I recently spoke with a child abuse investigator who told of being on the scene of a meth lab bust because children were found inside. Sadly there were also pets, but there was no helping professional available for them.
It got me thinking- humans plan for any number of emergencies, but do you have a contingency plan in case you’re arrested? Let’s face it, if you’re engaging in illegal activity, you’re likely to be arrested, and you probably won’t have advance warning they’re coming to get you. You need to have a plan for your pets.
So here, for the benefit of those of you who are responsible pet owners, but unrepentant rule-breakers, are Rumpy’s Tips for Planning for an Arrest.
- Let law enforcement know there are animals in the home. An emergency preparedness sticker on each entry to the home works well. “Beware of Dog” signs do not. Make sure you note on the sticker what kind and how many animals are in the home. We don’t want a cop shooting your dog hiding in the closet because he thought it was your cousin Stewie eating the evidence.
- Have a trusted person who can be contacted to come get your pets. Waiting until they’re hauling you off in handcuffs is not the time to talk to your neighbor about feeding your pets while you’re away. If you’re a drug user, it probably shouldn’t be one of your using buddies, because they’re likely to be arrested too. Choose a family member or acquaintance who isn’t likely to be arrested, but is likely to responsibly care for your animals. Talk to that person ahead of time, then keep that person’s contact information handy, because when you get your one phone call, you want to make sure whoever you call knows to contact your pet caregiver.
- Have an emergency preparedness kit on hand.You’ll need food, any medications your pet takes, and for some animals, a habitat to live in. You’ll also need leashes for dogs and carriers for cats or other small animals. If you’re manufacturing methamphetamine, nothing in the home should go with the pet. Have your kit stored elsewhere to ensure the items aren’t contaminated and possibly harm your caregiver. For a list of other possible items your kit will need, check these posts from the HSUS and the ASPCA.
- Have a “safe haven” for your pets during the chaos of the arrest. With an arrest come lots of strange people, flashing lights, and possibly loud noises. If you run or attack an officer, there may be shots fired. And, truth is, the door to your place is going to stay open during most of the time. Your pet is going to be afraid and could run away. Our anonymous helping professional had to stand back and watch a kitten run in fear while the officers disarmed active meth labs. But take heart- at least they didn’t shoot the animals. That has happened many times before.
- Have a long-term plan in case you can’t make bail. Explain to your caregiver that, while you are innocent, you must wait until your public defender proves your innocence in a court of law. And that could be a year or more down the road. If the caregiver cannot commit that long to caring for your animals, have people in mind that can help. Be familiar with rescue groups operating in the area. If animal control is your best option, remember that an animal that is spayed/neutered and trained will more likely be adopted.
- A special note for drug dealers. You’ve been known to house all sorts of exotic animals. Caring for them isn’t going to be cheap, and your cash is going to be confiscated. How about making donations TODAY to the agencies that will be charged with rescuing those animals and ensuring they’re cared for?
While I hope none of you actually engage in illegal behavior, the truth is that some people do. If you’re one of those people, having a plan for your pets can make the difference in animal abandonment and responsible animal caregiving.