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Study shows most pet owners would attempt CPR on their dog or cat. But what about other emergency preparedness?

October 22, 2009 |  7:01 pm

Cat CPR

Although most pet owners say they'd attempt doggie- or kitty-CPR to save an animal in danger, many are unprepared to deal with a wide range of other pet-related emergencies, according to a new poll conducted jointly by the Associated Press and Petside.com.

The poll, conducted Oct. 1-5 by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media, utilized telephone interviews (both cellphone and landline) with 1,166 pet owners nationwide. Of those, 58% said they would be at least somewhat likely to perform CPR on a pet in need. (That figure is an average of dog owners, of which 63% said they would try to perform CPR, and cat owners, of which 53% gave the same answer.) Additionally, female pet owners were statistically more likely to attempt CPR on their pets, with 65% of women and only 50% of men saying they would try the technique.

"If people value their pets like a family member, they should know how to do CPR, just like they would for their kids. In disasters, pets get hurt and run into debris and all kinds of things," Mark Solnick, director of emergency preparedness and response for the Red Cross of Santa Monica, told the Associated Press of the findings. 

Both the American Red Cross and a number of private organizations offer pet first aid and CPR classes.  Fortunately for Angelenos, one of these, Sunny-Dog Ink, offers seminars right here in Los Angeles. 

Dog first aid Despite the generally favorable CPR statistics, the poll found emergency preparedness lacking among pet owners in several other key areas. Fifty-four percent of those interviewed said they did not have a fire evacuation plan for their dog or cat, and only 20% kept a stocked pet first-aid kit in their home. The Associated Press reports on a few other troubling trends:

And the survey revealed frequent reporting of dangerous practices that can lead to accidents and injuries. For example, a quarter of pet owners, including 30% of dog owners and 22% of cat owners, give their pets bones from table scraps, at least sometimes.

Sixty-two percent of dog owners and a third of cat owners let their pets ride in their cars unrestrained, rather than placing them in a special pet carrier. And 11% of pet owners sometimes leave their pets unattended in a car or truck.

A few more interesting statistics from the new poll: Seventeen percent of those interviewed said that a pet had been bitten or attacked by another animal (9% said their pet had been the attacker in such an incident, and 5% said their pet had bitten or attacked a human); 16% said their pet had experienced an allergic reaction; 7% said their pet had consumed poisonous material; and 11% said they'd had the agonizing experience of having a pet hit by a car.

The American Veterinary Medical Assn. offers a handy, printable list of items that should be kept in a pet first-aid kit; among them are phone numbers for the pet's regular veterinarian as well as an emergency vet clinic and the animal poison-control center (888-4ANI-HELP); gauze; nonstick bandages, towels or other cloth as well as adhesive tape to secure cloth in place; milk of magnesia or activated charcoal for use in the event of poisoning; hydrogen peroxide; and a thermometer. For the full list, check out the AVMA's website.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photos: (top) Pet first aid and CPR instructor Denise Fleck demonstrates how to perform CPR on a cat dummy at the Burbank Animal Shelter. Credit: Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press

(bottom) A pet owner demonstrates how to revive a dog's heart during a pet CPR class. Credit: Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times

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