ALBANY -- Did you ever wonder what you should do if your pet has a medical emergency?
The American Red Cross is poised to answer that question this weekend by presenting a pet first-aid class.
The three-hour course will be held from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at Magnolia Pet Spa and Resort, located at 628 Fussell Road.
Registration is $50. It includes training materials and a stocked first-aid kit for pets.
According to American Red Cross Southwest Georgia Chapter Executive Director Mari Wright, it's an essential class for pet owners.
"One of the things it does is prepare people for emergencies," she said.
According to Albany veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Daniel of Dockery, Williams, Odom and Deriso Veterinarians, that preparation includes beneficial knowledge.
"It's to teach people how to provide emergency care without harming the animal," she said, "and also to protect themselves."
While the course will teach participants to help any animal, pets most common in Southwest Georgia will be the main focus of the day.
"It's mainly for dogs and cats," Daniel said.
The class, Wright pointed out, is the animal-equivalent of first-aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation classes the Red Cross teaches to prepare for human emergencies.
"It's all a Red Cross certified course," she said.
Daniel explained that the workshop will also include practicing CPR on Casper, a canine-equivalent of the "Annie" doll.
"It's a lecture-type class with hands-on training," the veterinarian said.
Plus, participants will gain skills in recognizing what to do if their pet is injured in an accident.
"One of the most common things we see is when a pet is hit by a car," Daniel said.
And most Southwest Georgians are at a loss when that happens.
"I had a lady call the other day who said, 'My dog was hit by a car, and I didn't know what to do,'" Wright said.
Other emergencies covered will include taking care of your dog if it has been in a fight or if it chokes on a toy or bone, as well as if a pet fractures a bone or gets a laceration.
"Two things we see most often in Southwest Georgia, especially in the summer, are snake bite and heat stroke," Daniel said.
"We have tremendously hot summers," Wright added.
The course will also cover what to do if a pet suddenly gets ill, suffering from such symptoms as vomiting, diarrhea or lethargy. In addition, the class gives advice on what to do with a pet if a natural disaster occurs.
In addition to the training, participants will also receive an indexed reference guide to emergencies their pet might encounter.
"They (Red Cross) have a really great reference guide," Daniel said.
The idea for Saturday's class first came about a few months ago.
"We started talking about it before the holidays," Wright said of the collaboration among Red Cross, Daniel and Magnolia Pet Spa and Resort.
But its origin actually came out of a need that was discovered in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which left many displaced in the New Orleans and Gulf Port, Miss., areas in 2005.
"The Red Cross is very important with natural disasters, helping people get back on their feet," Daniel said. "But we found out that people really aren't prepared about what to do with their pet if there's an emergency or a natural disaster."
Since then, the organization began developing programs to fill that void.
"We started stocking pet first-aid kits," Wright said of the Albany Red Cross chapter.
Once that was in place, the pet first-aid class evolved.
"My thought is Red Cross teaches preparedness," Wright said. "This is one more step."
For more information about pet first-aid, visit www.redcross.org. To register for Saturday's course, call (229) 436-4845.