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07.24.09

Preparing for Pet Emergencies

Our pets are more than just animals; they are members of our families. We rely on our pets for companionship just as they rely on us for love and care. When a pet dies or gets injured we are often left in a state of panic and chaos.

"No one wants to think about the possibility of something awful happening to their pet," states Lucy Wendt, a registered veterinary technician at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, "but planning ahead and being prepared can help a person function in a state of shock or stress."

Having a plan of action in case your pet is somehow injured can not only help you get through the situation, it could potentially save your animal's life. Wendt recommends keeping multiple copies of your pet's background information, vaccination records, medical history, as well as the phone numbers of your veterinarian and nearby animal hospital in a convenient and accessible place. If the animal hospital closest to you is not open, make sure you have the number and location of the nearest 24-hour facility. This way, in the event of an emergency, you can get to the documents and have the information you will need at your fingertips. This will save precious time that could help to save your pet's life.

Having copies of the documents can also come in handy when you are leaving your pet in the care of someone else.

"When you are leaving your pet, think of it as leaving your child," adds Wendt "What would you do if you had to leave them and give their care to someone else?"

Make sure you leave the caretaker with a set of the above referenced documents as well as a few additional important papers. Include a written affidavit that gives them permission to obtain medical treatment in case of an emergency, phone numbers of where you will be and how to get in touch with you, and the information of a place where your pet could be boarded if needed.

If you are traveling and decide to take your pet with you, Wendt suggests get the information for the closest emergency animal clinic to your destination. Twenty minutes is the farthest travel time you should allow for veterinary clinics and animal hospitals.

Also, take a copy of your 'in case of emergency documents' as well a few additional important papers. If you are flying, make sure you have the animal's health certificate. If you are driving out of state have a certified copy of your pet's rabies vaccination certificate.

We can prepare for emergencies, but we cannot control their outcome. If your pet dies or suffers irreversible injuries and must be put to sleep, knowing your options ahead of time can help ease the situation.

"If you have a place to bury your pet, do so," recommends Wendt. If you do not have the land, physical ability, or emotional strength needed to bury your pet, or you would prefer to have the animal cremated, your veterinary clinic should have the contact information of a pet burial and cremation facility that can assist you.

"A person can plan all they want but no one is ever ready when their pet faces an emergency situation or dies. Not only is it stressful, it is devastating," explains Wendt. Though nothing can prepare us for these situations, having a plan of action can help you function during traumatic events. Talk with your veterinarian about your emergency plans. Maintaining a good relationship with your veterinarian, through the good times and the bad, is extremely important for both you and your pet.

About Pet Talk

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to editor@cvm.tamu.edu.

Angela G. Clendenin
Director, Communications & Public Relations
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Cell - (979) 739-5718



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