You never know when you will have a family emergency, or Superstorm Sandy will strike, or your pet will become sick at the most inconvenient time. Just as parents plan ahead for children, pet parents need to make arrangements for the worst case scenario. Here is a list of preparations that I would recommend, and it would be even better to answer this list and share a copy with a neighbor or family member who can look in on your pet in an emergency.
1. Name of your regular veterinarian and the closest emergency/ after-hours/ specialty referral hospital
2. Name of pet sitter, family member, or friend who can take care of your pet if you become ill, have to leave town for an emergency, or just need someone to pet sit on the spur of the moment. Also make arrangements ahead of time for method of payment if your pet’s caretaker needs to take your pet to the veterinarian, groomer, or boarding facility.
3. Name of car service that allows animals in case your pet has an emergency that requires a trip to the emergency clinic. Already having this information handy will save you time and worry if you don’t have a car and need to make decisions and transport your pet quickly to a nearby facility.
4. Put a list on your refrigerator or in a prominent place that details what food your pet eats, where you purchase this food (especially important if this is a prescription diet), any food allergies your pet has, and any medications that it takes. Also, make sure you have something in which to transport your pet. During a natural disaster, if your pet has to be placed in a temporary shelter, it will need to be in a carrier, not just on a leash.
5. Lastly, even though no one wants to think about it, there is a possibility that something may happen to you at some point leaving your pet in limbo. It’s a good idea to arrange for someone you trust, and who your pet knows, to agree to take your pet in case you are unable to care for it. We see so many pets that are taken to shelters because an owner has died, had to be put in a special care facility, or had to move and can’t take the pet with them. Rehoming a pet, for whatever reason, becomes harder as an animal gets older, so please make plans in advance to take care of your pet under any circumstances.