Planning for Your Pets In Case of Arrest

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.

Police raids in Kent
Police raids in Kent (Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)

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?
puppies seized
Pit Bull Puppies seized in a Saratoga Springs, NY, drug raid. (Photo Erica Miller 4/30/13 news_9Puppies1_Wed)

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.

55 thoughts on “Planning for Your Pets In Case of Arrest

  1. Oddly enough, I was watching a movie today and the guys were planning a bank robbery. One of them had an old dog who was almost blind and all I could think about was what would happen to the dog!!

  2. Such an interesting post. I am so squeaky clean that I’ll never get arrested. In my mind, I’m this ‘wild, crazy’ girl who is getting arrested left, right, and centre, but the reality is far from that 🙂 I think your post also applies to other emergency situations. I have seen a number of people who needed to be admitted to hospital urgently, and have had a problem about where to house their pets. I think a contingency plan for that sort of thing would be a good idea too.

  3. Not because of illegal activities, but because of the possibility to die in a car accident I have often thought, that it would be a catastrophe for the dogs if I die and can’t tell anyone. I got ICE numbers on my mobile, so if my mobile would survive, it would probably be okay. I know those thoughts are rather morbid, but just because we try to block out, that life can be short, doesn’t make it last forever.

  4. Rumpy, my mom got so attached to Pip, the Doxie, she took her EVERYWHERE! EVERYWHERE! She would have died for that dog! Not sure she liked people as much as dogs, but you know how awesome dogs are! Who could blame her?

  5. Important info for all sort of emergencies. We are an emergency contact for our friend and their 8 guinea pigs so that when she had to rush off to be with her dying father, we were one phone call away. My Auntie has a sign pinned above the dog beds in her house that says their names, a vet, an emergency contact, the rescue they are from who will take them back in an emergency etc.

    I think everyone should have something in place, no matter what the pet.

    ~Amy

  6. Rumpy, I gotta congratulate you for thinking out of the box on this post and making it informative and entertaining while still conveying an important message. Sharing.

  7. I’m not afraid of being arrested; however, when I totaled my car was taken to the hospital. I have a card in my wallet that tells people what to do and whom to call. I also have the info in my phone. Luckily I was okay enough to ask the EMTs for my phone and I called my dog walker.

    Not to be maudlin and while not directly on point, this too is important. I have made arrangements for BJ in my will. In case my family won’t take him, I have made arrangements with a friend, and my family has the person’s information. I have also left money in my will to cover his care.

    People should look ahead just in case. Otherwise your dog would go to a shelter.

  8. In my neighbourhood, there are two dogs whose owner got into a retirement home (or hospital?). It is clear that she won’t come back. Her daughter comes only at weekends or even more infrequently. The two dogs live in the abandoned garden, the closest neighbour tries to look after them to some extent. Several people bring them food but as a consequence, they eat a lot of unhealthy things unregularly. The biggest problem I think is fresh water – one cannot give them a drink through the fence, and the summer will be hot and long. I often bring them yogurt – fortunately, they can lick it from the plastic thingy. They are not walked either. But they are petted by a lot of people and usually they are in good mood.

      1. I tried it but the two doggies could not interpret this thingy – they did not eat the ice cubes but let them melt and disappear. I put them into their yogurt after letting them a bit melt because I was afraid the they might be too hard for their teeth.

  9. I’ve never thought that I might be arrested…and hopefully it won’t happen in my life…..However these tips are really great and clever ones to people who might have possiblities to be arrested!
    We all need to protect our companion animals whatever happens to us! Have a lovely Saturday, Rumpy! 🙂

  10. Nice Post Rumpy! The pups in your picture are from very close to us. Sadly we have had a number of these type issues in the surrounding area. I also want to mention those who are arrested while driving with their pets! There was an incident locally where gentleman was driving with his 2 huskies on a warm/hot day and he was pulled over. He asked for the officer to take the dogs out the car due to the heat, which he did and then tied them to the back of the patrol car. The man had called family to pick up his dogs and they did arrive, however the officer got another call and took off – without checking the bumper – and ran over one of the dogs she had to be put down. It really made us think about what could happen.
    Thanks again for good informative post.

  11. I think the only one in danger of arrest at my house is my very naughty cat bro Bert, so we aren’t worried but I guess those criminal types would need a plan.

    1. I’ve thought about some emergencies, like hurricanes and tornadoes, but I never thought about getting arrested before talking to our friend.

  12. Oops wasn’t done… one puppy patient I remember had parvo. His owner suspiciously was paying for the expensive treatment and I was sure he was selling drugs to be able to afford it. One day he didn’t come pick the puppy up. We found out he had been arrested, but he never said why. His girlfrend was able to get the dog and pay for the rest of his treatment. I was curious and looked up that he had been arrested for pom with intent to sell. He was doing it all for his puppy 😦

  13. This is something I would never have thought of! I didn’t think of what would happen if I was hospitalized either. Although I won’t be arrested, anyone could be in an accident. Thursday we had a tornado. We just posted about registering microchipped pets for free. Its really important, especially if scared animals run out the door during a bust.

    1. Yes, I guess these tips could apply to any sort of emergency. Thought I doubt law enforcement would shoot a dog after a tornado…. well, I’d hope not, anyway.

    1. Thanks Tammye, but almost every home our friend has been in has had pets, and this person has always worried about what would happen too them if the drug user was ever finally busted.

  14. This happened a couple of doors down from us … flash bang at 5 in the morning … made me jump out of my skin!!! My first thought were the dogs. I still wonder, a couple of months later … as there is no activity at the house … to me this indicates they didn’t make bail. Where are those sweet “kiddos”?

    1. I know it was meant as a tongue-in-cheek post, but our “anonymous helping professional” was quite upset about the animal situation, and this was written as a response to her angst.

  15. Ohmigosh…I guess I have thought about something happening that would prevent me and my hubby from being able to care for the dogs…not arrest, but… I am going to do some heavy thinking and line up something and put notices up on the house about our dogs. Thanks for the nudge.

  16. Goodness! I know of at least one person who could use this advice. No, not me, but someone close to me. Too bad they live in another state, otherwise I could be their emergency pet caretaker.

  17. Children and animals always end up as the truly innocent victims amidst criminal activity. The problem is that most criminals could care less about their kids or their pets. They just want to make money and maintain a certain lifestyle.

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