To save a pet, take Tuesday night’s class

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Volunteers with the American Red Cross — Olympic Peninsula Chapter hope to ease local residents’ worries following recent animal losses.

On Jan. 19, they are teaching pet first-aid, a course on the basics of preventing and dealing with any number of bad situations.

“It’s an all-comprehensive class on most common illnesses, injuries and getting to know your pet,” said instructor Diane Holdren.

The class focuses on cats and dogs with techniques that also can be used on farm animals. 

“It builds up your confidence so that when the time comes, you can do the right thing and respond well,” said Sam Ourn, the chapter’s health and safety services director.

Participants learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), first-aid methods and how to prepare for a disaster with a pet.

“The class helps you distinguish between an ailment and disease, so it saves you money,” Ourn said.

Be prepared for disasters
After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, many pets were abandoned.

Due to the massive number of homeless pets, rescue agencies started a relief effort to evacuate the animals. Many of them were transported and adopted through Washington animal shelters, Holdren said

“In time of emergency, some places have established shelters like fairgrounds and local veterinarian offices,” she said.

“It’s a matter of knowing your options when it comes to supporting your pet during an emergency.”

When the pet first-aid course was started locally in 2008, attendance was high. However, several courses have been canceled recently due to low turnout.

Ourn says Sequim has a large pet community and people do themselves a disservice by not taking the class.

Many Sequim residents live alone and their only companion is a pet, so if a situation were to arise, they might not know what to do, she said.

“If something bad happens, they’ll feel bad,” Holdren said.

Michelle Kelley, executive director of The American Red Cross Olympic Peninsula Chapter, said classes offer the chance to save the lives of their own or anyone’s pets.
“That’s important to all people,” she said.

Rescue effort
Sherry Nagel, a board member with the local American Red Cross, said taking the class saved the life of her dog Bandit.

While riding in her car on the Edmonds to Kingston ferry, Nagel saw Bandit become overheated and hyperventilating, rolling over with her tongue hanging out.

Nagel gave Bandit three breaths through the dog’s nose and poured water on her to cool her down.

“The techniques I learned through this course are what saved Bandit’s life,” Nagel said.

Taking the initiative
Holdren and Ourn said the course is applicable to anyone, of any age, who deals with or is around animals.

Pet owners can take rescue into their own hands, too.

“This could prevent you from waiting 20-30 minutes for an emergency response,” Holdren said.
“The longer you wait, the less chance a pet has to live.”

Taking the course could ease people in an emergency, Holdren said.

“Should an animal not be revived, people can know all that was possible was done rather than dwelling on ‘should’ or ‘could have’ situations,” she said.

 “A firefighter’s first job is to rescue the people and put out the fire.”

Reach Matthew Nash at

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