By: Christy Peters, American Red Cross Communications Manager
Growing up, my parents sat firmly in the “no pets” camp. Until the week my father left on a business trip and my mom found herself at the local shelter, adopting a tiny mutt. Family lore varies as to what led to this decision, but one thing was for sure. My father, upon returning home, could not take back the puppy all three of his children were now in love with. Our tiny rescue puppy was a lot of fun and a lot of work and, much to my father’s dismay, wreaked havoc on our house on more than one occasion. She died while I was in college and my parents quickly returned to the “no pets” camp and remain there to this day.
I also sat firmly in the “no pets” camp for most of my adulthood. And then I met my now husband who, at that time, owned a dog, cat and horse. He is also a registered veterinary technician who spends his days helping other people’s pets. I quickly realized marrying him met entering a new world as a lifelong pet owner. So here I am, a reluctant but committed dog mom to an American Bulldog named Tyler Eugene. (Our cat passed away in 2015. The horse still lives on our property, but has a new owner, so I get to enjoy him without the added pressure of keeping him alive).
Since April is National Pet First Aid Month, it’s the perfect time to share my love for the Red Cross Pet First Aid app. Sure, I’m married to a vet tech, but there have been plenty of times Tye and I have been alone and if something happens, it’s nice to know I have this amazing resource at my fingertips. The app is free and provides instant access to expert guidance on what to do in emergencies, how to include pets in your emergency preparedness plans, and suggestions for a first aid kit. The app also helps owners keep their pets safe by learning what emergency supplies to have, when they should contact their veterinarian, and where to find a pet care facility or pet-friendly hotel. The Pet First Aid App can be downloaded by texting GETPET to 90999, by going to redcross.org/apps, or by searching American Red Cross in app stores.
Pet owners can also take a free Red Cross Pet First Aid course on their home computer. The online course takes about 30 minutes and you will learn the basics in caring for cats and dogs through a variety of topics – from understanding and checking your pet’s vital signs, to preventative care for cats and dogs, to caring for the most critical emergency situations – including breathing and cardiac emergencies, wounds, bleeding, and seizures.
Of course, all these terrific resources do not replace regular veterinary care, which is extremely important. But I know my family and Tye would agree that, in an emergency, we’re all thankful the Red Cross has mom’s back.