Are you and your pets prepared in case of disaster?


Well, it’s still raining and we are happy to report that nothing bad is happening on the grounds of The Cecchine Hotel for Dogs.

This week is the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Issac, the 9th anniversary of Gustav, the 12th anniversary of Katrina, and the 25th anniversary of Andrew.  In light of Hurricane Harvey and flooding in Texas and Louisiana, please take a moment to think about what you would do if you faced similar circumstances. New Orleans is currently under a flash flood warning and western Louisiana is flooding while Texas is dealing with catastrophic flooding. Don’t let your guard down, the hurricane season peaks September 10th. This is the time to be prepared.

If you shelter in place during an emergency, make sure that you have 
sufficient food, water, and pet meds on hand. You can fill your bathtubs 
with  water just in case. It's a good idea to place an emergency decal in 
your  window that shows how many pets you have. It will let emergency 
responders  know to look out for your pets. You can purchase one here.


How do you decide: Evacuate? Shelter in place? 

This is a tough decision. Where are you going to go, and for how long, and what will it cost? What about work and school? What if you have multiple pets? This is not an easy decision to make. It has a lot to do with your resources, your personal network, and even your past experiences. First, listen to your local authorities, they generally know best. They cannot predict everything that is going to happen, but they have access to the best prediction models and the full picture of what is happening in your area. Second, plan to stay and plan to go. Be prepared either way.

If there is a voluntary evacuation, emergency planners would like you to make a decision early and stick with it. Don't wait until the last minute to evacuate. If it is a mandatory 
evacuation leave as soon as you are told to do so. If the order is shelter in place, resist the urge too evacuate anyway. These are called "shadow evacuators" and they put at risk 
those who really need to evacuate. This was a cause of unnecessary deaths during the Hurricane Rita evacuation.

Take Your Pets With You in an Emergency

Have a plan in place for evacuating with your pets. If you have friends or family that can take you in, make a plan with them. For a list of pet friendly hotels check out Bring Fido.  You can email, text, or call to get help making a reservation or finding a vet wherever you end up. Things have changed a bit since Katrina, more hotels will waive animal prohibitions during evacuations, and response organizations like the Coast Guard have better plans and are better prepared to deal with families that have pets. Local Emergency Management organizations are generally required to prepare and care for citizens during a disaster, including plans to accommodate pets. Since Hurricane Katrina, the federal Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) was passed. Significant changes have been made to federal and state emergency planning policies to develop emergency preparedness plans and ensure that state and local emergency plans take into account the needs of individuals with pets and service animals during a major disaster or emergency. Keep in mind though, while there often is no specific policy, emergency responders may refuse to take your pet if it appears aggressive, so have a muzzle if you think that your dog might be aggressive or appear so due to stress.

If you will need to go to a pet friendly shelter during an evacuation, make sure you have the following items: a crate, a leash and collar , a two-week supply of food and water (and bowls!), kitty-litter and a litter box, your pets’ vaccination records and medications.

***Not all communities offer pet friendly emergency/evacuation shelters. Please know that local and state health and safety regulations do not permit the Red Cross to allow pets in disaster shelters. (Service animals are allowed in Red Cross shelters.) Plan ahead, prepare a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians who could shelter animals in an emergency; include 24-hour phone numbers. 

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) information on animals in public evacuation centers

Click on the links below to find designated pet friendly emergency/evacuation shelters.*from

Alabama Alaska Arizona

Arkansas California Colorado

Connecticut Delaware Dist. of Columbia

Florida Georgia Hawaii

Idaho Illinois Indiana

Iowa Kansas Kentucky

Louisiana Maine Maryland

Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota

Mississippi Missouri Montana

Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire

New Jersey New Mexico New York

North Carolina North Dakota Ohio

Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania

Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota

Tennessee Texas Utah

Vermont Virginia Washington

West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming


If you are evacuating by car with your pet or pets, you will need to take:

3-7 days of food and water - collapsible bowls are perfect for both. Your vet's contact 
information should be in your phone and wallet, along with your pet's medications and medical records 
(scan or take a picture of them), harness(es)/leash(es), travel carrier(s) or collapsible 
wire crate(s). We bought a soft roof top carrier for the car that will fit these and dog 
food in case we need to evacuate. Don't forget poo bags, or cat litter, litter box, and 
extra trash bags. I highly suggest paper towels and lysol wipes as well as several 
blankets/towels. *A favorite toy will go a long way to calm a stressed pet. 

Download the American Red Cross app Pet First Aid and make a simple first aid kit: small 
flashlight, alcohol swabs, cotton balls and sterile gauze pads, tweezers, first aid tape 
and scissors, latex gloves, hydrogen peroxide, instant cold pack, instant hot pack, hand 
sanitizer, and styptic powder or liquid to stop minor bleeding. You can also buy a kit here.

Does your pet get car sick?  Dramamine can be given to dogs for motion sickness: 12.5 milligrams for small dogs, 25 milligrams for medium dogs, and 50 Milligrams for large dogs. I found out with my carsick puppies that lavender essential oils help out, so I purchases an inexpensive diffuser for the car. It plugs into the lighter and does a wonderful job masking wet dog smell.

What to do if you find a pet that is lost

Unfortunately, disasters are times when pets get away more frequently. Please use caution when approaching an unfamiliar animal. Frightened or possibly injured animals are unpredictable. DO NOT come up from behind them; make sure that they can see you approach. If the animal seems aggressive, back away and call your local police or animal control.  If the animal seems friendly, approach slowly, speak calmly, and try to entice the animal with food. You can lure a dog into your car or a carrier, and then restrain with a leash if possible. I have a snack baggie of treats in my purse and a slip leash in my car/s glove box, just in case. Sometimes a lost animal will come right up to you, or jump into your car. If you can, carefully put a slip lead over their neck and check for a tag. The other day, I parked at Whole Foods next to an SUV that had a female lab sort of stuck half-way out of the rear window. The driver had left the window part way down and went shopping. DON’T DO THAT. There were pigeons and I think the lab was trying to get to them. I was able to help her get out of the window and into my car using treats, and then we waited for the owner to return. She was a bitch, but her dog was sweet as can be. (And I was very nice when I said that it is too hot to leave your dog in a car.) Her dog’s tag had an address, but no one answered the phone number listed. I asked about that and she said I don’t answer numbers I don’t know. Fair enough, but I left a voice mail. She didn’t thank me, but her dog did, so it was worth it.

If you cannot reach an owner, or there is no collar and tag, then you can take the animal to the closest vet or animal shelter and ask them to check for a microchip. If you take the animal to the shelter or animal control, ask what their “stray hold” time is. This is the length of time that the shelter must keep the animal before it can be released to the care of a local rescue or be adopted, or, depending on circumstances, be euthanized. Let the shelter know if you’d like to foster or adopt the pet if the owner is not found. Make sure to call back a few times to check on the animal’s status and let them know your intention.

Please consider the limitations of shelters. They may not have sufficient space, and, if the animal is sick or injured, they may euthanize to relieve their suffering. Space and budget limitations mean that the shelters must make painful decisions about how best to allocate their resources. Consider that and think about helping the animal yourself. At least consider what you would want the finder of your animal to do if roles were reversed, but be reasonable about how much you can afford to do for that animal if no owner shows up. Are you willing to add them to your household? And will you be willing to return them to their original home if the owner turns up and you have formed an attachment? What if the animal is injured or sick? Before you take an animal to a private vet for treatment, be willing to assume financial responsibility. Consider reaching out to rescues for help. If you are willing to foster an animal, providing a home and food, many rescues will pay for vetting. These costs are then offset with adoption fees and fundraising efforts. If you do fall in love, then you can be among many who foster fail and adopt.

What to do if your dog goes missing

Before anything happens, please have good, clear pictures of your pet’s face and of their full body. It’s also a good idea to have a picture of yourself with your pets in order to prove ownership.

Please tag and microchip your pet! Most shelters and vets have microchip readers. If your pet is missing, call your microchip company and make sure that they have your current, updated contact information. It’s a good idea to save the phone number in your contacts on your phone so that its easy to find. I know that my dogs have chips from different places. so it would take some time to sort it out. I’ll be adding them into my contacts today.

Google to find the vets and animal rescues and shelters in the adjoining counties (if you are in Louisiana, we call them parishes). Call with a description of your pet and their microchip ID. They will want to know your dog’s color, age, size, temperament, any identification that was on the dog (collar, tag, microchip), where the dog was lost, and how to reach you. You can also ask them if they would be willing to post a flyer of your missing pet. Your flyer should include your pet’s name, breed, physical description and a recent photograph. Include your name, telephone number, and email address.

In many cases, someone will find and take in your pet. Post pictures and info on your missing pet on your local, and post on Facebook pages set up for missing pets in your area.

If you’ve lost your dog in your immediate neighborhood, walk around calling their name. Go to places you know that they like, and do your best sound cheerful. Let your immediate neighbors know that your pet is missing and ask if they’d mind keeping an eye out for you. If you are away from your neighborhood when they are lost, check back at your car often. Some dogs are very good at finding the car again and will be waiting there for you.

Where your pet goes depends on their temperament. If they are shy and introverted, they will probably hide; look in bushes. If they are extroverted, they will look for other humans to provide food and comfort; look in neighbors’ yards and parks. Most dogs are found within a two mile radius of their home or the place that they were lost. How far they go is a function of their size and age. Large and young dogs can go as far as five miles, while small or older dogs will go half a mile to a mile at most. Draw a circle and then get out walking or on a bicycle.

Contact local dog shelters daily to see if they’ve found your dog or if a kind stranger has handed them in. Most shelters are 
online and have pictures of found pets. Stray dogs will usually be held for about a week before they are made available for 
adoption. If it has been more than a week, look at websites like Petfinder where you can search by location and breed.

Have a tag on your dog with a current phone number, including area code, and a street address including city and state. The collar should be snug, but not too tight. Make sure that you can fit two fingers beneath it. You can have tags laser printed withe your contact information at most pet stores. Or, if you are like me, and you need a sense of humor to get through the day, check out my new favorite Etsy shop, A Taylor Made Design for custom tags. Ashley makes the cutest, hand stamped tags, and she is a supporter of The Cecchine Hotel for Dogs, so please support her by buying these great tags (have your phone number on the back). Ashley has a great sense of humor and two great dogs, a Miniature Pinscher named Logan, and a Miniature Pinscher/Australian Shepherd mix named Shay, who inspire her work.  I’m thinking we might need custom Cecchine Hotel for Dogs tags…

Please remember, if your dog does come running back to you, set aside your anger and frustration and greet them warmly. Reward them for coming back, do not punish them!

Stay safe and take care of your family. Pets are family too.

What I Did This Summer

Its Back to School season, and I am desperately ready for cooler temperatures. This used to be my favorite time of year. I’m not going to lie, I miss autumn up north. New Orleans is a great place to live, except for July and August. Summer break is absolutely my least favorite time of the year here. It feels like winter up north; we are stuck inside day after day, heat, humidity, mosquitos and afternoon thunderstorms minimizing any time outside at all. It is much easier on me when I’m working from my front porch office and the dogs can be out playing. Back to school means that cooler weather is coming soon. My baby just started middle school and my oldest will start high school applications soon. They are becoming more and more independent, still, we have a lot going on around here.

One of the first assignments of the school year is the What I Did This Summer project in my son’s French classHe came to me asking for pictures of Bernie, who is very missed around here after his adoption. Of all the things he did this summer, Bernie was foremost in his mind.

We had a crazy summer. He picked one, but I’m thinking of all of the dogs we have had here. We reached 9 at one point, which is too many dogs, though I wouldn’t do a thing different. What I did this summer is save dogs, as many as we could. I didn’t get much work done, but I saved a lot of dogs, and I’m happy with that. I found out that the shelters fill up in the summer. People surrender their pets left and right.

We started the summer with our permanent residents, Pen, Ollie, and Bailey, plus Henry, (our beagle who was undergoing heartworm treatment and had to go through months of cage rest) and Tres, our Tripod lab mix puppy (who had FHO surgery and two months of rehab an hour from home). I put a few miles on the car going back and forth across Lake Pontchartrain, but it was worth every mile to watch Tres heal and run and play without pain. He is doing really well. Yesterday Tres and I did an interview with the local tv station, WWL-TV, and we are hoping that once it airs, Tres will find the perfect forever family. He has such a compelling story.

In June we brought home the dachshund mixes, Lucy and Bernie, at 8-weeks-old, and that began the summer of pee and poo accidents! It was memorable. We thought it would never end. House training a single dog is easy. Training with a house full of dogs is a whole different thing! We used more Lysol wipes and paper towels this summer than a single family should ever use in a lifetime. We found out that puppy pads are great – for small puppies. Some of the big dogs thought they could go back to using them too. Not pretty.

I started fostering for a wonderful local rescue, Take Paws, and we helped Bruce, the suave Catahoula, Sasha the sultry Siberian Husky, and chipper little Chihuahua Whit find their forever homes. Whit started off terrified of my children, and we really worked with him a lot on overcoming his fears. I was so proud of my kid’s empathy, patience, and persistence. Whit took a lot of patience, and gave a lot of smiles. We eventually moved Whit to another foster without children, because I hated to see him scared, but he was quickly adopted after that. Yay!

One of my favorite rescues happened this summer. Sweet little Nola was a stray pup that followed a tourist and we welcomed him into our home until I could deliver him to his tourist in Ohio. He chose her. I took Nola and Bernie on my very first puppy road trip and it was so much fun. I don’t usually meet and speak with perfect strangers when I travel, but traveling with adorable puppies opens up a world of conversations with random strangers. It was so much fun!

Cocoa, our chocolate lab girl, joined us and just about pushed me to my limit. From the day she arrived, she vacillated from playful and happy to picking fights with other dogs. She was a bit of a wild thing. We loved her and did everything we could to help her decompress and keep her safe while she waited for her transport to Virginia. I have decided not to foster for the Virginia rescue any longer because it was too difficult getting them to communicate with me about the dogs. Fostering through adoption requires a tight knit team of volunteers, and sadly, some teams don’t work together as well as they could. The rescue decided to board Cocoa for her spay and recovery, because I was concerned about keeping her calm here. Females need extra healing time compared to males after being fixed. I didn’t want her or the other dogs to get hurt. Cocoa was very active and reactive and prone to mayhem with the other dogs. My first priority is to keep everyone safe. Have you ever had to break up a dogfight with 8 dogs? Not easy. They form teams.

The good news is that Cocoa is on her way north and has an adopter eagerly waiting to meet her in Virginia! She will be an only dog for now, which is perfect. Best of luck Cocoa!

As the summer is winding down, we have Hurricane Harvey hitting Texas and western LA is evacuating its animal shelters. We are prepared for a big rain event and flooding with this slow moving storm. I am ready to shelter in place or evacuate if things turn this way. The ground is saturated. This has been the wettest summer on record. New Orleans has pumps that aren’t working and catch basins that are clogged. Total SNAFU. Let’s pray this passes us by without incident. In the meantime, I am ready to help with evacuated dogs if necessary.

This past week we welcomed Murray, a beautiful 9-12 month old yellow lab who was stray, and last night we welcomed 8-week-old Rocky and Marshall to The Cecchine Hotel for Dogs. Here we go again with 8 dogs!

Murray is a full on, active, happy puppy. The first thing that I did was take him to the vet to be neutered. We hope he calms a bit without all of those pesky hormones. I was sad to find out that what I thought were dog fight wounds were actually BB and pellet wounds. This poor boy was shot repeatedly with different weapons. The vet removed a BB from his scrotum and a pellet from near his jugular. There are others still in him, including one between his toes on a rear paw. How could anyone ever do that to a dog? I will never understand. Murray will have a safe and happy home from now on. He is a great dog, a typical gregarious lab. He is happy and loves everyone.

As I write, Marshall and Rocky are asleep on my left. They are intimidated by the pack and so we have isolated them and we are bringing the other dogs in one at a time to meet and greet until they are comfortable. They are doing great for their first day away from momma. They kept their crate dry and slept all night. I’m in love with them and hoping they will be adopted quickly, because puppies this age are a lot of work! Also because there are so many more that we can save!

So, this summer we helped Henry, Tres, Cocoa, Murray, Rocky and Marshall. We completed Henry’s heartworm treatment and saw Tres through his surgery as well as a few spays and neuters here and there. We adopted out Lucy, Bernie, Sasha, Nola, Bruce and Whit. A dozen dogs–so far. I don’t think I’ve ever accomplished so much in one summer!

Room for one more…

It has been a busy, busy, house-full-of-dogs-summer. Gary has travelled for work, the kids have come and gone, travelling to see family as they do each summer, and I have stayed. Because, dogs. Last summer we had Pen. 1 dog. Now we have 8. There have been so many in need. I have said no to new dogs every week. We do what we can though! Meet 6-month-old Cocoa. Cocoa, along with her sister, was owner surrendered to Lu’s Labs. My Lu’s labs usually get transported to Virginia within 3 or 4 weeks, and I know they have potential adopters waiting for them. That makes it easier to say yes to one more.

Poor Cocoa. A car tragically killed her mother, and the owner found homes for two of her other puppy siblings. Lu’s has named the sisters Laverne and Shirley.  The owner had called her Cocoa. When I picked Cocoa up from the vet, she was scared and wouldn’t take a treat from my hand. I was told that she had not eaten, although she had been there more than 24 hours. She was stressed. She was afraid of the leash and had to be carried to the car. We had a 45-minute ride ahead of us, and Tres was already in the backseat. I had just picked him up from his physical therapy session. I put Cocoa in a harness and attached her in the front passenger seat. I made small talk with her. I sang, like I used to do to calm my resisting-sleep babies. Halfway through the ride home she sighed, licked my ear, and rested her head on my shoulder. It was a beginning.

We arrived home to the usual exuberant tail wagging welcome party, and Cocoa did pretty well. She got her much needed backyard bath without complaint and immediately latched on to Gary as her person. I tried, and failed, at not being jealous. I decided that training her to a new name (Shirley) would be unnecessarily stressful. we had enough work to do. Young puppies are re-namable, but the older the dog is, the more confusing it is for them.

Like Henry, our beagle foster, it was clear that Cocoa had not been an inside pet. Cocoa and her sister had been in a home near a freeway with no fence and they were allowed to roam freely, which wasn’t safe for them.

Cocoa did not come to us with any manners. This is where the pack comes in handy, they train the new guy every single time, and we step in to stop counter-surfing, inappropriate chewing, and that sort of thing. For the most part, we have been very lucky and this transition has gone smoothly with our fosters. The dogs are grateful to be here. They feel safe and loved.

Cocoa had a rough start.

She wasn’t sure of all these new rules, all of these new dogs, and where she fit in. She is a pretty big baby, only 6 months but the same size as my 2-year-old lab. We broke up a few scuffles each day until she settled down and knew her place.  The last thing we want is for one of the dogs to be hurt in a fight over food or a toy, or simply in a show of dominance.  Each dog has a crate that they can go to and be safe and left alone.  We feed them all in their crates, so they don’t have to protect their food while eating it. They need to feel safe. Cocoa did not have food or toy aggression, but she was getting all worked up and we couldn’t tell why. She wasn’t eating well either. We had to try different ways to feed her: in a crate, out of a crate, by hand. She was just stressed. She cried in her crate at night. It turns out Cocoa is a lay-in-your-lap-like-a-baby lab. This girl would love to sleep in bed with her humans, but we have too many dogs to even consider that. She cried it out a few nights and now goes to sleep in her crate without a fuss.

All dogs need to decompress when they go into foster homes. They often come from bad situations and they have had to deal with a lot of abrupt changes. We don’t always know what they need, what they have faced in their pasts. We give them space to relax and get healthy and become the wonderful pets that adopters are looking for. They have to feel safe and trusting, which is a lot to ask of a dog that’s been let down by humans. I am constantly amazed by their resilience. This amazing thing happens with dogs, they let you into their hearts and they love you unconditionally. It is one of the most rewarding parts of rescue and fostering.

I was so happy when we finally saw her playing joyfully with the other dogs. That is what we are all about. We want happy, healthy, safe dogs.

Cocoa has made a wonderful transition. She gets along with everyone. She still won’t eat in her crate, so she goes into a separate room and eats with Gary standing by. If he leaves, she stops eating and follows him. We don’t know why, but we are working with her. The important thing is that she is safe and happy.

She is beautiful and we are so happy that we got her through the rough days.

Is it just me, or is she possibly Scooby-Doo’s long lost daughter?

Could be. She is far more beautiful though. Cocoa has settled in and settled down and she is just the sweetest girl. She is going to make her forever family very happy.  Cocoa will be transported by volunteers to Virginia in a few weeks and will be available for adoption through Lu’s Labs.  Lu’s Labs adopts out within a 5-hour drive from the Washington DC area.