New Jersey animal welfare organizations are urging people to have a plan for their pets during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Residents who wind up in the hospital due to COVID-19 could mean pets left behind in need of care. No pet should be left uncared at any time.

Michelle Thevenin, chief operating officer at St. Hubert’s in Madison, said the first thing to do is have other caretakers lined up such as friends, neighbors or relatives who will be able to come into your home to care for the pet.

She said the best place for a person’s pet, even if that person is sick, is with them in their own home. If there is another person who lives there, then segregate yourself and have them care for the pets.

Thevenin said if there’s a boarding kennel that the pet is used to going to, that’s fine, especially if the owner needs to be hospitalized. But sending the animals to someone else’s home will cause the animal stress. Sending a pet to a shelter will also be stressful and should only be done as a last resort.

Thevenin said that in addition to shelters' normal flow of animals due to other circumstances and kitten season, having pets arrive from novel coronavirus situations will only overcrowd the shelters at a faster rate.

Thevenin suggests preparing a two-week pet supply kit of food, treats, a leash, toys, medications, daily care instructions, the vet’s contact information, vaccination records and microchip information. A crate or a carrier for the pet is also a good idea. All of this should be in an easy-to-find location.

She also said the caretaker information should be visible to emergency personnel. If a person can’t breathe due to COVID-19 complications and can’t communicate with EMS, that emergency personnel needs to see instructions on how to care for a pet and be able to contact a caretaker for that animal.

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