The month of June is known as National Pet Preparedness Month in the pet community. There are many different types of preparedness themes throughout the year, and June celebrates being prepared as a whole. The way I see it, there are two types of people in the world, ones that are prepared and ones that fly by the seat of their pants. Neither type of person is necessarily “right”, but who would you rather be with when a SHTF(Sh*t Hits The Fan) moment happens, a person who is prepared or someone that is running around wondering what to do and how to overcome it? Let’s talk about some most common situations we should be thinking about and preparing for when it comes to our pets. But, it’s not all doom and gloom! By the end of this article, you should feel refreshed and have some proper tools to be prepared for the future.
There is a recent trend that comes across people’s minds when talking about preparedness, more of a fad recently, regarding zombies. We are not talking about that scenario, so no getting excited or offended by that! Let’s focus on some “real life” situations that could potentially happen in the near future. Just like you should have a family plan in case something significant happens, you should have one concerning your pets too! After all, most would argue that they are part of the family as well!
Are We Prepared?
So the question that no one really likes to think about is are we really prepared if something substantial suddenly happens that we didn’t see coming? This could be anything:
- Natural disasters.
- Family emergency with a loved one.
- Sudden unrest in your community. (OK zombie fans, maybe zombies could count in this category)
- What happens if you couldn’t make it home one day? Or for a period of time?
- If it’s primarily you in the household, do you have a plan if something happens to you?
- If you are an older person– do you have a plan on what happens to your pet if you were suddenly hospitalized or worse yet, pass away?
- If someone suddenly broke into your house and you needed to leave NOW, what would you do?
- If you awoke in the middle of the night to a house fire, what would you do?
- If you were informed you needed to evacuate the area within an hour, what would you do?
- What about something even more “simple” or likely to happen sooner than the other items already mentioned- are you prepared if your pet gets really sick?
Unfortunately, all of the above examples can and do happen to folks more often than not in their lives. Having a plan of action, even if it’s a rough idea of what to do, can help determine if you and your pet make it out of the situation without any harm. There is never a wrong time to be thinking about any of the situations above. Let’s go through some of them together.
Natural disasters happen frequently, depending on what part of the world you live in. This could be anything from a flash flood or mudslide to a volcano eruption, hurricane, earthquake, or tornado. Get familiar with the geographical area and community you live in to see what types of natural disasters might be likely for your area. This can help get you thinking about how you can respond if one were to happen. From there, talk to local authorities about how the community is set up to respond in Natural Disaster situations. Many organizations, such as your local animal shelter, already have a plan in place if something were to happen. Be familiar with their plans so you can formulate your own specific plan for your family.
Family Emergencies, or Other Reasons You Might Not Come Home Tonight …
This is overall a very broad idea of events but please think about it. What if you got a call that your parent was in the hospital with a life-threatening situation? What if that parent doesn’t live in the same area that you do? Or, what if you are in a situation at home where it primarily is just you and your pets? My husband travels for work and is gone more than 50% of the time in any given month. Luckily, most of the time I can predict when he will be around, but not always. Or, maybe you are single or live by yourself. What were to happen to your pet if you suddenly couldn’t come home that night, whether it be you need to suddenly leave town, maybe stuck at work for a double shift, or something happens to you health-wise and you physically can’t get home for a period of time?
If you mostly live like a single person, these scenarios are things to think about if you have pets in the household. Pets depend on us for everything and are even more helpless than children! Come up with an action plan for all the types of scenarios just mentioned. Do you have a neighbor that could pop in and out if needed to check on the pets? Friends that don’t mind jumping in? Maybe develop a relationship with someone you trust that can be a back-up pet sitter if anything were to happen. Develop a “phone tree” with your close neighbors so you can contact each other when needed. If you are a single person, think about if you suffer a medical emergency, it wouldn’t hurt to put some sort of card in your wallet or purse that explains you have a pet at home that needs you, and what to do if you are medically unable to get to them.
Sudden Threats to You, or Sudden Unrest in Your Community
What would you do if someone suddenly broke into your house? I know it is a broad statement and doesn’t happen too often, but still a good idea to think about. What if that person wasn’t after your Xbox, but for whatever reason wants to come after you? What if you are suddenly awakened by your smoke alarm, and it’s not a false alarm? How are you going to suddenly leave the house? What will happen to your pets? Likewise, what if you receive notice by authorities that you have less than one hour to evacuate your house, due to some sort of event expected to happen? Furthermore, what would you do if you were driving home one night and you come to the beginning of the neighborhood to find it has been taped off by the police or other authorities, allowing no entry?
While all of these events are not something that happens every day, you may come across at least one of the events at one point in your life, especially if you reside in an area where the weather can be unpredictable. Have a plan of action as well as a “go box” or “go bag” (also called bug-out bag) available to access quickly if you were to suddenly need to leave your house with no idea of when you may be able to return. Experts used to suggest packing enough essentials in your go bag to be able to survive 72 hours, but lately, folks are suggesting to have your go-bags contents packed enough to last you up to one week. What items are most essential, “can’t live without” items that you would need in a week of time if you cannot get to your house? Those items should be in your go-bag. I have a whole other article on this topic, so check it out!
If you or a loved one is elderly and has pets, have you thought about what happens to the pet if the elderly person suffers from a life-changing medical event, or worse yet, suddenly passes away? Pets on average live for 10-15 years, sometimes longer. What if this elderly person, unfortunately, is terminally ill? Have you thought about what will happen to the pet? What would happen if an elderly person suddenly needs to be moved to a nursing home? Although it sounds morbid, these are all things to consider and discuss if you or your loved one is elderly. Even if they are perfectly healthy, it is even a better time to discuss what they would wish to do for their pets if something were to happen to them. That way, if a situation comes up, you or your loved ones are not suddenly wondering what to do with the pet as this can be a very stressful situation for both you and the pet!
In reality, the more common thing to happen, more so than any of the other topics discussed so far, is what would happen if your pet were to suddenly get sick or injured. It is important to be prepared and think about this, as when your pets get older this could be a reality. If you have an active pet that’s curious and into mischief, getting sick or having an accident could happen sooner rather than later. What if your kids answered the door and the dog, being very excited, sees something they want to chase and bolts out the front door and into the street, in front of a car? What if you and your dog were hiking and another animal approaches your dog aggressively and hurts your dog? What if your dog has a habit of eating strange things? What if your cat suddenly comes down with kidney failure? Have you and/or your spouse/significant other/family members involved thought about what to do if your pet were to get very sick or injured? What would this do to your family emotionally, or financially? You will suddenly have to face some timely and important decisions to make about your pet.
If your pet were to be hospitalized, you could easily be looking at a veterinary bill of over $1000.00. Are you prepared for that? What would you do? A vast majority of veterinary clinics do not take payment plans, do you have the funding available to treat your pet? Or, what if your dog was hit by a car and even if you were financially prepared, the medical outcome is not looking good? The veterinarian is asking you if you would like them to resuscitate your dog. What are you and/or your families’ beliefs on that? Having both a financial and a spiritual/emotional plan involving your pet’s care is very important and although it might not make decisions any easier emotionally, having a plan will help the process go more smoothly.
Being financially prepared sometimes takes the stress and guilt off of making the decision about what to do. I have a line item in my budget that includes PetCare expenses, aside from everyday items such as pet food. Some people have a credit card devoted to pet care if needed. Others have an emergency fund saved up for their pets. Pet health insurance can also help offset the financial sting of a sick pet situation. Do the planning and research on what works best for you financially to be prepared, and think about your beliefs so that you can be as emotionally prepared as possible when (not if) something happens to your pet.
Action Plans Can Save Lives
Overall, whether it be a natural disaster, a life event, or a sick pet, having a plan of action will make it easier to deal with the stressful situation, and could also save you and your pets’ lives. Brainstorm some ideas now so that there will not be as much stress if something happens to you in the future. I am a huge planner. No matter if I am hosting an event or even just going on vacation, I like to have plans of how it’s going to go down, what we are going to do, etc. even before the time of the event. Some may call me a control freak, worrier, maybe a little obsessive, whatever. I know I am not the only one with this type of personality! Folks with personalities like mine tend to get a little uneasy when something unexpected happens, so if you have a plan in place for unplanned events, this will give you (or even your worry-wart loved ones) a little more peace of mind. Happy planning!