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Pets – Who Cares for Them When You Cannot? (Part One)

As much as we would like to have our pets with us at all times, that may not always be possible. Sometimes life throws us a curve ball that will require you to leave your pets in the care of someone else. For example, you may need to travel for work, a family healthcare crisis, or a funeral. In addition, you may need to evacuate your home due to a natural disaster where you will not be able to take your pets with you.

Planning Ahead

A list of reason you might need to leave your pet in the care of another.
Provided by Don Hanson

Perhaps you’re staying home but know that your pet will be better off elsewhere during events your pet might find such stressful. Such occasions might include a family reunion, neighborhood block party, the contractor remodeling your kitchen, or a realtor showing your home. However, people seek pet care primarily when they go away for a weekend or longer on vacation, travel, or have many guests over for the holidays. Reputable pet boarding facilities take great care of thousands of pets every year. However, if you know you need someone to care for your pets anytime kids are out of school, make sure you have a reservation several weeks or months in advance.

I advise all pet parents to prepare their pets for being cared for by others well before needing such service. Your pet must be comfortable with other people and different environments. The earlier you start this process, the better. An older pet might have difficulty adjusting unless you prepared them when they were young. I encourage my puppy students to board their puppy for at least one overnight before their socialization period ends.

You have many potential choices for who you entrust to care for your pet. For example, a family member, friend, neighbor, a professional pet sitter, or a professional boarding facility are options you may wish to consider when looking for someone to care for your pets.


 A Checklist for Pet Parents

Before entrusting the care of your pet to anyone, you should:

A list of items to always provide to pet care provider.
Provided by Don Hanson
  • Notify your veterinarian and let them know that someone else is caring for your pet and may be contacting them in case of an emergency.
  • Provide contact information for yourself, your veterinarian, and the closest emergency veterinary clinic to anyone caring for your pet. They should also have a copy of your pet’s most recent vaccination records and any other information applicable to specific health concerns for your pet.
  • Set up an opportunity for your pet to meet their caregiver. Make sure that your pet is comfortable around them. Likewise, the caregivers need to be at ease with your pet.
  • If your pet will stay elsewhere while you are away, allow your pet to familiarize themselves with where they will be staying ahead of time.
  • If your pet is staying in the home of someone with their own pets, all pets must have a history of getting along.
  • Ensure that the people caring for your pet understand your pet’s behavior and health issues. You must be honest about your pet’s health status and behavioral quirks. If your pet has aggression issues, failing to disclose all the details about your pet’s aggression and reactivity is putting others at risk. Your pet care provider needs to know if your pet has occasional seizures, lameness, or other health issues.
  • Make arrangements for an emergency contact, someone who can authorize medical care for your pet if your pet care provider cannot contact you. This emergency contact may also be needed to care for your pet if the pet care provider indicates they cannot care for them. They may also need to assume financial responsibility for your pet in your absence.
  • If your pet is a senior or has existing health issues, consider having your attorney draft an advanced healthcare directive that authorizes your pet care provider or veterinarian to make decisions on your behalf. Sometimes decisions need to be made in minutes to prevent suffering.
  • When leaving your pet with a family member, friend, or pet sitter, ask if they have a backup plan if they experience their own personal emergency. This is typically not an issue for a professional boarding facility as they usually have a staff of several individuals.



About the Author

Don Hanson and Muppy
Photo by Debra Bell

Don Hanson lives in Bangor, Maine, where he is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop and the founder of, an online educational resource for people with dogs and cats. He is a Professional Canine Behavior Consultant (PCBC-A) accredited by the Pet Professional Accreditation Board (PPAB) and a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP). Don is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG), serving on the Board of Directors and Steering Committee and chairing the Advocacy Committee. He is also a founding director of Pet Advocacy International (PIAI). In addition, Don produces and co-hosts The Woof Meow Show podcast, available at, the Apple Podcast app, and Don’s blog.



The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©23JUN22 Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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