Sunday, March 20, 2011

Twelve Minutes

Hi Folks! Thanks for stopping by, and Happy First Day of Spring!

Here's a question for you: if you only had twelve minutes to evacuate your home, what would you take with you? I consulted several people on the matter, and their answers ranged from "my dogs and my wallet," to "the stainless steel silverware." We'll get back to that last answer in a minute! As you might imagine, among my animal-loving friends and acquaintances, the obvious answer involves grabbing their critters and leaving the rest.

I, too, thought that my pets would be my one and only concern. Then I realized that twelve minutes probably wouldn't be enough time to get all four of them into their carriers. I remember when the June 5 tornado ripped through Northwest Ohio: I had a reasonable amount of time to sequester the cats in the bathroom. The only problem was, I couldn't find all four. At some point, I was forced to quit looking and run for shelter. I waited out the storm with two cats intact, and a grim certainty that the other two probably wouldn't survive if the tornado took my home. As great good luck would have it, the tornado struck elsewhere, leaving my house without so much as a shingle out of place.

I imagine that's why my friend and Fowl Weather author Bob Tarte said he'd save the silverware in the event of a forced evacuation: because there's no possible way that he and wife Linda could rescue every single one of their 50+ animals. And who wants to think about such a depressing fact if you don't have to? I don't blame Bob for giving me such a flippant answer: it IS a depressing thought, knowing that in such a situation, you'd basically be signing the death warrant of every animal you didn't have time to rescue. I don't know if I could do it.

In asking the question, I'm referring, of course, to the twelve minutes that the residents of Sendai, Japan, had to evacuate their homes before the tsunami struck. The terror they must have experienced in those minutes is unimaginable. We here in the mid-west of the United States are uniquely fortunate in that we've never been threatened by a thirty-foot wall of water. Tornadoes, yes. Floods, periodically. But we've never experienced having entire towns wiped off the map in one fell swoop. I don't even know how you would start over after such a thing.

I heard on the news that a number of residents did manage to bring their pets with them to safety. I've also heard that a considerable number of animal rescue groups are already on the ground in Japan - just as they were in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina - searching the rubble for any signs of beloved family pets. The idea that people from foreign countries would put their own lives on hold in order to travel to a far-away place (at their own expense) to rescue the pets of complete strangers brings tears to my eyes. I know for a fact that if I were in the shoes of those poor beleaguered earthquake/tsunami victims, I could never repay my gratitude to the volunteers who found my cats.

I know that there are numerous animal rescue groups in action in Japan who could really use your donation money. I'm not going to mention them here because I don't have any way of knowing which are reputable and which are not. I can say with certainty, though, that you can get more information through Best Friends Animal Society by visiting their website at

I urge you all to think about how you would feel if volunteers showed up to search the rubble that used to be your home, looking for your pets, and I urge you all to consider making a donation to the animal rescue group of your choice. You can donate as little as five dollars. Just think if a thousand people each donated five bucks - that's five thousand dollars to buy critter food, carriers, and medicine to treat their wounds. Believe it or not, your five dollar donation could mean the difference between life and death! How cool is that?!

That's all for now, folks. Until next time, please say a prayer for the people of Japan, and please be kind to all the critters!