Design a Pet Crisis Plan in 5 Easy Steps

What happens when we aren’t there to care for the animals in our lives? Furry four-legged friends, winged companions, and even water and sand creatures deserve to be cared for when we can’t provide that care. Having a pet crisis plan is ideal to make sure they get the care they need in time of need. These 5 easy steps will help you design a pet crisis plan in no time. 

One – Find a Caretaker for Your Pet

In the unfortunate event you happen to become too ill or hospitalized, knowing your beloved pet is in good hands will be one less worry while you work to recover. If you have family in the house who already shares in this responsibility then this step is covered. 

However, many homes are a household of one or there may be multiple people in a home who may be fighting an illness simultaneously. In those situations, having a pet crisis plan set up with a list of alternative care providers is vital. Think of people in your life who may be able to be your hero such as:

Church Family
Club Members

Other options would include:

Pet Boarding House
Hire a Pet Caretaker
Temporary Pet Foster Family

It’s a good idea to have three options picked out; one as the first choice and the others as a backup in the event your first choice isn’t available. 

Temporary Pet Caregiver in a Crisis

Your puppy can be in good hands — one less thing to worry about in a crisis. Remember to pack their favorite toys and belongings.

Two – Update Pet Information

Being able to pass on the most current and accurate information about your pets is important in passing the torch for their care. 

Call your veterinarian and make sure they have the most current contact information for you and the emergency contacts you’ve chosen above. Make sure the pets microchip (if applicable) is also set with the most current information. 

Go ahead and ask your veterinarian about vaccinations to be sure they are also up to date. If so, get a copy of those vaccinations for your records. If not, and appointments are available, now’s the time to get those current. 

Remember to update any ID tag your pet might wear with current contact information.

Three – Prepare a Pet Care Kit

Having a bag packed with the essentials makes for an easy hand-off and will provide some of the comforts of home for your pet. Items to include in your pet care kit should include: 

Pet Food
Favorite Treats
Leashes, collars, and harnesses
Pet toys
Blanket and/or pet bed
Crate, carrier, or cage

In addition to the items to make your pet comfy, your helper will need some support as well. Be sure to include these items in your pet care kit: 

Veterinarian contact information
Vaccination records
Medications with detailed instructions
Care instructions 

Four – Tell Others Your Pet Crisis Plan

You can spread the word about your emergency pet care wishes in many different ways. First and foremost, tell those in your circle about your pet crisis plan so they don’t needlessly worry.  

Tell Your Landlord
In addition to informing your friends and family, if you are renting, remember to tell your landlord. Your property manager will typically maintain emergency contact information in your file. They also likely have information that you are a pet owner. Making sure they know your pet crisis plan may be very helpful in the event of an emergency or disaster. 

Post Door and Window Decals
Easy to make yourself or purchase on the internet, window and door decals are available to let others know that there may be a pet in the home unattended in need of help during a disaster or emergency. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals (ASPCA) offers free rescue window decals and Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) magnet available here: ASPCA Free Pet Safety Pack

Carry a Wallet Card
Having a card in your wallet or purse for your emergency information is vital. But just as important would be to carry a card dedicated to the information needed to care for your pet in the event of an emergency. 

Draft Legal Documents
Estate planning should include information and provisions for the pets in your care. 

Five – Plan for What Comes Next

If all goes well, then it’s time for a happy reunion. Coordinate the transitioning of your beloved pet back home is important. Consider the timing, the state of your home if there was a disaster, your health and well-being when making your decision on when to bring your pets home. 

Cats, dogs, and some other animals can become temperamental, act-out, or become depressed with change.

Remember to stock up on pet food and treats, perhaps get a new toy, and give your pet time and space to re-acclimate. They may be confused as to why you’ve been gone, became used to the temporary care-takers home, or just aren’t good with change. Patience is needed. 

In large natural disasters and other times of crisis, sometimes pets get separated from their owners or caregivers. In the event you need help finding a lost pet, contact your local animal shelters. And of course, call friends and neighbors and put up fliers in your neighborhood. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) offers this helpful printable flyer: Disaster Prep Missing Pet Flyer

If you are no longer able to care for your pet, your temporary pet caregiver might agree to take on the responsibility long term as their new owner. If not, consider finding someone who fosters animals or better yet, wanting to adopt a pet. Check with your local animal shelters, use social media outlets, or other online resources to match your pet with their new forever family.  

In a worst-case scenario, loved ones can turn to your estate planning documents to find out your wishes such as who you’ve named as the new pet owner and what funds you’ve set aside for the care of your animals. Check with your estate attorney to discuss the exact types of provisions available for the care of your pets.

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Pet Preparedness Resource Roundup

Housepets, service animals, therapy pet and emotional support animals, and even farm and ranch animals have an important role in society and in the lives of those that care for them. Putting a pet crisis plan together for them is just another way to give back to them for all they give to us.