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Disaster-proof your pet

Have you thought about what you’d do with your animals if a disaster hits?

You might want to turn to Jo Becker of Oregon City, who has spent nearly a decade studying disaster preparedness and emergency response.

Her self-imposed coursework has spanned basic online and intensive weeklong FEMA courses. She’s trained in everything from fire safety to explosives and weapons of mass destruction; from first aid to sheltering operations.

Following her passion, Becker, 40, volunteered for two national emergency animal missions, once with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (“Volunteers help Sandy’s four-legged victims recover,” Jan 2, 2013) and once with the Humane Society (“OC resident helps dog-fighting victims,” April 1). She also has developed presentations on the subject (“OC resident sharing animal-rescue karma,” Sept. 16, 2013).

“The response to those initial classes was incredible,” Becker said. “Over 200 people registered for those classes and, in the end, well over 100 attended, and those who came were hungry for more.”

After offering these three free community classes in Clackamas County, Becker reached out to Portland Community College’s Community Education Program to lead an Animals in Jeopardy class. Becker was pleased to find PCC’s program coordinator receptive to adding an animal aspect to the more general preparedness courses offered.

“It won’t be all doom and gloom. We’ll approach this serious topic in an entertaining way with stories and examples, as well as a game of Jeopardy, hence the name of the class,” Becker said.

If you’re one of the 62 percent of Americans with a pet, you should be thinking about what you would do with your animals in an emergency. In the American Animal Hospital Association’s 2004 survey, 93 percent of animal owners said they would risk their own life for their pet.

“This puts animals, owners, our professional first responders (such as fire and police personnel and the broader community at risk,” Becker said.

Even if you don’t have animals of your own, it’s more than likely someone you know does, she said, and you may find yourself dealing with animals. She should know, too, because last summer Becker and her neighbors corralled a loose bull in their neighborhood.

Ready for that inevitable disaster?

What: Jo Becker’s Animals in Jeopardy class

When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, May 17

Where: PCC’s Southeast Center at 82nd Avenue and Division Street

How: To register for the $29 class, visit pcc.edu/schedule

More: Becker also offers free information, resource links and online presentations on preparing animals for disaster at jobecker.weebly.com.