8 Documents Every Pet Parent Should Have

Always be prepared for your pet with paperwork, photos, and more.
By: Carol Bryant
Cat and dog at home.

In this day and age of electronic everything, there is still a need for documents that are tangible and shareable. There are several documents all pet parents should have on hand to ensure their pets’ wellbeing. Here are eight documents that every pet parent should keep safe and on the ready.

Rabies Certificate or Waiver

Dogs and cats are generally given a tag to wear after a rabies vaccination is administered. The certificate/proof of rabies vaccine administration is a critical document. The required frequency of rabies vaccinations varies from state to state. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association(AVMA), Some states are also beginning to provide exemptions for vaccination requirements if medically necessary as determined by a veterinarian. If this applies to your pet(s), ensure the waiver is a document you have easily accessible.

Latest Vaccine Records

Although veterinarians keep this information in their paper and/or electronic files, you should have a copy, too. Admittance to pet-friendly hotels, or getting into certain expos and pet-friendly events, often depends on current vaccination records. If your pet receives an annual blood titer level to show levels of certain vaccines within the bloodstream, have this document at your disposal as well.

Proof of Ownership

Although no one ever believes it will happen to them, sometimes divorce or separations happen and custody battles over pets ensue. Since pets are viewed as property in the eyes of the law, whoever can prove they own the pet(s) will most likely receive the rights to keep and maintain that pet. Proof of ownership can be an AKC registration record or something more formal that is legal and notarized. If you share your pets with someone else, ensure ownership is clear in writing.

Trust

The only documents that are legally enforceable are those that are prepared accurately prior to your demise. If something happens to you, a trust outlines where your pet goes, who cares for him and what funds are available. A will has many pitfalls that allow for loopholes when a pet’s wellbeing is considered. Will instructions are not enforceable in most cases. With its many pitfalls, a legal trust provides a host of additional protections and advantages. The American Bar Association is a great place to start for legal direction, but always consult with an attorney for such an important document. Never assume a verbal agreement will hold up in a court of law. Get it in writing and have the document secured where loved ones can obtain it upon your passing.

License

Many states require a dog or cat license. In addition to a standard tag that most states issue for the pet to wear, keep any document handy that is sent your way by the state/county.

Emergency Numbers

Most folks keep emergency numbers in their cell phone, but what if you are hurt or your pet is with a sitter and an accident occurs? In addition to the Pet Poison Helpline (or another reputable poison control center for pets), keep a handy list of phone numbers including the veterinarian, emergency veterinarian and anyone you need to contact in the event of an emergency. Keep a laminated list on the refrigerator or on a home office bulletin board.

Photographs

Always have a current printed photograph of your pet along with a photograph of you with your pet handy. Cell phones are great for snapping photos, but in a pinch, having a copy of your pet in a nice glossy 5 x 7 or larger is best to have in the event of an emergency. Nobody wants their pet to go missing, but being prepared will help in the event your pet disappears.

Emergency Evacuation and Accommodations Plan

Though I never thought I’d need to utilize emergency evacuation plans, I was grateful to have them when flood waters threatened my home. During a critical time when local authorities implemented a mandatory evacuation, my list of items came in handy. I was able to gather all belongings needed, get them safely stowed away, and leave the area in a hurry.

Bonus points if you have a list of pet-friendly hotels in place ahead of time. When we had to evacuate, a 3-hour ride to find pet-friendly lodging occurred. Have more than one spot in mind incase your first option doesn’t work out.

Image via Shutterstock