Scenario: your house is on fire. You are out, at work or running errands. The home alarm system or an alert neighbor notifies emergency services and fire trucks are dispatched to your residence to manage the blaze that is your home.
The What If: you have companion animals in the home but Firefighters and Police are unaware of this fact. What if your fur babies are hiding somewhere in the house. What if they are suffering from smoke inhalation or injuries or are just too terrified to come out of hiding. What if the fact that emergency staff focus solely on the facts as they know them while the effects of smoke and fire take their toll on your pet. What if by the time the firefighters or police officers are made aware that there are pets in the home it’s too late. What if this breaks your heart beyond repair because you can always rebuild a house but nothing will bring your pets back.
The Precaution: in an alternate scenario, the same emergency situation plays out, police officers and firefighters arrive on the scene. As they approach your home, someone sees the sign you have wisely placed on the back and front doors. The sign alerting emergency services that companion animals reside in the home. That a cat and a dog or bird and hamster or rabbit or frog and their names are in that house somewhere.
The Scenario: you are in a car accident or suffer a heart attack. Unconscious, you are rushed to hospital for treatment. It could be hours before you are revived.
The What If: your emergency contact persons are unreachable. The hospital staff will continue attempts to alert your friends and family however your care is priority one. No one is aware that your pets are home alone waiting for you to get there. They need food, water and where dogs are involved, in need of a let out.
The Precaution: a business card in your wallet that identifies the fact that you have companion animals at home that require attention. This is especially important for people that live alone. The business card identifies the type of animal and their name. You have an emergency contact specifically for this kind of situation listed on the card. They have a key to your home and your entry code.
The Result: your pets will receive the care they need until such time as you recover sufficiently to return to your home.
It is not uncommon for these animals to come into rescue in hopes of finding new homes. Sometimes these pets have had to fend for themselves in the sudden absence of their owners. Sometimes a friend or family member will step up to take in a displaced pet. Often times the pets will end up in shelters because there was no plan in place for them if they survived their owner.
In addition to posting emergency information in your home and carrying pet emergency cards in your purse or wallet, please consider a will of sorts to ensure the care and safety of your pets in the event the worst happens. Important items to consider are the dependability of the person you chose to care for your pets post mortem, as well as the provision of funds to the designated care giver. Please have conversations with the person or persons involved prior to committing their names to a legal document.