Finding the Right Pet Sitter / Midwest Tornado Outbreak

talk2theanimals_ver2_300pxWith the holidays approaching, many people have started the search for a pet sitter so they can travel, having peace of mind that their animal pals are well cared for if very important. 

Click on the link below:

What you need to know when looking for a pet sitter.




Included in this article is a free book giveaway.  No strings attached and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect with the recent Tornado Outbreaks in Illinois on November 17, 2013.  A minimum of 15 tornadoes either were seen or touched town in Illinois and several cities were affected.  On this day I was attending to clients pets securing them in their homes not knowing what actually was going to happen, especially after Emergency Management Agency text met to report to the EOC.  Before leaving to care for my clients pets, I secured my own in their crates in the basement.  The dogs seemed to know something was up and willingly went inside their crates.  While I was gone, my companion saw the rotating wall cloud that would hit Washington, IL with an EF4 tornado.

Brookport and Union City in Illinois were also hit with an EF3 Tornado and my friends in who work with various Animal Controls and rescues, have noted there are dead cats and dogs everywhere.  Many of the human and animal victims of these tornadoes are homeless right now.

Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and DisastersIt’s important to be prepared ahead of time.  So I am giving away in a drawing one Free Copy of “Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters”  Click here for instructions on winning a copy of the book.



Preparing Families With Pets For Hurricane Season

Image courtesy of Mike Trenchard, Earth Sciences & Image Analysis Laboratory , Johnson Space Center.

Image courtesy of Mike Trenchard, Earth Sciences & Image Analysis Laboratory , Johnson Space Center.

Katrina veteran and Best Friends’ emergency response manager John Garcia discusses the importance of being prepared.

Click the link below to learn

What’s the number one strategy to keep pets safe if you are in the path of a hurricane? 

Summer Heat Preparations For Pets

Mega in a stream


When summer officially kicks with the summer solstice, you’re already feeling the heat.  Summer weather can be extremely dangerous to pets. Professionally it’s our job to keep them safe and healthy!



Taking our client’s dog out for summer jaunts in the middle of the sweltering heat can take its toll on their dog.

Dogs Do suffer from heat stroke

They can quickly come down with heat stroke but unlike people, dogs have very limited ability to cool off by sweating.  There sweat glands on their foot pads only so the way for cooling down is panting and it can be insufficient to lower body temperature on a very hot day.

Signs of heat stroke include:

Heat Stroke or hyperthermia happens when a dog severely overheats and if the heat stroke hasn’t advanced to fair (more than 104 degrees F you can still help your dog recover).

  • Signs or Symptoms:
  • Collapse
  • Body Temp is 104 degree F or above
  • Bloody diarrhea or vomit
  • Capillary refill time is too quick
  • Depression, stupor (acting drunk), seizures or coma
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased respiratory
  • Mucous membrane color is redder then normal
  • Salivation
  • In severe cases lips begin to turn pale blue or gray.
  • Seek vet care even after you have gotten the temperature of your pet down

Tips to cool down a pet in the heat:

  1. Always supply your pet with fresh clean water and make sure the dish is out of the sun. Put ice in to keep it cooler, longer.  Keep water with you regardless not only for their well being put for yours.
  2. Take your dog swimming or hose them with water on hot days but not all dogs are born swimmers.  Swimming with your dog is great exercise and can also provide relief from summer heat. Theoretically all dogs can swim, however, some breeds such as Bulldogs, Basset hounds and Pugs have more difficulty than others so it’s important to know its physical ability, stamina, body shape, condition and breathing ability. Fit your dog with a PFD (personal flotation device) if you are not sure about his swimming ability or if you plan on taking him boating.  These are made for dogs to keep their head above water and have a handle on the back to make it easier to grab them out of the water. Never force the dog, take is slow, have reasonable expectations and have fun. Never let your pet drink the water in which it is swimming.  Don’t forget to hose off your pet after swimming.  If your are boating with your pet remember: dogs get seasick too so be prepared, make sure your pet has proper identification or is micro chipped in case it falls overboard and is picked up by another boater or swims to land, and have a plan for the dog to go to the bathroom.
  3. Walk dogs in the early morning or late hours of the day when the sun is least harsh. Carry water during these walks.
  4. As summer nears, it’s important to provide your pet with proper treatment for the prevention of heart-worms, ticks and fleas.  Check your pets for ticks and fleas. Purchasing a pet-safe bug spray if they spend a great deal of time outdoors.  Make sure your vet knows all of the products you are using as well as all the medication your pet is on to prevent any drug interactions. If your pet spends a lot of time outdoors, also look into purchasing a pet-safe bug repellent to prevent annoying insect bites.
  5. Don’t take your pets to crowded summer events like parades, festivals, farmers markets, and carnivals.  The heat, noise, crowds and the general excitement can be emotionally and physically draining for your pet and this can result in anxiety and stress.
  6. Walk your dog on grass or dirt to avoid burning their paws on hot pavement.
  7. Groom your pet properly and ensure they are free of mats. Do your home before shaving your pet.  Many pet owners believe it’s best to shave their dogs and in some cases it’s a good a idea and other it is not.  Leaving about an inch of fur can prevent sunburn, protect the pet from biting flies and mosquitoes.
  8. Provide access to shade at all times.
  9. The UV rays can also give your dog a nasty sunburn, peeling skin, painful inflammation and increase the risk of sun cancer.  Fur can provide some protection from the sun.  But the bridges of the nose, ear tips, skins around the lips and other area that lack pigmentation are highly susceptible to the sun.  There is specially formulated sunscreen that can be used on pets depending on the location of the sensitive skin. Use care in picking the product as cats and dogs are prone to licking themselves and should not ingest most lotions.
  10. If you have a rabbit, keep the hutch in the shade, wild rabbits spend the hottest part of the day in their underground burrows where it’s cool.  Never leave your dog in the car, even with the windows open for any length of time. This is the No. 1 cause of heat stroke in dogs remains being left in a hot locked car, it takes only a few minutes for the internal heat to increase forty degrees or more above the outside air temperature… especially in direct sunlight.

A dog’s normal body temperature is 101 degrees; at 104 degrees and above, the dog is subject to heatstroke and can die in minutes. The most common cause of dogs dying from heatstroke is from being left in overheated cars.

What Can You Do If You Notice A Pet In Heat Stroke

  •  Get the dog out of the direct heat
  • Check for Shock
  • Take the dog’s temperature normal temperature is 101 degrees F
  • Spray dog with cool water.  If it is an outdoor hose run the hot water out of it first
  • Place water soaked towels on the dog’s head, neck, feet, chest and abdomen
  • Turn on a fan and point it at the dog
  • Rub rubbing alcohol 705 on the dog’s foot pads to help cool down and do not use large quantities it can be toxic if ingested
  • Take the pet in for veterinary treatment immediately

The goal is to decrease the body temperature to about 103 degrees F in the first 10 – 15 minutes and stop the cooling process because the body temperature will continue to decrease and can easily plummet to a dangerous level.

Even if you get the body temperature get the pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible other possible problems could arise if the condition is not treated:

Abnormal heart rhythms

  • Destruction to the digestive tract lining that can lead to bloody vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Kidney failure
  • Neurological problems, including seizures and swelling of the brain
  • Problems with blood clotting
  • Respiratory arrest

Dogs that are most prone to heatstroke include pups and older dogs; overweight dogs, and dogs already sick or recovering from illness or surgery, preexisting medical conditions.

The dog breeds that are most prone to heatstroke include short-faced breeds; the double-coated breeds; and dogs bred for cold climates.

Short face breeds:

These dogs have the “pushed-in faces” on relatively-broader heads. They have an elongated soft palate in the throat along with narrowed nostrils and  includes: Boston Terriers, Boxers,  Bulldogs, especially the English Bulldogs, Pekinese, Pugs, and Shih Tzus.

Double-Coated and Cold Climate Breeds include:

Akitas , American Eskimo Dogs,  Anatolian Shepherds,  Bearded Collies,  Bernese Mountain Dogs, Bouvier des Flandres  Chow Chows, Collies, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Great Pyrenees, Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs, Huskies, Irish Wolfhounds,  Malamutes , Newfoundlands,   Norwegian Elkhounds,  Old English Sheepdogs, Pomerians, Samoyeds, Shelties, Shibu Inus

Please listen to Peaceful Planet Pets, LLC as I talk about protecting pets during the summer heat. on June 2, 2013:

Joyce Rheal is based in Southern Illinois and is a nationally certified pet care consultant, trainer, and the author of “Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters” and “Disaster Plan: Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters.”  Joyce Rheal is also an active volunteer with the Emergency Management Agency.

Protecting Your Pets from Getting Lost or Stolen

Trojan and Gitli aug 20 2012I have lost count to the many phone calls and emails from upset pet parents whose pets have gone missing and these call usually come several days if not a week later.  I ask the usual questions.  Does your pet have a collar with an ID tag?  Is your pet micro-chipped?  Do you have a current photo of your pet?  Have you put up flyers and contacted the vets, shelters, police, animal control in a 10 miles radius?

The usual answer to these questions is No.

One of the most frightening things that can happen to any pet owner is their pet disappearing. It does happen.  Some pets will run off to explore or hunt and then are not able to find the way home.  Some pet get out of their enclosures, slip off leashes, or even dart from the car or from an open door.  Some pets are lost after a vehicle accident or are stolen.  Dog theft is on the rise and the target is usually purebreds, hunting dogs or bully breeds.  The dogs get sold on the black market to labs, puppy bills, or even as bait dogs for dog fight training.

A responsible pet owner will protect, supervise, and know where their pet is at any given moment and yet after all the efforts made sometimes things just happen. We can take steps to protect our pets from becoming lost or stolen:

  • Keep color photos of your pet and of you being with your pet current.
  • Be diligent in checking the pets enclosure or fenced area to ensure that escape isn’t possible.  A fenced yard DOES NOT guarantee that your pet is safe and secure without supervision.  Dogs can dig under, jump over, and climb up and over fences.  Even a little hole can become an escape route for a determined pet or thief.
  • Most places have leash laws for dogs, follow the leash laws and do not let your dog run off leash in an unfenced area.
  • Some dogs and cats tend to run out an opened door, be careful when opening doors.
  • Avoid leaving pets alone in the yard, car, or tethered outside of a business. It really does take just a moment for a pet to vanish.
  • Make sure leashes and collars are secure.  I recently transported a dog whose collar was not fitted to him and he slipped out of it.  I am thankful the dog responded to his training and went right to the car to jump in.  I fitted his collar immediately.
  • Make sure your that the data on your pet’s collar and micro-chip are up to date.
  • Most communities issues rabies and license tags to pet owners, securely attach these to the pets collar.  Keep these tags valid, these can help trace the pet owner.
  • If your pet is tattooed make sure it’s visible and that the data at the Tattoo Registry is up to date.
  • Replace frayed, worn, or chewed collars, leashes, and cable runs.
  • Be careful with the retractable leashes, they do not normally give pet owners optimal control and when some dogs will dart when these are dropped because of the noise it makes hitting the ground and retracting.
  • Many pets turn up missing after a big noise event or loud parties, especially related to fireworks.   Make sure pets are secured during these events and never leave them outside and unattended.  Other loud triggers can be thunderstorms, construction noises like nail guns, big delivery trucks, other types of large equipment, motorcycles, gunshots, backfire from vehicles, sirens, and horns.
  • Traveling with your pets can be fun but travel safety is very important.  Take precautions and if flying the crate needs to be secure and properly identified.  Keep pets from running out of open vehicle doors and do not leave them alone in the vehicle.
  • Training your dog is important.  A solid foundation of obedience training can be essential especially a strong recall command.  Keep treats handy at all time for incentives.

Not all lost dogs will bark for help and some instinctively remain still and quiet to avoid getting the attention of wild or human predators.  Time is of the essence when a pet vanishes and pet owners must take immediate action:

  • If theft is a possibility call law enforcement immediately.
  • Post signs and flyers that has a current color photo of the lost pet and your contact information on it, be sure to include in large black letter “LOST DOG or CAT” and include a description of your pet.  If your pet is tattooed or micro-chipped mention that but do not mention what the tattoo or micro-chip number is.
  • Contact local animal hospitals, shelters, animal control, rescue groups, and other pet related businesses
  • Canvass the neighborhood and ask friends, neighbors and family members for their help.
  • Post lost dog ads in the newspaper
  • List your dog online at lost dog databases.
  • Act fast and do not give up hope
  • Don’t beat yourself up, even the best preventative measures don’t always work
  • Post on websites designed to help with lost pets.
  • Utilize Social Media like Facebook and Twitter and don’t forget to include your location which means include the city and state.  I have seen a lot of lost pet posts that don’t include this vital information.

There are criminals who will see your misfortune as an opportunity to make money so beware of scams.  Avoid posting the actual reward amount, tattoo and micro-chip information on the signs and flyers.  Do not give out your full name and address for your own safety.  If you receive a tip do not send any reward money until your pet is safely in your arms.  Never go out alone to pick up your pet from anyone you do not know and let your friends and family know where you are going.

Other tips to remember:

  • When your pet is spotted don’t chase this could cause your pet to run away whether it’s out of fear or being playful.  Make sure your search parts knows this and that they know how to approach or shy or fearful dog.
  • Leave fresh food and water, bedding with shelter and some favorite toys outside the pet’s home
  • Periodically visit each of the locations of where signs and fliers have been posted and replace as needed
  • Don’t forget to post a sign on your vehicle and ask friends and family to do the same
  • Keep tracks of all places you have posted sign and visited and remove signs immediately after your pet is home.  Keep a log of online listings as well and remove your listing when the pet has returned home.

Pets owners don’t expect to have their pets get lost or stolen yet assuming it could happen and taking steps to prevent it can help.  Sometimes all the preventive measure just isn’t enough.  Never leave your pet unsupervised in vehicles, tethered outside of business or even in their own yard.  If you think your pet has been stolen contact the police immediately.  If your pet becomes lost take immediate steps.  Most importantly, Don’t Lose Hope and Keep Getting The Word Out.

Joyce Rheal is based in Southern Illinois and is a nationally certified pet care consultant, trainer, and the author of “Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters” and “Disaster Plan: Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters.”

Murphysboro, Illinois Derecho May 2009

Trojan inspection
A derecho is a widespread, long-lived, straight-line windstorm that is associated with a fast-moving band of severe thunderstorms. Generally, derechos are convection-induced and take on a bow echo form of squall line, forming in an area of wind divergence in the upper levels of the troposphere, within a region of low-level warm air advection and rich low-level moisture. They travel quickly in the direction of movement of their associated storms, similar to an outflow boundary (gust front), except that the wind is sustained and increases in strength behind the front, generally exceeding hurricane-force. A warm-weather phenomenon, derechos occur mostly in summer, especially during June and July in the Northern Hemisphere, within areas of moderately strong instability and moderately strong vertical wind shear. They may occur at any time of the year and occur as frequently at night as during the daylight hours. Attribution:

Below is a video of the storm damage that I received after a Derecho came through Murphysboro, Illinois May 8, 2009.

Have You Prepared Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters?

Joyce Rheal is based in Southern Illinois and is a nationally certified pet care consultant, trainer, and the author of Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters.

FREE Screening of Beyond the Myth

Saturday March 9, 2013

Time: 1:00 PM

FREE Screening of A Film About Breed Discrimination: Beyond the Myth

BeyondTheMythFlyer (2)

Joyce Rheal is based in Southern Illinois and is a nationally certified pet care consultant, trainer, and the author of Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters.

GET READY Preparedness Fair

Pet Survival Kits BoothSaturday February 2, 2013

Time: 2:00 PM – 6:00 PM

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Old Highway 13, between Tower Rd. and Country Club Rd., Carbondale, IL 62901

Hurricane Sandy, Harrisburg, Joplin and now Newtown have these events heightened our awareness that an unexpected disaster can happen at any time. Would you like to have great peace of mind knowing your family is prepared for whatever may be in your future? Whether it is loss of job, derecho or earthquake, The Preparedness Fair Saturday February 2nd at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will help you begin your efforts to survive future disasters. Learn tips on weather advisories, responding to an active shooter, communication skills and much more. FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!  There will be many organizations and individuals with tips to help you begin preparing as well as scheduled presentations:

2pm Jim Rasor, WSIL TV3 chief meteorologist
3:15pm Larry Moore: Active Shooter Response
4:15pm U of I: Conflict Resolution Skills
5:15pm SIUC: The movie “Suddenly… on an Average Day ”

Attribution: Kara Dunkel

Joyce Rheal is based in Southern Illinois and is a nationally certified pet care consultant, trainer, and the author of Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters.

Preparing Your Pets For Emergencies and Disasters Presentation

Pet Survival Kits BoothFebruary 23, 2013

Time: 10:30 AM – 5:00 PM

Preparing Your Pets For Emergencies and Disasters will be presented at the Harrisburg District Library located a 2 W Walnut, Harrisburg, IL 62946-1261, the book signing will follow the workshop.




Please RSVP to Harrisburg District Library by February 1, 2013 if participants would like an autographed copy of “Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters.”

You have been informed that you have 15 minutes to evacuate and you have pets.  What Pet Owners WISH they had known before an emergency or a disaster strikes. Don’t evacuate without your pets.  Joyce Rheal author of Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters will be presenting a workshop and book signing.  The work shop will consist of the importance of Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters, don’t leave your pets behind when evacuating.  Joyce Rheal will facilitate pet owner in creating a disaster plan that includes their pets.

Joyce Rheal is based in Southern Illinois and is a nationally certified pet care consultant, trainer, and the author of Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters.

Keeping Pets Safe During Tornadoes

A picture of a tornado showing the kinds and sources of vortex infrasound generation. Attribution: NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory   Source:

Attribution: NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Source:

Tornadoes can happen at any time during the year, yet the most common season for tornadoes starts in the spring as the cold temperatures give way to warmer.  In most cases, tornadoes happen at night, and being prepared is what will make the difference of our pets surviving and not being separated from us.

Tornadoes are violent rotating column of air that contact with the ground and a cumulonimbus, or in rare cases the base of a cumulus cloud.   They come in many sizes and shapes yet most are visible as condensation funnels in which the narrow end touches the ground resulting in damage, downed trees and flying debris and dust.  The majority of them occur  in “Tornado Alley”, a specific region of the United States.  Tornadoes have been observed on every continent except Antarctica and can occur anywhere in North America.

The U.S. National Weather Service (USNWS) uses pulse-Doppler radar to detect and recognize patterns of storms that may produce hook echoes.  The USNWS provides storm spotters classes for volunteers to be weather spotters to assist in the efforts of spotting dangerous storms.  USNWS has created a network of weather professionals and storm spotters that provide them with vital information to inform communities of approaching tornadoes.  “When thunder roars, go indoors!”

Tornadoes usually come with thunderstorms, and understanding the different alerts is imperative to protecting yourself and pets.

  •  Severe thunderstorm watch means that conditions are right for lightning or damaging winds great then 58 miles per hour, hail that can reach a diameter of 0.75 inches, and heavy rain. Start taking actions to protect yourself and your pets.
  • Severe thunderstorm warning means one has been sighted either in your area or is headed your way.  Animals, especially dogs, often hear thunderstorms long before humans, and will indicate the storm’s approach by becoming anxious, hiding, vocalizing or showing some type of stress. Horses sometimes will run around their pasture frantically.
  • Tornado watch means that conditions are right for tornadoes to develop and keeping an eye on the sky became imperative.
  • Tornado warning means that a tornado has been sighted, either by a spotter or on radar.  These warnings will give the location and the path of the tornado.  Warnings will go out immediately to areas that can be affected by the warning.  Take cover when warnings are issued in your area – and include your pets!

You can increase the chances that you and your pets will survive a tornado by preparing yourself.  This means taking several steps to keep yourself, your family and your pets safe during thunderstorms and tornadoes

  • Make your disaster plan and include your pets and practice it.
  • Designate a safe area in or near your home that will allow animals to be brought inside.  Pet-proof these areas by closing off and eliminating unsafe corners and areas where pets may hide, and move dangerous items likes tools and chemicals from these areas.
  • If you don’t have shelter from a tornado, stay in the center of your home and away from the windows and outside walls.  Take cover under solid furniture or mattresses and protect your heads.  Your pets should be in carriers to protect them.
  • If you are driving and a tornado is spotted  get out of  your car with your pets and seek shelter. If you use a ditch, be watchful for flood waters so that you and your pets do not drown.  Protect your head and stay low to the ground.
  • Teach all family members what to do if they are at home, outside, in a car when these storms approach and include teaching them how to relocate all animals to safe areas.
  • If your animals become stressed during these storms, mitigate their responses.  Contact your vet for safe solutions and remember that drugging them could actually hinder attempts at relocating them to safe areas.
  • Brings your pet inside and remember: if it is NOT safe for you to be outside it is NOT safe for  your pets to me out.
  • Create an evacuation and first aid kit for your family including your pets and keep it easily accessible.
  • Maintain emergency pet supplies as part of your evacuation kit and secure this in a tornado proof room or cellar.  Be sure these supplies can be easily transported.  Include in your kits:
    • An adequate supply of food, water and treats for your pets
    • Sanitation items which can be litter box and litter, puppy pads, bags for picking up dog feces.
    • Crates for each pet to provide a secure place for them as the storm passes.  Emergency shelters that accept pets will require these before pets are granted access.
    • Do not forget your pets medications.
    • Include copies of your pets vaccinations and current photo of them with you.
    • Make sure your pets shots are up to date
    • Each pet should have a collar with an identification tag that is up to date and visible.
    • Micro-chipping your pet will increase the changes of your pet being reunited if you become separated.  This information must be up to date.
    • Practice with your pets in getting them into the tornado safe area
      • Train dogs to go into the safe areas and to come on command during distractions
      • Learn to teach how to quickly and safely secure all your pets
      • Find favorite hiding places and learn how to safely remove pets from them.

 Never leave pets chained or enclosed outside in a way that they cannot escape danger.

 Take your pets, evacuation and first aid kits if you have to evacuate.

Tornadoes can occur anytime of the year. By taking precautions and making preparations, pet parents can increase the chances of their pets’ survival and staying with their families.  Your pets are family too! When tornado warnings are go off, take cover and take your pets with you.  Taking care of your pets after the storms will be just as important.  Your home maybe very different after a disaster; familiar landmarks and  smells are missing, things in disarray, downed trees and power lines. This can be very distressing and confusing for your pets.  Leash your pets and don’t allow them to roam in the yards.  Your pets can easily get lost under these conditions.  Keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers until you have completed your damage assessment to prevent escapes.  Get your pets back to normal routines as soon as you can and be patient with them as they may develop behavioral issues resulting from stress.

Joyce Rheal is based in Southern Illinois and is a nationally certified pet care consultant, trainer, and the author of Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters.