Pet owners urged to plan for care of pets in event of hospitalization

( NOEL CELIS/AFP via Getty Images )

Animal shelters in Alameda and Contra Costa counties urged pet owners Friday to develop an emergency plan in the event they are hospitalized with the novel coronavirus and cannot care for their pets.

While hospitals are working to meet ever-increasing coronavirus patient demands, animal shelters in both counties -- including animal services departments in Contra Costa County and the cities of Hayward, Berkeley, Oakland and Antioch -- expect that the outbreak could leave hundreds of pets needing care when their owners are hospitalized. 

Pet owners are advised to make an emergency kit with food, at least two weeks of required medication and other necessary supplies such as a travel kennel or crate. 

Pet owners should create a written emergency plan, including their name and contact information, their pet's feeding schedule, vaccination and veterinarian information and any relevant information about medications and instructions for treatment.

Pet owners should also find a temporary caregiver among their family, friends, neighbors, pet sitter or local pet boarding facility. Animal shelters from the two counties warned that public shelters are not equipped to handle a large influx of pets needing long-term care.

"Having a plan will reduce your stress by providing peace of mind that your pets will be cared for," the group of shelters said in a joint statement. "In addition, keeping public shelters free of long-term care animals allows them to be better prepared for the onset of kitten season, stray pets, and animal care cases that require immediate attention."

Residents can find more information about protecting their pet in an emergency by contacting their local animal shelter.