It was all fun and games at Pet Prepardness Day at the Ashland/Boyd County Dog Park on Saturday, but the message was serious.

Organizers of the event used activities to educate pet owners about the importance of being prepared in case of an emergency.

Cassie Montgomery, the training coordinator for the Greenup County Health Department and a member of the Northeast Kentucky Citizen Corps Council, said the event was to get people thinking about ways to become prepared.

“The idea is if something happens, of course we’re going to take care of people, but the pets, too,” she said.

September was National Preparedness Month and Homeland Security groups worked to coordinate events to help people become more prepared in case of emergency. Pet prepardness is being stressed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency after many pets were abandoned or injured in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita last year.

Students involved in Student Technical Leadership Programs at Russell-McDowell Intermediate School and Oakview Elementary School helped during the event, operating games and staffing booths.

Susie Daniel, library media specialist and STLP coordinator at Russell-McDowell, said the activity was chosen for a community outreach project because “we thought it was an important project. Everyone should be prepared for an emergency.

“We were wanting our children to be involved in a community service project and we wanted to collaborate between two school districts.”

Kim Clayton, guidance counselor and STLP coordinator at Oakview, said she chose to participate in the event because she knew the students would relate to the project.

“Kids as well as adults love pets,” she said. “It seems a lot of time kids are more tender-hearted toward pets. We knew they would be excited.”

“We wanted them as children, as they become pet owners, to be responsible pet owners,” Daniel added.

In addition to educating the public, the students also used the event to broaden their technology skills.

Students from both schools used the event as a story for their closed-circuit news broadcasts, Daniel said. “This is a newsworthy event in the real world. It ties what they’re learning in school to the real world.”

Andrea Lewis of Gallipolis said she often brings her two cocker spaniels, Chanel and Jennings, to the dog park. She said making sure she had a prepardness plan for her pets in case of an emergency is not something she had thought about before.

“I think after being here I will go home and put a first-aid kit together,” she said.

Kathy Rhoden of Greenup said she’s already taken steps to make sure her pets are taken care of in an emergency.

“We’ve tried to put stickers in the windows for the firemen so they know we have pets inside,” she said. “It’s the same with your kids. You want to make sure they are safe. My kids and my pet, everything else can be replaced.”

But Rhoden said the event made her realize she needed to do more

“I think building the kit would be a good idea. If you have to leave right now you can grab that little container,” she said.

CARRIE KIRSCHNER can be reached at ckirschner@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.

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