Small investment, great returns

Published 10:37 pm Wednesday, September 5, 2007

By Staff
Pet owners often consider their dogs or cats (or rabbits or gerbils) as family members.
A pet lover knows that his or her dog does tricks when it wants something, or that his or her cat is the only alarm clock he or she needs when breakfast time comes. Pets are the ones who do understand when the rest of the world doesn’t — and they ask little in return except food, water, shelter and affection. So it makes sense for pet owners to take advantage of programs offered by the Humane Society of Beaufort County this week.
Tomorrow’s program on making sure pets are disaster-ready is a free one. Saturday’s clinic offers rabies shots for $5 per animal and an identification microchip for $20 per pet. Both offerings will be held at the Betsy Bailey Nelson Animal Control Facility. By the end of the week, a $25 investment may ensure that your pet is safe and protected.
Tomorrow night, a representative from the United Animal Nations’ Emergency Animal Rescue Service will teach pet owners how to prepare disaster plans that include their four-legged companions. Cora Tyson, whom Donald called an expert in disaster preparedness for pets, will show pet owners what they need to put in disaster kits for pets. She’ll also talk about the importance of taking pets’ medical records and current photos of them if a family has to evacuate during a hurricane or other natural disaster.
Pet owners may think it’s intuitive to know what to have on hand in case of such an emergency, but when a hurricane is bearing down on the coast, it’s easy to forget something. It’s better to go to a program like this one when a storm isn’t looming. That way, an owner is prepared when the time comes — and his or her pet is protected.
By the same token, a $5 rabies shot is inexpensive protection that could save a pet (and its family) from a cruel disease. Even if a pet doesn’t contract rabies from an encounter with a wild animal, state law requires that the pet be quarantined for months if rabies is suspected and the pet hasn’t been vaccinated appropriately. That’s a difficult — and unnecessary — decision to have to make.
At the same clinic, identification microchips will be available for just $20 each. That small investment “could save a lot of heartbreak,” Donald said this week. If a dog or cat is separated from its owner during a disaster — or just because it wandered away — a microchip could help reunite the companions, she said.
The microchip is inserted by way of a procedure that mimics giving an injection. It goes in quickly and is put in a fleshy area of a pet’s body, near the shoulder blade.
The chip, which Donald calls the “Social Security number” for a dog or cat, is assigned a number that goes into a worldwide database. The number matches information that includes the pet’s name and its owner’s name, along with a contact telephone number. Most veterinarians’ offices and animal shelters, including all those in Beaufort County, have the capability to “scan” pets that have microchips.
Some companies charge a yearly fee to keep a pet’s name in a database. But the company the Humane Society is working with charges only a flat fee that’s good for the lifetime of the pet.
Tomorrow’s free program starts at 7 p.m. The clinics run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. They are minimal investments that will pay off at critical moments.