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Better Safe Than Sorry: The Importance of a Communication Plan

Single Pet Owners with Medical Conditions: Set Up a Communication Plan with Email, Phone Calls, or Remote Monitor Backup

Imagine 56-year-old Mrs. Eunice Talladega, a single, widowed pet owner with a heart condition at home one day with her feline, Flounder, and her dog, Bingo. Its 2:45 PM and Eunice has eaten a late lunch. Bingo is comfortably asleep on the floor next to the easy chair Eunice is sitting in. Flounder the cat is taking a cat nap on Mrs. Talladega’s lap. Bingo’s eyes are twitching while she sleeps, perhaps dreaming of chasing Flounder around the dining room table. Flounder has also entered sleep after purring from being scratched by Mrs. Talladega around her ears and back.

All is peaceful and quiet at 2:45 PM. This easy chair ritual with Bingo, Flounder, and Mrs. Talladega has been repeated hundreds of times over the years since her husband Emmett passed away, with all three family members relaxing and dozing off together in harmony many afternoons between lunch and suppertime. These wonderful rituals shared by different species deepen the bond between people and their pets. Bingo and Flounder have decreased some of the loneliness and isolation Eunice has felt living as a widow.

Eunice was widowed 3 years ago when her husband Emmett passed. Eunice developed cardiac problems. Eunice has a two-year history of heart troubles, including numerous cardiac tests and one overnight hospitalization of 7 days after a heart attack 12 months earlier.

Suddenly, about 3 PM Mrs. Talladega suffers a medical emergency and collapses unconscious forward out of the chair onto the floor. Bingo wakes up and licks Mrs. Talladega’s face. Flounder meows loudly and scurries into another room, rudely awakened from the cat nap. Mrs. Talladega becomes conscious for a few moments, and tries unsuccessfully to press the emergency button on her necklace. She yells weakly for help, and then passes out on the floor. Bingo and Flounder are left on their own to somehow fend for themselves without human oversight.

Who and when will know the pet family of Mrs. Talladega, Flounder, and Bingo are now in a life or death crisis? How long will the crisis last?

Mrs. Talladega didn’t have time or the strength to use any emergency technology that would have signaled a problem. She didn’t call 911, nor was she able to press her emergency button. There is no remote video monitor technology that would immediately inform her family or friends of this crisis.

What will Bingo and Flounder eat and drink? How many hours or days might elapse until someone, a friend, a mail person, a neighbor, a colleague, a family member, realizes something might be drastically wrong? Will Mrs. Talledega survive until help arrives, or will she pass away? When will the animals start to be dehydrated? Will the animals start to attack each other for food? Will Bingo and Flounder attack Mrs. Talladega’s body if they become ravenous and starving?

This rare horrific situation rarely occurs but does occur. Better outcomes may be possible with a daily mutual email/phone call or remote viewing communication technology for single pet owners with medical conditions.

Solutions: A daily mutual email, phone call, or remote viewing technology system is indicated for single pet owners who have medical conditions.

Once a day the pet owner can email or phone a designated person letting them know they are okay. Once the conversation or message is left via email or phone, the recipient can email or call back confirming. If 24 hours ever passes without the backup person being contacted, the backup person can email or call the pet owner. If there is no response, a designated person or the Police can go over to the home on a welfare visit. One of the many services Police engage in are welfare visits -- usually when requested by a family member, friend, neighbor, or a concerned person. The police proceed to the address given to perform the welfare visit based on their own procedures. The police will inform those requesting the welfare visit of their findings.

Remote Monitoring Technology. Certain family members may prefer a remote monitoring technology. Many options exist. Certain single pet owners with significant medical issues may be opposed to the email or phone plan. Some elders believe their independence is compromised by having to call or email someone every day. Other elders may think they would be too much of a bother. Remote monitoring allows the monitored person to be seen via video technology by their designated family or friends.

The old phrase “It’s better to be safe than sorry…” encourages people to take what may seem to be unnecessary steps, which can prevent unpleasant circumstances.

Robert Berkelhammer is the Author of Pet Care Givers & Families: Getting the Most From Dog Playgroups, Pet Sitters, and Walkers. Also, see our MULTI-USE FAMILY PET CARE CONTRACT, a must-have organizing tool for you, your family, pet care professionals, and most importantly your pets!

Please consider helping me continue my important work helping pets as I develop as pet care professional and expert. All Donors will receive a free copy of the 16-page Family Pet Contract! Learn more

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