have not already. Keep your neighbors’ phone numbers with you so that if you are away from home during an earthquake, you can call your neighbors to help you with your dog. Place a sticker in your window at home that states that there are dogs living there (good for fire rescue also!). It is also a good idea to have your local vet and emergency clinic numbers with you at all times.

And finally, an article by the ASPCA provided a few more things to consider ( The ASPCA recommends that you contact your vet for a list of preferred boarding kennels, ask your local animal shelter if they provide emergency shelter and ask out of town friends/relatives if they are willing to provide shelter for your pet if need be. ASPCA also suggests a “designated caregiver” who has a key to your home and could help with your pet if you are not able too. This caregiver could help your pet if something happens to you or you can not get home for an extended period of time. They recommend that leashes be kept close to your door and that dogs be brought inside at the first sign of an earthquake.

Wow, a lot of information but all helpful and could save your canine’s life. I went back to my son with my answer to his question and we reviewed our pet emergency plan as a family. Our furry friends are often helpless and rely on us to keep them safe. Let’s all cross our fingers and paws that we will not need to put the above procedures in place. Remember to pet and love your dog many times each day, they are only with us for a short time!


Maggie Mason, M.S.W.

Mother of two humans and two canines.  Author and therapist in “pre-mom life”.


Parents in Preschools: Seek first to understand

As a preschool director I find one of the most important things I can do is to understand parents. And at the same time I find it can be one of the hardest things to do. While I am a parent my children are grown. I have a different perspective having gone through adolescents with three strong willed children who were bound and determined to push me away as far as they could, only to come back as amazing adults.

Well, I have a puppy, and in this experience I have been reminded of how it feels to be a new parent, with a vulnerable being. My puppy is 2 pounds eight ounces and her name is Sofi. She reminds me of a toddler, with her uncoordinated body, her inability to regulate herself, her neediness and her fun spirit.

At the same time I an anxious, waking up in the middle of the night, wondering if she is ok when I am at work, showing pictures of her and telling everyone how smart she is.

When we work with parents I believe we have an obligation to see their child as that little pup, so young and fresh, their pride and joy. When you are looking for a preschool be sure to get a feel for the director and the teachers by interacting with them when possible. Do they smile when you walk in the classroom? Are you greeted or glared at?

Many times I have heard teachers being negative about parents coming into the school environment. While it can be disruptive, I believe we make unstructured time in a school program where parents are welcome to come in and have a visit. Many days I have seen the need for a parent to come in and observe their child, watching them and being able to see what is going on in the school. This can create trust, build a bond and reassure parents that their child is settled and doing well.

When looking at preschools take the time to tour and visit the school while in session. You will come to know if it is a place where parents are being understood and valued. A place where you can chat with a teacher, hear how your child is doing, a place where you belong.

 Debbie has been an early childhood educator for the past twenty years as a preschool teacher, director and parent educator. She is a member of the National Association of Early Childhood Educators, Pasadena City College’s Advisory Board and a local preschool directors networking group. Debbie is the owner and Director of La Canada Preschool. Her vision is to provide the best environment for children to experience discovery and their sense of wonder at this magical moment in human development. 

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