American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association

This article is from the WSSF 2011 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.

In Case of Emergency!
Our responsibilities as pet guardians

By Cathleen Schneider-Russell

WHAT IF? That question—just two words—can give any parent and/or pet guardian an instant feeling of total fear.

In 2000, The Bark, The Modern Dog Culture magazine*, Volume 13, published an outstanding article Fire: the Forgotten Victims. It was written by Caroline Paul, a San Francisco firefighter. She gave such dramatic and touching details of her experiences of rescuing people and animals from burning buildings. Firefighter Paul provided eye-opening information with regards to animals and their instincts during fires. Most importantly, she provided detailed information for how pet guardians can help to save our pet’s lives.

Begin With:

Window Stickers – large – at least 5 x 7 size. I am including two examples of stickers. I purchased these, enlarged one, and then made copies. You must personalize them with your specific details. Place them all around your home, including second-story windows—especially the Window sticker room where your caged darlings are located. In addition to that window, I have also placed a sticker next to the door knob, upon the door of the room where our ratties are located— both stating pet rats in here!

Do not put just one sticker upon your front or back door! The doors get smashed in first! In our home, including the stickers placed all around, I made a special sign which is placed in our front window that states In case of fire please rescue domestic pet rats—located left back room with fire sign on door by the knob. Contact: Cathleen (my emergency cell number), Roger (his emergency cell number) or (I list two persons who have keys, etc., and their phone numbers)

Firefighter Paul also recommends:
  • Get acquainted with your neighbors. If they are willing, they can be an essential blessing when you are away from home in order to personally inform the firefighters that your pets are inside! You can provide your neighbors with what is necessary to care for your pets and how to reach your special contact persons.
  • Evacuating Pets. If a fire occurs while you are at home and you cannot evacuate all your pets safely, speak to the firefighter in charge (usually wearing the gold badge). Try to be efficient with your details: size and color of cages and/or pets and where they might be located. Examples: right rear room, immediate right of upper stairwell; bathroom in middle right of house; left rear room with closed door with fire sign by door knob. Remember that firefighters must navigate inside your home with almost zero visibility and cannot see colored walls. If you haven’t received any word about your pets within the first several minutes, ask again! Human victims are priority, but once the house has been ventilated and visibility improves, the crew can be ordered again to look for your pets—don’t give up!!
  • Pet emergency disaster kits and travel cages should be kept freshly stocked with food and bottled water and must be easily accessible at all times!

Preparing for Incapacitation or Death of the Pet Guardian

This next subject is always the one we really put off dealing with. In the event we become physically incapacitated or upon our death—what happens to our darlings? The wonderful Jamie Pinn, Executive Director of the Humane Animal Rescue Team (H.A.R.T.), faces this challenge each day—it’s heartbreaking. Several years ago, in a pro-active approach, H.A.R.T.’s Board of Directors created the Pets Right to Live Declaration. I have included a copy of the wallet card that is included within each packet you can order (there is a fee) from H.A.R.T., which has most excellent and instructional information.

Emergency card

I am also including contact information below for Pet Guardian, LLC. Founder, Amy Shever, was very thoughtful and provided very helpful information. In addition, the Orange County SPCA, and attorney Tracy J. Roberts gave detailed information about California Probate Code Section 15212, which was enacted to allow for the creation of a valid trust to care for your pets upon your death, which must also include a durable power of attorney for health care should you become incapacitated for whatever reason. Trusts, wills, and advanced directives for health care must be prepared properly with specific and personal details. These are legal documents that must be notarized!

And finally, I highly recommend our attorney, Linda K. Ross, and have included her contact information below. The fees for these most valuable pieces of paper are not cheap. But, believe me, once this task has been completed, being a responsible parent and/or pet guardian brings a peace of mind that makes it totally worth the entire process!

*The Bark – The Dog Culture Magazine
Editor-in-chief Claudia Kawczynska

Pet Trust Information

Pet Guardian/2nd Chance 4 Pets, Amy Shever, Founder
1484 Pollard Road, Suite 444
Los Gatos, CA 95032
(408) 871-1133
FAX (408) 866-6659
Toll-free (888) 843-4040

Jamie Pinn, H.A.R.T. Executive Director, (310) 204-4350,
P.O. Box 920
Fillmore, California 93016

Cathleen Schneider-Russell’s Personal Trust Attorney:
Linda K. Ross, Attorney-at-Law
1370 Brea Blvd., Suite 124
Fullerton, CA 92835
(714) 680-6456 Tracy J. Roberts, Esq., Certified Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Specialist, the State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization *

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Updated November 23, 2022