Disaster Preparedness: What To Do in the Event of An Emergency


When disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, floods, or fires strike a community, the impact reaches not only people but also resident livestock and companion animals. The impact on animals can include animals getting stranded and needing rescue, or permanent separation of companion animals from their owners or fosters.

Recent disasters highlighted the need for emergency response plans that include provisions for pet evacuations and to communicate relevant information to our fosters and volunteers. It is important for the Animal Emergency Preparedness Plan to be flexible and scalable, providing the protocols needed in the event of any disaster.

What To Do in the Event of An Emergency

If you have to evacuate please take all pets in the home, including foster pets. If it’s not safe for you to remain in your home, then it is not safe for the pets in your home to remain either.

Evacuate early. Don’t wait for an emergency evacuation order. Evacuating before conditions become severe will keep everyone safer and make the process less stressful.

Be Prepared!

1.    Check for and prevent any hazards that may already exist in your home such as:

  • Propane tanks – ensure they are safely kept
  • Monitor candles and heat emitting appliances such as ovens, stove, or clothes iron
  • Don’t overload electrical outlets
  • Test smoke alarms frequently to ensure they are in working order
  • Purchase a fire extinguisher and learn how to use it
  • Prevent carbon monoxide leaks by having your HVAC system, water heater, and other appliances that use gas, oil, or coal serviced by a professional every year
  • Make sure to always keep anything that gives off heat at least 3 feet away from flammable materials or items
  • If you have a fireplace, make sure your chimney is checked and cleaned by a professional once a year. Use a metal or glass screen that is large enough to prevent escaping embers
  • Check the testing labels on all major appliances that indicate you purchased them in safe working order. You may not find testing labels on older appliances, so consider whether it’s time to replace them or have them checked by a professional.
  • Avoid cluttering debris or junk near a furnace, heater or nay heat source

2.    Make sure that all information on identification tags and microchips are current and that both include your cell phone number and the contact information of a backup contact.

3.    Prepare a disaster kit that includes:

  • Food & water for at least 5 days
  • Bowls
  • Manual can opener
  • Medications and vet records
  • Litter, litter boxes and/or poopie bags
  • Harnesses, collars with tags (preferably martingale collars so your dog can't "back out" of the collar in fear), leashes and crates/carriers

4.    In the event another foster home is needed, write down anything a temporary foster may need to know about your pet(s) and foster pet(s) including behavior, feeding times, any medical issues, medication, etc.

5.    Develop an evacuation transport plan including where pets will immediately go in an emergency (car, neighbor’s house, etc). Determine the number of crates or carriers needed, and an emergency destination (Red Cross or FEMA shelter, family or friend’s house, vet’s office, etc.). 

  • Contact hotels/motels that are at least 50 miles from you to see if they take pets during an emergency.
  • Other essential supplies to store in a secure room in the home:
    • Nonperishable food
    • Bottled water
    • Battery-powered radios
    • First-aid supplies
    • Flashlights
    • Batteries
    • Duct tape
    • Plastic sheeting
    • Plastic garbage bags

Fires and Emergency Situations in the Home

In the event of a fire or emergency situation, call 9-1-1 immediately! Then:

  • Notify all people in your home as soon as possible by sounding any form of alarm- air horn, whistle, smoke alarm, or verbal.
  • Provide instructions to all occupants of the home as to where to exit and where to go once they exit the home. 
  • Once all occupants including pets in the home are safe and emergency personnel have arrived on the scene, contact a friend or family member to notify them of the emergency and your location. Also provide an alternate contact number for anyone who is with you.

Under no circumstances should you attempt to fight a fire that has passed the incipient stage (that which can be put out with a single fire extinguisher), nor should you attempt to enter a burning building to conduct search and rescue. These actions should be left to emergency services professionals who have the necessary training, equipment, and experience (such as the fire department or emergency medical professionals). Untrained individuals may endanger themselves and/or those they are trying to rescue.

Evacuation Routes

Develop an evacuation route plan of your home, assign a Designated Assembly Area or Evacuation Site for your home.

  • Designated Assembly Area (DAA) is an outside location at least 50 feet from the building, away from roads and walkways used by emergency vehicles
  • Evacuation Site (ES) a building in close proximity to the evacuated building that will provide protection from the weather or other elements in the case of a prolonged evacuation.

If an emergency occurs while at home or work, local emergency personnel will instruct and direct you to the nearest DAA or ES.

Discuss all emergency evacuation plans with all members of your household.

  • Appoint 1-2 people responsible for evacuation assistance in your home.
  • In the event that a fire/emergency alarm is sounded or instructions for evacuation are given:
    • Everyone should immediately exit the premises/building(s) at the nearest exits, as shown in the escape route
    • Meet as soon as possible at the Designated Assembly Area.
    • The people responsible for evacuation are to check all rooms for occupants and pets. 
    • Once a room has been checked and cleared, close the door to that room, but leave it unlocked. This will decrease the chances of a fire spreading.
    • Leave home exit doors open to allow any pets that may remain to escape to the outdoors. If you must, break a window to the room where you think pets may be hiding.

Securing Property and Equipment

In the event that evacuation of the premises is necessary make sure that gas mains, electricity breaker boxes and water mains are shut off.  Determine who in your home will be responsible for shutting off this equipment in your home.

Accounting for members of your household after an evacuation

Once a home evacuation has occurred to an evacuation site, an adult should account for each person and pet that was in the home and report this to emergency personnel.

Home Evacuation Re-entry

Once your home has been evacuated, do not re-enter it for any reason. All members of the home should remain at the Designated Assembly Areas or Evacuation Sites until the fire department or other emergency response agency notifies you that either it is safe to re-enter, or if relocation to a new location is discussed and determined.

Sheltering in Place: When not to evacuate

In the event of an emergency where authorities may determine that it is safer to remain where you are rather than evacuate in such instances as chemical, biological, or radiological contaminates have been released into the environment in such quantity and/or proximity to your home, please follow all instructions by emergency personnel and do the following:

  • Immediately lock exterior doors and close windows, doggy doors, and air vents.
  • Turn off, seal, or disable all fans, heating and air conditioning systems, and clothes dryers, especially those systems that automatically provide for exchange of inside air with outside air.
  • If there is a danger of explosion, close the window shades, blinds, or curtains.
  • Ensure all pets are inside.

If you have a room you can designate as a "safe room," put your emergency supplies in that room in advance. A safe room is a room that has no windows or exposure to the outside such as a walk-in closet, bathroom, basement or underground shelter.  Bring all supplies listed above (pet crate and supplies, any medications and a supply of pet food and water inside watertight containers, along with your other emergency supplies.) If there is an open fireplace, vent, pet door or similar opening in the house, close it off with plastic sheeting and strong tape.

Write down the names of everyone in the home and inform emergency personnel outside of the building of who is in the room. Listen to the radio, monitor TV, phone or check Facebook updates. Do not come out until you know it's safe and have been instructed to do so by emergency personnel.

Reporting Emergency Situations

All emergency situations must be reported as soon as possible. Emergency situations may include but are not limited to fires, earthquakes, floods, vehicle accidents during animal transport, injuries incurred by human or animal from bites and animal injuries incurred during physical exercise.

We want to ensure all members of your home are safe and accounted for in case of an emergency - both people and pets. For more information and tips on emergency situations, please visit the Red Cross and FEMA web sites. Also, please contact your local animal shelter and discuss their emergency plans for animal evacuations. You should also contact neighbors, family and friends to discuss emergency plans.


Special Needs, Special Deeds

“Special needs pets need special people!” This is a phrase that we hear frequently from rescues encouraging people to adopt special needs pets. But why is that? Is it because of the sacrifice we are willing to give and the extra time that we are willing to take to care for these pets? Is it because they require people with loads of patience, in a world that seems to have less of it?

The answer is a resounding NO! (echo, echo….) Caring for a special needs pet may be a bit challenging at first. There’s a strict schedule, medication routine, frequent vet visits. They are not like ‘normal’ pets. It is a lot of work, but no one really told me what I would get in return for caring for special needs pet. No one told me about what made these animals so special, or what I was about to experience.

My husband and I have the honor of caring for special needs pets. Our senior dog Reggie, a Lhasa Apso came into my life when we moved in together. He had a heart condition and was partially blind. I had to get accustomed to a new schedule with is daily heart medications, and we couldn’t miss a dose. We had to be aware of where he was at all times when moving around. We had to make sure that sharp edges were protected so he would not hurt himself. When we moved into our new house, we had to make sure to maintain a consistency with objects from our prior home and teach him how to move around the new one.  I could not change my routine while he got used to his new environment.

Reggie at Grand Canyon with my husband.

Reggie at Grand Canyon with my husband.

Zach is another one of our special needs pets. He was born in our house as part of litter by a mama cat we were fostering. He suffers from a condition called Angular Degeneration, which causes different bones to grow at different rates throughout his life. This results in impaired mobility and the inability to retract the claws from his front paws. He has overgrown shoulder blades and does not have a kneecap in one of his legs so he cannot bend it. We are also not able to microchip him due to his issues with his shoulder blades. He is not able to jump like normal cats, and since he cannot bend his left leg, he is very prone to getting it caught in a certain spaces as he moves around our home. We had to identify all areas and spaces where he may get caught and make them inaccessible to him. We also have to make sure that he never goes outside unattended because he can’t defend himself. We need to give him daily massages to help relax the muscles in his front paws and to help his claws retract. We also have to do weekly nail trims for the claws do not retract.

Tank is another one of our special needs pets. He is an English bulldog who suffers from allergies and requires daily serum injections. Tank came to us with one of the worst cases of mange and skin infections that we have ever had in our rescue. We fostered him, and after Reggie passed, we foster failed and made him a permanent member of our home. Little did we know at the time that his ailments were a direct result of his allergies. Tank is allergic to approximately 90% of the allergens included in a typical canine allergy panel. He will require serum injections for the rest of his life. He also suffers from severe dry eye, which requires life-long daily eye medications.

Our special needs pets are a lot of work! So why put in all of this effort? Why spend all of the time, energy, and money on these pets rather than a perfectly healthy one? Because caring for a special needs pet is one of the most rewarding experiences! These are the pets that get rejected most often and the ones that need us the most. You may think that I am biased because of my personal experience with my own special needs pets, being an animal advocate, and my involvement in animal rescue. But the reality is, we have not met more dedicated, loyal, and loving pets than our special needs dogs and cats.

Reggie was the best boy. He got along with everyone he met. He did not like his ears to be touched, but he loved cuddling with us. Reggie was pretty set in his ways, but always showed gratitude. Everyone who met Reggie loved Reggie. He was everyone’s favorite and still is, even almost 2 years after his passing.

There is no cat more loving than Zach. All of our cats are very affectionate and love spending time with us, but Zach is beyond special with his affection. He makes sure to spend time with everyone in our home, both people and pets. He grooms all of us, and he’s such a cuddler! He also shows his love by trying to knead on me – even though his movements are limited. He is the welcoming committee for all of out new foster kittens. He loves to keep them company and groom them. He is just a wonderful kitty.

Zach spreading the love with our dog Maya

Zach spreading the love with our dog Maya


Tank is a mama’s boy. He does not leave my side. He follows me everywhere. He listens well. He is obedient and well behaved. What surprises me the most about him is how awesome he is about taking his injections. I just call him and tell him it’s time for his medication. He patiently lets me give him his injection then excitedly waits for his reward cookie. His best friend is Zach, who would spend time with Tank while he was recuperating from his skin issues. Tank gets along with all dogs that come through my home and helps with our puppy fosters by keeping them entertained and always playing with them. I have had to learn to deal with excessive drooling, but that’s just a part of who he is, and we love him.

Tank couldn’t get closer to me if he wanted to. Here he is while I was working on my computer.

Tank couldn’t get closer to me if he wanted to. Here he is while I was working on my computer.

These are just a few examples of how exceptional special needs pets are. My husband and I also have full-time jobs, and I also run an animal rescue. We find the time to provide our special needs pets with the love and care they require and deserve. It is so worth it!

If you are looking for a pet with whom you can build a strong bond, I encourage you to consider fostering or adopting a special needs pet. They come in all shapes and sizes, with different needs, some require more than others. But in the end, their wonderful personalities and temperament will make it difficult for you to not fall in love with them; and the love you will feel from them in return is beyond measure. It truly takes a special person to care for a special needs pet. It takes a special person who is willing to accept and cherish an unlimited amount of love and gratitude that comes from caring for them. So the question is: Are you that special person?

To show your support for special needs pets, purchase a tee, tank, hat or tote from our new Special Needs, Special Deeds collection. All proceeds go towards the care of special needs pets.

A Rescuer’s Insight on Breed Specific Legislation

The following guest post was originally posted by the Paw Prints in the Sand Co-Founder and President in Pet Rescue Report

Mack- a PPITS rescue pit out of Carson

Mack- a PPITS rescue pit out of Carson

What is BSL? BSL stands for Breed Specific Legislation, which essentially makes certain dog breeds illegal based on their looks or breed. The breeds most commonly included in these laws are: Pit bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans, German Shepherds, American Bulldogs, Presa Canarios, Mastiffs, Chow Chows, Dalmatians and Wolf hybrids, among others depending on locality.

The reason these breeds are often deemed “illegal” in areas around the United States including Arkansas, Colorado, and Florida and across the globe is because they are assumed to be “vicious” or “risky” simply due to their breed, mix or even the shape of their heads. Most recently, the City of Montreal passed legislation that would ban any dog resembling a pit bull and kill thousands more. Anyone who owns a dog remotely resembling a pit bull would have to register his or her dog with the municipality and muzzle it while in public. In addition, the dogs would be required to be under adult supervision while in public at all times.

If the dogs are in animal shelters or without an owner (strays), they will be euthanized. Additionally, BSL often prevents responsible would-be dog owners from providing a good, loving home to one of these types of dogs because of landlord or homeowners insurance requirements, which will not allow it. So, here’s why BSL is BS specifically as it applies to pit bulls: Pit bulls used to be known as ‘America’s Nanny Dog’ because of their friendly nature, loyalty and stability. They served in WWI and WWII, and many pit bulls are decorated veterans who have served our country. Furthermore, based on a study by the American Temperament Test Society, Inc., pit bulls are among the most tolerant dogs with 86.8% of pit bulls tested passing for temperament, ranking only second to the Labrador Retriever.

Ruthie is a PPITS rescue dog. She was once a bait dog used in dog fighting. She's now her baby brothers' best friend.

Ruthie is a PPITS rescue dog. She was once a bait dog used in dog fighting. She's now her baby brothers' best friend.

I have personally fostered numerous pitties and have one of my own. Before I got involved in animal rescue, all I knew about Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans, and every other dog breed listed under BSL was what I saw in the media and how they were portrayed: vicious, aggressive, or high risk. However, practically every dog that has come through my door has been nothing but loving, loyal, and sweet. It took having hands on experience, educating myself, and gaining a better understanding of these breeds and proper handling for me to change my attitude and perception about these amazing dogs!

We rescued Dalton from San Bernardino Shelter. He had severe pneumonia and had to be hospitalized for a month. He is now living with a wonderful loving home.

We rescued Dalton from San Bernardino Shelter. He had severe pneumonia and had to be hospitalized for a month. He is now living with a wonderful loving home.

We want to help bring awareness to the issue that is BSL and put an end to the unjustified prejudice against certain breeds of dogs. We hope you will join us and support our ‘I’m With The Banned’ campaign by purchasing one of our shirts and give these great dogs the rights they deserve.

To help bring awareness BSL, please go to visit this link to purchase a 'I'm With The Banned' T-Shirt . Proceeds from this campaign will go towards the dominant breed dogs we rescue and towards our rescue programs. For more information on Paw Prints in the Sand and the work we do, please visit our web site at www.pawprintsinthesand.org, or on our social sites: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Happy World Cat Day

Happy World Cat Day from all of us at Paw Prints in the Sand! It has been 4,000 years since cats were domesticated and became members of our homes and families. The ancient Egyptians were the first to bring cats into their homes to control pests and vermin. Cats were worshiped and considered gods and goddesses. Harsh penalties and punishments were served to those who harmed or killed a cat.

Cats are still one of the most popular pets in today’s society, not to mention that they are the unofficial emissaries of the Internet, which is why we celebrate them today.

So why do we love our cats?

1.     We love their independence
Unlike their canine counterparts, cats don’t constantly crave attention nor do they become disturbed when their humans leave. Cats also don’t look to humans for guidance in unfamiliar situations. Rather, cats prefer to deal with matters on their own.

2.     They have a calming effect
Have you ever noticed the calming feeling you get when petting a cat? Not only is a cat’s purring mesmerizing; the tactile feeling when stroking its fur can be meditative. Also, cats more deeply register our tactile presence. Cats can also help release oxytocin, which is associated with the feeling of being in love.

3.     They have healing powers
A 10-year research study suggests that cat owners were less likely to die of heart attacks than people who have never owned one. The latter group was 40 percent more likely to die from heart attacks and 30 percent more likely to die from cardiovascular disease. Other studies confirm that cats can lower our blood pressure and release dopamine and serotonin, which reduce stress and improve immune functioning.*

4.     They are low-maintenance
Cats are easy pets to own. You don’t need to walk them every few hours. They don’t require bathing or constant attention. Cats are just happy to be near you, and you can go away for the weekend and not worry about hiring a pet sitter (although we always recommend you have someone check on your cat just to be on the safe side). And, they are small and typically allowed in most apartments and rental living situations.

5.     Cats are extremely loyal
Everyone equates loyalty to man’s best friend, but cats are extremely loyal companions.  They love to be pet and cuddled. If you give a cat a bit of attention, you will get a lot of love in return. Also, people think that cats don’t know their names or respond to their humans like dogs do. Not true! Cats do know their names and understand when you call them. They just don’t always care. ;)

6.     It’s fun to watch them play
Cats love to play! Have you ever dangled some string in front of a cat or a laser pointer and watched a cat playfully go after it? Their curiosity and acrobatics are always entertaining. And, did you know you could train a cat to fetch just like a dog?  Yes, cats are trainable too.

Sadly, over 80% of cats that enter the shelter system are euthanized on an annual basis so, of course, we also had to take this opportunity to encourage people to adopt a cat from a shelter or local rescue organization. There are so many wonderful kitties of all ages looking for the puurrfect furever home. And, don’t forget to spay or neuter your cat to help reduce the kitty overpopulation in our shelters and on our streets.

Having a cat is a very rewarding experience. To receive the love and affection from a kitty is one of the best feelings around, but they will only reserve it to those who properly take care of them, so make sure to provide your cat with the basics:

  • Scratching post tall enough for their size
  • A comfy kitty bed
  • A litter box that is large enough and tall enough to contain liquids and litter, proper litter (most cats like soft small pellet litter)
  • Fresh water
  • Ample food
  • Kitty toys

Now let’s celebrate World Cat Day with some fun cat videos and maybe even by saving a life! Your new feline companion will thank you!

*The finding was the main result of a 10 year study of more than 4,000 Americans by researchers at the University of Minnesota's Stroke Institute in Minneapolis.

PPITS Announces Its Volunteer Incentive Program

Photo by suemack/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by suemack/iStock / Getty Images

We always say: “We can’t do it without you!” And, we truly can’t, but sometimes just saying ‘THANK YOU’ isn’t enough! Your time is valuable, yet you chose to donate it to help us, so we would like to reward those volunteers who go the extra mile to help us help homeless pets! Here are couple ways we want to do to show our appreciation for you:

1.     Earn Points for Volunteer of the Month – Every act of volunteerism earns you points. You can perform multiple acts for one initiative. For example, if we host a garage sale, and you get items donated, you get points. If you help promote it on social media, that’s more points. If you help out at the garage sale, even more points. The volunteer with the most points at the end of the month will be eligible to receive a gift card, either Starbucks, Costco, a restaurant gift card, etc. To win, you MUST be active during that month in any form of volunteering: fostering, events, persistent social media outreach (sharing posts, encouraging others to do the same, etc.) transporting, fundraising, writing – anything that is you donating your time! We will pick one volunteer a month who truly goes the extra mile! Here's the scale of points:

  • Fostering - 20 pts
  • Coordinator (adoption, volunteer, foster) - 20 pts
  • Event participation and planning - 15 pts
  • Fundraising - 15 pts
  • Social media outreach - 10 pts
  • Dog walking - 10 pts
  • Transport - 5 pts
  • Writing - 5
  • Home checks - 5 pts
  • Administrative - 5 pts

2. Events prize: One volunteer will get a prize for their participation in major events, like fundraisers, Pet Expo or Strut Your Mutt. Participation must be all-inclusive to be eligible. For example, for Strut Your Mutt, you would need to help us build the team, participate the day of, help promote our team, etc. Prizes will include tickets to Disney Land, Duffy rides, massages... Things that will be relaxing and fun!

We cannot thank you enough for your support and want to reward you for it!

'Tis the Season for Pet Allergies

Think only humans suffer from seasonal allergies? Think again!  Like humans, pets can experience the negative effects of allergies. The most common pet allergies are fleas and seasonal allergies due to environmental elements such as grass and pollen. Symptoms of environmental allergies include sneezing, swelling of the feet, hair loss in the underbelly, and watery eyes.  If your pet experiences hair loss, constant itching, hot spots, or other skin issues that are unresolved or show up continuously, allergies may be the culprit. These symptoms are most prevalent at the beginning of the spring season and may require prescription medicine and specific allergy tests in order to pin point the allergen and to figure out the correct course of action and medication needed to treat the allergies. This is true especially if the symptoms are severe. Sometimes, the allergies can be treated with over-the-counter medication such as Benadryl (in dogs), If the allergies are more severe, your vet will prescribe medication.

Many pets also have flea allergies, which are easily addressed with monthly flea protection. Talk to your veterinarian about suspected allergies.

Food allergies are also very common. Typical indicators of allergies include watery eyes, hair loss, severe itching or swelling. Additional symptoms include irregular stool or diarrhea, vomiting, or if it’s a case of anaphylactic shock, pets will display an inability to breathe and the loss of bowel control. The most common ingredient that causes food allergies is corn, so grain free food is always recommended to keep food allergies at bay. Some pets may also be allergic to a specific type of protein such as beef, chicken or fish, so it would be important to monitor your pet’s reactions when ingesting food with the specific protein in order to pin point allergies and to help you feed the right kind of food.

The following are likely to cause allergic reactions in dogs who are sensitive to them:

·       Tree, grass and weed pollens

·       Mold spores

·       Dust and house dust mites

·       Dander

·       Feathers

·       Cigarette smoke

·       Food ingredients (e.g. beef, chicken, pork, corn, wheat or soy)

·       Prescription medications

·       Fleas and flea-control products (Only a few flea bites can trigger intense itchiness for two to three weeks!)

·       Perfumes

·       Cleaning products

·       Fabrics

·       Insecticidal shampoo

·       Rubber and plastic materials

It is important to keep in mind that a flea allergy may only require a few flea bites to trigger intense itchiness for 2 to 3 weeks. Many cats with allergies to plastic materials will display missing hair around their mouths.

It is also a good idea to have Benadryl in pill form as part of your pet’s first aid kit. Talk to your veterinarian about the correct dosage in case of an emergency for your pet, so you can be prepared.  If you are notice any symptoms mentioned above, contact your veterinarian immediately and discuss what could be the cause and the appropriate course of treatment. A healthy pet is a happy pet!

Today Marks National Dog Fighting Awareness Day

Dog fighting is one of the worst acts of animal abuse that exists today. The Humane Society estimates that there are over 40,000 "professional" dog fighters in U.S., and there could be an additional 100,000 "street" dog fighters. It is a cruel and inhumane money making machine where not only those gambling on the dogs make money; breeding winning males can generate thousands of dollars to dog fighters while females are strapped down to rape stands for reproduction. Their puppies are often sold at a very high price.

Fights average one to two hours, ending when one of the dogs will not or cannot continue. The dog that cannot continue is either too injured to do so or did not survive. Dogs used in these events often die of blood loss, shock, dehydration, exhaustion, or infection hours or even days after the fight as the people involved do not provide care for any wounds inflicted. Rather, they let them suffer to die from their injuries.

Usually the dog fighters punish a dog with further abuse for not fighting up to standards or for not fighting at all. An example of this in-humaneness is Miss Blue, a sweet Pit Bull who was recently rescued from a dog fighting ring in LA. They cut off her ear as a punishment for refusing to fight. Miss Blue suffered from multiple bites and wounds, and this isn’t even the most severe case we’ve come across. Another horrific example is Oogy. You can read his story here: http://www.animals-abused.org/oogy-story.htm

In addition, the brutality used in training these dogs to fight is nothing short of sadistic. When former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was convicted on federal charges related to dog fighting in 2007, this cruel underground blood sport was thrust into the spotlight. It also brought to light the merciless treatment of these dogs that includes electrocuting; hanging, drowning, and their training methods are equally as horrific.

The ASPCA designated April 8 as National Dog Fighting Awareness Day (NDFAD) to “increase understanding and awareness about dog fighting and to encourage animal-lovers across the country to take a stand against this brutal form of cruelty.”

Dog fighting is a felony in 48 states (Misdemeanor in Idaho and Wyoming). The Department of Justice is slowly starting to crack down on dog fighting rings. Other agencies and offices under the DOJ that play role in putting an end to animal fighting include:

  • Offices of the United States Attorneys
  • United States Marshals Service (USMS)
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)
  • Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

Signs that dog fighting is occurring in your community include the following:

  • Elusive neighbors that are often seen with different dogs especially pitbulls
  • Evidence of suffering dogs (crying, foul odors, injured dogs often appear in your neighborhood)
  • Dogs coming up missing often in your neighborhood
  • Breeding facilities with dog houses or toppled drums that are separated and where dogs are chained and cannot socialize such as this:

If you are aware of or suspect dog fighting in your community, please call your local law enforcement officials. You can be a part of the national movement to help put an end to this form of animal abuse.

You can also send a message to the Anti-Dog Fighting Campaign, a global organization dedicated to putting an end to dog fighting worldwide, with various chapters in the US and Canada. You can message them via Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AntiDogFightingCampaign?fref=ts or via twitter by following @ADFCampaign. Your information will be kept confidential. Information you provide may help with current investigations in your area or launch new ones.

In addition, the ASPCA offers a wealth of information on the issue of dog fighting and how you can take a stand. For more information and to join the campaign to put an end to this cruel “sport” please go to: https://www.aspca.org/dogfighting

*Photos of actual dogs rescued by the ASPCA in dog fighting raids. Photo credit: ASPCA
Sources: ASPCA, Humane Society, PETA



Patience, Love and Determination.  These are the three words that come to my mind when I think of animal rescue.  My name is Angel Salazar. I am a volunteer with Paw Prints in the Sand Animal Rescue and this is what I have learned so far from volunteering with them.

I started to volunteer as part of my school’s community service requirements for my senior project about animal cruelty and how to help abused animals. During the course of my project, I did a lot of research on the topic of animal cruelty and abuse and wrote a 10-page paper on its facts and what could be done to help abused animals have a second chance at life.  My paper introduced cases of animal cruelty involving physical abuse, neglect, and starvation, to mention a few. After completing my research, I then arrived to the conclusion that it is our responsibility to help stop animal cruelty at least by helping the rescue organizations that rehabilitate the animals that have been subjected to abuse, or to volunteer and make a difference in their lives.

Although my senior project is complete, I continue helping rescue animals under the mentorship of Monica one of the rescue’s co-founders. As a result of my hands-on work with the rescue pets, I found that patience, love, and determination are the three things a person needs most when helping abused animals. 

In addition to providing assistance at adoption events, my volunteer work has consisted of assisting in the rehabilitation of rescue animals in training and socializing walks with the rescue’s professional Master Trainer Tim Welch of Redefined Dog Training. In the course of these training walks, I learned that PATIENCE is needed because depending on what these pets have been through, it may take some time for them to get used to people and other pets as well.  At first, while walking the rescue dogs, I saw that some of these pets like to test the people with whom they are not yet familiar, to see how much they can get away with.  For example, on my first couple of walks, some of the dogs would not listen to me, but they would listen right away once the trainer was near us.  It was actually quite interesting to see how he could get them to listen. From this I learned that being patient and assertive helped me handle the dogs better, and when I would provide a command to a dog while being assertive, the dog would readily follow the command.

I also learned that LOVE is a key factor in helping these pets. Some came from a world where all they knew from their previous owners was hate and abuse, but all they needed to be shown is love, along with it being what all pets deserve.  I experienced that showing the rescued dogs some love allowed them to show their love back to me.  One such dog is Dalton. He is a great dog, and I enjoyed walking and training with him very much. What I learned from him is that dogs have a lot of love to give.  On one of my first walks, a lady that seemed to know Dalton very well approached him, and he was filled with so much happiness and excitement to see her. It was almost unbelievable, but the same was with me when I would come to work with him and all I had given him was a few hours of my time at a training walk. It was very rewarding to see, and I was happy to love him back.

Lastly, DETERMINATION is something I saw that the co-founders, the fosters and volunteers had while working with Paw Prints in the Sand. The rescue dogs had been through so much and in some cases it was not easy for all of them, but no one was giving up on animals.  Back to Dalton, I was very surprised when I found out Dalton had been waiting to be adopted for a very long time (almost 2 years!) He was such a good dog, and I couldn’t understand why people didn’t want to adopt him right away.  But with determination, the rescue continued working with Dalton, and he even received his Canine Good Citizen Certification. I was very happy to learn recently that a great family had finally adopted Dalton. It was nice so see him finally have a home. 

Ultimately, whether it is trying to find a rescue and abused pet a new home, or trying to help them recuperate, it is very important to stay determined and not give up on them.  I learned a lot from working with them. I am so excited to continue to help and work with them. I look forward to working with our new rehabilitation cases and getting more involved in saving the lives of abused animals, as well as getting more of my friends involved with this cause.

Paw Prints in the Sand is always in search of volunteers. If you would like to join our team, you can view our available volunteer opportunities and send your application by visiting www.pawprintsinthesand.org/volunteer or by contacting us at volunteer@pawprintsinthesand.org.


Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa… No matter what you celebrate, your holidays are filled with celebration. But, that doesn’t always mean you have to include your pets in the festivities. Funny pet videos, gifts for pets, and even trying to make them a part of the holiday feast; as fun as all of these activities may seem, pet safety is a key concern that all pet owners need to consider during the holidays. So we’d like to give some tips on keeping your pets safe while celebrating the season.

The Christmas Tree: The lights, the bulbs, the garland – all look like toys to your pets.  

  • Securely anchor your Christmas tree so it doesn't tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pet.
  • Provide your kitty with a cat condo so he/she will be less inclined to exercise on your tree.
  • Make sure that you do not use any chemicals in the water for your tree, which may poison or cause stomach upset. Also, make sure that it does not stagnate causing bacteria to reproduce and affecting your pet’s digestive system.

Mistletoe, Holly & Poinsettias:  These plants are a holiday must, and while very pretty, they can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea if ingested by your pet. Mistletoe is poisonous can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. Also, many varieties of lilies can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested. We suggest you opt for just-as-jolly artificial plants made from silk or plastic, or choose a pet-safe bouquet.

Tinsel: Pets love this sparkly, light-catching decoration that's easy to bat around and carry in their mouths. But, a nibble can lead to a swallow, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. It's best to avoid it all together.

Menorahs: Don't leave candles unattended or use flameless candles instead. Pets can burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over. Be sure to use appropriate candle holders placed on a stable surface. And, make sure you extinguish all candles when you leave.

Wires and electric cords: Keep wires and cords out of paws reach. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock and a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus.

Decorations: Be careful with glass ornaments. Shards of a broken glass ornament can damage your pet's mouth and digestive tract, which could cause serious GI issues and even death. Try decorating with plastic ornaments to avoid the issues.

Food Dangers
Food is an integral part of the holidays, which is why going on a diet is the #1 New Years resolution, but your pet doesn’t need to share your holiday treats. Make sure you keep the following away from your pet:

  • Chocolate
  • Anything sweetened with xylitol
  • Spicy food
  • Cooked bones
  • Alcohol
  • Grapes

Plan a Pet-Safe Holiday Gathering
Make sure to exercise your pet before your party so they will be calmer when your guests arrive. It’s always best to keep your pets secured in a room or crate during the festivities. You wouldn’t want one of your guests to inadvertently give your pet a treat that will him or her sick. Also, a crowd could cause anxiety in your pet so it’s best to give them a safe haven while you enjoy your guests.

Welcoming the New Year
As you count down to the New Year, please keep the following in mind:

  • Confetti is lots of fun for dogs and cats and can cause intestinal obstructions that could require surgery.
  • Poppers and fireworks can frighten pets and cause anxiety and possible damage to their ears. Make sure to secure them in a safe, escape-proof area as midnight approaches.

Finally, make sure to keep the contact information for your Emergency Vet or your Veterinarian handy in case of an emergency.

From all of us here at Paw Prints in the Sand, we wish you and your pets a very happy and safe holiday season and a wonderful New Year!

Join Paw Prints in the Sand for #GivingTuesday

Join Paw Prints in the Sand for #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy and celebrate generosity worldwide.

This year we have joined with ViewSonic to help us with our fundraising initiatives. The company will match every dollar donated by its employees to #PawPrintsintheSand.

However, you don’t have to be a leading technology company or a billionaire to give back. #GivingTuesday is about ordinary people coming together doing extraordinary things. AND, it doesn't have to be just one day. You can dedicate the entire holiday season to giving back!

So, if you would like to help us help homeless pets on #GivingTuesday, join our #TextingTuesday by texting PAWS to 80077! You can also visit our donation page at www.pawprintsinthedsand.org/donate

For more information please go to www.pawprintsinthesand.org/news.