When her California neighbors lost their beloved family dog to a house fire in 1989, Camy Thumwood thought about her own pets — three cats she considered part of her family — and what might happen to them in a similar circumstance.
Thumwood immediately began talking to her local fire departments to come up with new disaster safeguards for family pets.
“At first, I was put through the ringer. I would come up with something and they would come up with some excuse why it couldn’t be done,” said Thumwood. “But they took me under their wing and I learned their protocol.”
Now, after 20 years of extensive research, working in tandem with veterinarians, fire departments and other branches of emergency services, Thumwood has published the “Guide to Pet Safety,” a comprehensive reference manual for pet owners.
“Pets are considered to be part of the family unit … and general knowledge is so important to safeguard your pet,” she explained.
Thumwood’s guide contains information on everyday household hazards, poisonous plants, emergency preparedness kits, first aid for pets in distress, taking vital signs and much more.
“If you’re a pet owner, you should know all of this — just like, if you’re a parent, you know how to keep your kids safe.”
Thumwood is also the creator of the Pet Alert Emergency Information System, a kit launched in the early ’90s that received national media attention. The kit provides pet owners with a fire department-approved door hanger listing each pet in the household, along with photos and vital statistics.
Her book is actually an extension of Pet Alert.
“I took me 15 years worth of accumulated research … and started compiling it and condensing it,” she said.
Thumwood checked all of her information with friends at fire departments, and got help with medical information from Dr. Kyle Christiansen at Cedar Animal Hospital in Richmond Hill.
“Everything in this book is in simple terms,” she said. “It’s for emergencies and it’s a ‘what to do’ and ‘how to do it quickly’ reference manual.”
The guide’s Table of Contents is printed on bright yellow paper, with important sections highlighted in red, so that information can be found quickly and easily in an emergency.
“If I save one pet’s life, that’s the purpose for the book, but I’m hoping to save a whole lot more.”
Thumwood’s book is available for purchase at www.petalert.com or Cedar Animal Hospital.