MOUNTAIN AREA – So you’re driving along minding your own business, eyes on the road, hands at 10 and 2, not texting or eating a sandwich, and you get caught up in an accident and are whisked away to the hospital.
Or you suffer some type of medical episode, and end up in the emergency room.
That scenario is bad enough, but if you live alone, there’s something no one will know if you’re unable to communicate — you have pets at home with no one to care for them… feed them, let them out to answer the call of nature, or relieve their anxiety that suddenly they’re all alone.
Monika Lain-Shaw of Sierra Cares deals with dozens of animals every day, but a recent incident that sent a local resident to the ICU put this problem front-and-center in her mind.
Monika was on the scene of a crash that left four dogs temporarily orphaned. She didn’t know the person involved in the accident, but could tell by the cage and other items in the vehicle that this person had pets who, through no fault of their own, had been left to fend for themselves.
She worked with emergency responders to gain access to the home, then played with the dogs, fed them, let them out to do their business, and coordinated with a local breeder, the tow truck driver, the handyman, some neighbors, and a friend to pick them up and provide care until other arrangements could be made, or the owner is able to return home.
“It was really a joint effort with a lot of people knowing she had dogs and making sure they were safe,” said Monika.
The hounds actually had shredded a bag of dog food and fed themselves, she says, but they could not reach the cookies.
“All four of them showed me where the cookies were so I could help out with that problem,” said Monika, who saw this as a teaching and learning moment.
“This inspired me to update my emergency information, and also to post a list in my house of what animals I have, and what friends may be available to care for them if I were in an accident,” says Monika. “It hadn’t occurred to me before this happened.”
She also found a great article, posted on petfinder.com, that is full of helpful ideas for preparing for this eventuality. If you have pets, and there is not always someone else in your home to take over their care in the event of an emergency, this is a must-read.
“Because pets usually have shorter life spans than their human caregivers, you may have planned for your animal friend’s passing. But what if you are the one who becomes ill or incapacitated, or who dies first? As a responsible pet owner, you provide your pet with food and water, shelter, veterinary care, and love. To ensure that your beloved pet will continue to receive this care should something unexpected happen to you, it’s critical to plan ahead. This information sheet helps you do just that…” (read more)