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We’ve discussed pet care during emergency situations in prior columns in the past, but never has there been such an ubiquitous threat as COVID to any and all of us.

Do you have a plan if you suddenly become too ill to care for your pet? Or, if you are designated as someone else’s pet caretaker, are you fully prepared for the job?

I was jolted into the reality of what it is to be the backup when a friend of mine that had been fighting the virus at home finally became too weak to care for her dog. I am the emergency caretaker, which I’ve known all along, but it really hit home when the dog, literally and figuratively, landed in my lap.


I consider myself fortunate because I have pretty much every advantage with this situation; I have known the dog all his life, I am very dog savvy, I know his lifestyle, daily routine, what he eats, his veterinary history and his quirks.

The disadvantages are actually all his in this case, in that he only knows me as someone that visits briefly every couple of weeks. He lives in a tiny town, in a small house, with an elderly lady, with no other pets and the most excitement in his life consists of short walks up the street or a few minutes out on his runner. In my care, he would be in a big house with a big fenced in yard, big dogs, little dogs, cats, people and the general craziness that goes along with that type of household. Bottom line, I wish I had prepared him more because this has been a sudden and shocking experience for him.

Regardless of whether you are the caretaker or the one preparing a plan for your own pets in the event that you become unable to care for them, let’s go over the basics.

First of all, there’s no evidence that people can get COVID-19 from pets. The best place for your animal is inside the home they know and love. If you become ill, but are still able to care for your pet, the best thing for both of you is to keep him, her or them with you.

It’s very important that you don’t wait until illness or some other disaster is upon you to identify someone who can help if you are hospitalized or become too ill to care for your pet.

Reach out now to your neighbors, friends, coworkers or family members who could temporarily take them in. Many boarding facilities remain open and also may be able to provide care. The most important thing you can do today is have that conversation with whoever it is that would care for your pet.

Even if it’s just a couple days of supplies with the brands of the food clearly marked, that will be a tremendous help for whoever steps in.

  • Name and contact information for the person who can care for your pet.
  • Name and contact information for a back-up in case your first contact is no longer able to help.
  • Food and treats.
  • A leash and harness, if applicable.
  • Toys, a bed, and blankets.
  • A crate or carrier to transport your pet.
  • Vaccination records and contact information for your veterinary clinic.
  • Collars with identification tags (and remember to update your pet’s microchip information).
  • Medications and prescriptions with instructions.
  • Daily care instructions.

Your pets depend on you so stay safe, mask up, get on the vaccine list if you can figure out how to get on it, and then hope they don’t cancel on you!

Shelter needs: Canned dog food, soft treats for dogs, real cheese slices, plain yogurt, cream cheese, hot dogs, paper towels, isopropyl alcohol, and gift cards for pet supply and grocery outlets.

To submit an adoption form for one of the Pets of the Week or another animal at the shelter, visit

Source: South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter: Make a plan for care of your pet, just in case

Posted in 2021, SJRAS Articles