From the moment you decide to seek treatment for addiction, you have a lot of choices ahead of you. Where to go, what to do with your belongings, how long to go, who to tell, what to pack, how to cope… the list goes on. For many people, deciding on long-term care for your pet while getting treatment is one of the toughest choices, and biggest obstacles, you have to make.
There are very few rehab recovery centers that allow pets due to safety issues and for the comfort of the other guests. For some, having your dog or cat around might give you some support, while others can find them distracting. Remember, the focus is on you overcoming this addiction so you can live a healthy life and be there for the people you love, including your furry friends.
While it’s important to get this settled, it’s also important that you don’t delay treatment for too long while you decide what to do. Here are some options for taking care of your pet while you’re away getting the treatment you need for substance abuse.
Choose a Boarding Facility
You aren’t the first person to experience this problem, so don’t be surprised that your treatment center can recommend a pet boarding facility. If they are unsure, a quick Google search can help you find ones in your area. If you have a pet that requires attention multiple times a day, like a dog or an animal that requires medication, a boarding facility can often be the safest option.
These facilities specialize in caring for pets for extended periods of time, so be sure to do your research, make a trip to visit before you commit, and ask around for recommendations from people you trust. While usually one of the more expensive decisions, they are also typically able to take in your pet very quickly. So if time is an issue, boarding your dog or cat might be your best route.
Boarding facilities can charge by the hour, day or week. Many will give you a discounted rate the longer you book. Be sure to factor in food, toys, treats and treatment into your costs. Some boarding houses want you to supply food for your dog or cat, while others provide it. If your pet gets into a little tiff while being boarded, they might want to take them to your vet or have someone on site treat them. You need to know how the responsibilities will be split while you are away.
Hiring a Pet Sitter
An alternative to a boarding facility is a pet sitter. If you have a pet that requires minimal care, like a cat, fish, turtle, lizard, or bird, you might hire a pet sitting service to come to your house for a set amount of time. This is also a nice, comforting option knowing someone will be checking on your house. A pet sitter can come by as often as once or multiple times a day, or as little as just a few times a week. For a fee, they will come in for however many visits you arrange. They will also perform any and all tasks relating to the pet, like feeding, brushing, letting them outside, walking, playing, cleaning the litter box and restocking food.
Because they are not giving your pet 100 percent constant attention, pet sitters are usually a more economical choice than a boarding facility. Finding a pet sitter you like, and who is qualified, may take a bit more time than selecting a boarding facility, but there are ways to make the selection process easy and efficient. Ask your veterinarian for a recommendation, or chat with the employees of a locally-owned, reputable animal supply store. You can even do a web search and find a vast network of educated and certified pet sitters.
Get Help from a Friend or Family Member
When in the depths of a battle with addiction, not everyone is lucky enough to have friends or family still by their side. Even if yours have taken some distance, consider reaching out to them to ask for help, especially if money is too tight to hire someone. You can ask a trusted friend or family member to care for your pet for the duration of your time in treatment, even if you’re currently estranged from them. If you can offer to pay, offer what you can. You shouldn’t feel guilty for asking for help, no matter what memories the past may hold. Your pet’s life is worth it.
A friend or family member can perform the same duties as a professional pet sitting service or take the pet into their home. Don’t just think of someone who is likely to say yes, but consider if you know someone who could use a companion. Maybe they recently had an animal pass or could use a friend for their dog or cat. Someone open to companionship is a better option than someone who just says yes all the time.
You’ll want to avoid asking any of your friends currently dealing with addiction or seeking treatment to help. Your recovery will go much more smoothly if you aren’t constantly wondering and worrying about the quality of care your pet is getting. Reach out to someone you can trust completely.
Ask Your Veterinarian
Often, veterinarian offices will board pets for a period of time. You can ask your vet if he or she has a boarding option. This is especially a good choice if your pet has special needs, requires multiple medications, or often needs medical attention. Your vet knows your pet; they have been caring for them regularly and can provide a safe, sterile environment.
The sterility can sometimes be a drawback. Vets offices may use smaller kennels than a boarding facility, and your pet may not get overnight attention. Be sure to ask about their policies and procedures. If it doesn’t work out, you can also offer to pay someone on staff to pet sit.
There are many fostering programs out there, and several for people in your situation. You can check with your local humane societies or no-kill non-profit animal shelters for fostering recommendations. If that leads to a dead end, try researching foster programs through local animal rescues or PACTforanimals.org. There are also organizations, like Red Rover, that can provide financial assistance for people who need pet care while seeking treatment. The internet is a powerful research tool. Use it!
Some Tips for Care
Whether you hire a pet sitter or ask a friend, make sure you provide written instructions on how to care for your pet. Try your best to provide the funds to buy enough food and other pet items to keep your pet safe, secure and fed during your stay and even some time after. You may find you need more time at a treatment facility than you anticipated. Plan for those contingencies.
Pets are family members for many people, so making sure they get the best care while you take back control of your life will be a priority. There are options out there, so don’t give up. It’s important that you go into treatment feeling calm and focused, ready to tackle the long road ahead. Knowing when you are finished you’ll get to return home to your beloved pet is a strong motivator and constant reminder of the joy of sobriety.