Factors to Consider When Leaving Pets with New Caregivers

File photo Don’t leave your pet’s care up to chance. FAAS offers help on choosing the right caregiver for Fido.

When holiday season travel means leaving your pet at home, finding the right caretaker is an important decision. Having a family member or friend watch your loved one is typically the first choice, but when that is not possible, the alternatives seem to come down to either hiring a pet sitter or boarding. Both have their own advantages and special considerations.

If you have a family member or a pet sitter move into your home, it is essential that you go over your pet’s routine to make sure they are aware of the ways your pets can escape. All too often, animals end up getting out when their owners are away because the caretaker is not familiar with the house or the tendency of an anxious pet to go looking to find his family. Regardless of how an animal might get out while you are away, there are ways to mitigate for an unwanted outcome.

First, if you are resident of Alameda, the Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter (FAAS) has a helpful form called the Pet Caregiver Consent Form that can be downloaded from the FAAS website. This form allows caretakers to act on an owner’s behalf should something go wrong while he or she is out of town. For instance, if your pet gets out and ends up at the shelter, the caretaker is granted the authority to come and retrieve your pet.

While this might not seem at first glance to be significant, it can have serious consequences. Most shelters will not release a pet to someone other than the owner without written authorization. If an animal is not licensed or micro-chipped, the pet is placed on a three-day "stray hold" so that the owner has time to come and pick up the pet.

But if the owner is out of town and unaware that the pet is missing at home, the owner runs the risk that the pet could be adopted by another family in the meantime. All can be avoided with the appropriate documentation in place.

The Pet Caregiver Consent Form also provides authorization for the caretaker to make medical decisions in the event of an emergency and outlines your veterinarian’s contact information. It is a good idea to provide your veterinarian with your credit card number so that your caretaker is not burdened with costly veterinary bills if you are unreachable at the time that treatment is required. This arrangement can be made with your veterinarian ahead of time and certain guidelines can be agreed upon.

If boarding is your best option, recognize that advanced reservations are key to ensuring space as pet hotels, kennels and veterinarians often fill up quickly especially during the holidays. Additionally, all require that your pet’s vaccinations be up to date, usually proven through a vaccination record at drop-off. While veterinary boarding can sometimes accommodate last-minute vaccinations, pet hotels and kennels do not typically offer this service. So advanced planning is critical to successful travel plans.

Leaving pets at home during holiday travel is an option that many pet owners choose given the stress involved in airline travel, extended car rides and unfamiliar destinations.

And while pets are often happier left at home, there are precautions that should be considered for your own peace of mind. There is no one right answer for what to do while you are away, but ensuring your pet’s safety is fairly easy. It just requires some thoughtful planning and a little love.

November Jewelry Show and Holiday Open House

Jewelry designer Vali Ebert will be hosting an open house from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, showcasing handcrafted vintage jewelry amid a variety of unique holiday gifts. All proceeds benefit FAAS.

For further information about the location, contact vebert.faas@gmail.com. It is an event not to be missed!

FAAS 2016 Pet Calendar Available Soon

You will not want to miss out on FAAS’ pet calendar for 2016. This year’s calendar features a variety of dogs and cats throughout California who participated in FAAS’ annual cutest pet photo contest. Packed with adorable animal faces, the FAAS calendar makes a great holiday, birthday, or thank-you gift.

Calendars are $18 each or five for $75, and can be purchased at the Alameda Animal Shelter, Providence Veterinary Hospital & Clinic, Park Centre Animal Hospital, Alameda Pet Hospital, Under One Woof and Alameda Golf Works. Act now as supplies are limited.

Wish List

If you shop on Amazon and want to help, there are a number of ways that you can make a difference. Please visit www.amazon.com/gp/wishlist.

Type in "Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter" and it will take you to the recently updated wish list.

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Nancy Baglietto is the executive director of FAAS.