Emergency Directive for your Pet
What if a medical problem arises while your animal is in someone else’s care? Do they have clear instructions about what to do, who to call, who is your veterinarian?
What if they cannot get hold of you and the situation is severe enough that a decision on care or even worse, a decision on humane euthanasia needs to be made?
Consider some of the following questions:
Do you have a dog walker caring for your pet while you are at work?
Do you hire a pet/barn/house sitter to care for your animals when you take a trip?
Do you board your pet when you are away?
Do you board your horse off your property?
All of these scenarios have one thing in common – someone other than you is caring for your animal.
Every year about this time, my husband and I take a trip with his grown daughters. As we get ready for each year’s trip, my thoughts turn to care for our animals and leaving our pet/farm sitter well prepared to deal with whatever comes her way. While no one wants to think about the worst happening to their pet while they are away, it is possible that a pet may become ill or injured in your absence. This year in particular, I have a senior dog who has already outlived the veterinary prediction for his mortality in the face of a debilitating degenerative disease.
For years prior to becoming a veterinarian, I maintained an emergency directive with my own vet. Once I became a practicing vet, I encouraged my clients to do the same. Aside from considering having an emergency directive while you are on a trip, it can help your pet or horse receive prompt veterinary care if needed during an emergency or disaster.
An Emergency Directive is a document outlining who is to be contacted in case of an emergency, who is your designee if you cannot be reached, who is your veterinarian and how much money can the veterinarian spend without your direct consent (in a case where you cannot be contacted in a timely manner). A copy of this should be left with the animal caretaker as well as your selected veterinarian(s). You may also consider discussing with your veterinarian adding a clause that in the case that you are unreachable and the selected veterinarian deems that your animal is not salvable and would suffer if allowed to remain alive; the veterinarian has your permission to make the decision to euthanize your animal. This directive should be reserved for situations where death is inevitable but suffering can be avoided. While this is a difficult thing to sign, you can spare your animal extended suffering in a terminal situation.
Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional — Haruki Murakami