Animal Control officer Jennifer Matison with some community pets at a recent event. Photo courtesy city of Kirkland

Animal Control officer Jennifer Matison with some community pets at a recent event. Photo courtesy city of Kirkland

New Kirkland class teaches how to prepare for an emergency with pets

On Jan. 29, Kirkland Emergency Management is offering Emergency Preparedness for Pets.

On Jan. 29, from 6-7 p.m., Kirkland Emergency Management is offering Emergency Preparedness for Pets, a free class at City Hall.

Animal control officer Jennifer Matison will be leading the event. Though animal-specific pointers will be the chief focus of the event, other relevant information will be touched on, including general household tips.

“A lot of these tips are going to be very applicable to those situations where you’re at home without power, or you’re just at home and can’t go anywhere for multiple days,” said city communications program manager Kellie Stickney.

Kirkland’s Office of Emergency Management offers regular classes on a variety of topics, according to emergency preparedness coordinator Karissa Smith. But over time, Smith said, the office has gotten more questions from community members noting that while they might be ready for an emergency at home, they aren’t as sure about animal-centric considerations.

“That’s kind of where the initial input idea for it came, was just to answer that question from the community as part of our regular offerings,” Smith said.

Although the class coming to City Hall is technically the first of its kind, the event has roots in 2019. At one point last year, Matison was asked by a neighborhood association to do a brief, pet-oriented class.

At the upcoming class, Matison will be the primary speaker, with Smith in attendance to help answer additional audience questions.

“We kind of take the approach that your entire household needs to be prepared, and that includes all members of the household,” said Smith, who added that there will be a mixture of preparedness concerns for everybody. “Things to expect in our community that you might need to be prepared for and then we’ll transition into more specific considerations and some of the services that we have specific for pets and animals in Kirkland.”

Smith added that it’s likely that this will be the sole instance this event will be publicly offered this year.

Stickney said that since this is the first time the class has been offered community-wide, it’s unclear how many residents will attend. But she hopes that it draws a crowd, since it seems like winter storm events are happening with increasing regularity.

“We know, especially in a large-scale emergency such as an earthquake, it may take quite a long period of time before emergency responders or other kinds of aid are able to get to our neighborhoods,” Stickney said. “So the more people prepare themselves, the better the chance you have of being resilient through a large-scale emergency.”

To register for the class, go to www.kirklandwa.gov/prepclasses.

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