Most countries have an emergency number that you can call when you need assistance. This number in the United States and Canada is 911. While this number is generally used for emergencies that involve people, what happens when your pet has an emergency? Can you call 911 for your dog or other pet?
911 is reserved for human emergencies. It is not advised for you to call 911 if your pet is having an emergency. You should contact your vet or the nearest emergency animal hospital for these types of emergencies.
There are a few exceptions to this that we will talk about below, but for the most part, 911 is for people. Keep reading for some more information about pet emergencies and resources for you in these situations.
Can You Call 911 for Your Dog/Cat/Pet?
Firefighters and other emergency resources are on duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They are there to respond when you or anyone else needs help.
911 is the emergency number that is used to contact firefighters, police, ambulance when you need their help. This number can be used for any type of emergency, not just the obvious ones like fires or a robbery.
However, while you can call for assistance for all types of emergencies, 911 is designed for emergencies that involve people. When your pet has an emergency, you should not call 911.
Emergency services have a limited amount of resources and they don’t usually have enough responders (or the proper training) to also handle animal emergencies. (In most cases.)
If there are human emergencies that are animal-related, you should definitely call 911. For example, if a child gets bit by a dog, that is a good reason to use the 911 system, But if one dog bites another animal, 911 should not be called, as no people were involved.
Note: There are exceptions where firefighters and police officers have helped animals. Firefighters are known for getting cats out of trees, which isn’t common but does happen.
Some fire departments may even respond for pest removal. This department in Arizona will come out to get rid of rattlesnakes, but only if they are a direct danger to people.
I have even performed CPR on two dogs that we pulled out of a fire, but this doesn’t happen often.
So, that what should you do when your pet has an emergency?
Who to Call for a Pet Emergency? Animal 911 Number
While you shouldn’t call 911 for a pet emergency, there are some resources to help you manage issues that need immediate attention with your pet. There are a few different numbers you should know, depending on the issue.
- Make sure you have your vet’s phone number handy for help during business hours. (They may even have an after-hours emergency line to provide assistance.)
- Get the number for the nearest 24-hour emergency animal hospital. It’s also good to know how to get there ahead of time.
- Another important contact is Animal Poison Control (888) 426-4435 or Pet Poison Helpline (855) 764-7661 (Call for assistance if your pet ate something that could be dangerous)
- If it’s not an emergency but you need help with your pet’s behavior, call Animal Behavior Hotline (312) 644-8338 ext. 343
- You can also visit AnimalHelpNow at ahnow.org for help with wildlife emergencies.
There are plenty of resources to help with your pet emergency, so you don’t need to call 911.
Note: Some of the emergency pet numbers may charge for their services.
What Do You Do if Your Pet Has an Emergency?
If your pet has an emergency there are important steps you can take to have the best possible outcome.
- Try to remain calm (this will help you to make good decisions)
- Call your vet if they are open or the local animal hospital for advice.
- Call animal poison control if your pet may have eaten something harmful.
- If your pet is injured, follow the ASPCA’s advice:
- For dogs: Approach your dog slowly and calmly; kneel down and say his name. If the dog shows aggression, call for help. If he’s passive, fashion a makeshift stretcher and gently lift him onto it. Take care to support his neck and back in case he’s suffered any spinal injuries.
- For cats: Gently place a blanket or towel over the cat’s head to prevent biting; then slowly lift the cat and place her in an open-topped carrier or box. Take care to support the cat’s head and avoid twisting her neck in case she’s suffered a spinal injury.
- Once you feel confident and safe transporting your pet, immediately bring him to an emergency care facility. Ask a friend or family member to call the clinic so the staff knows to expect you and your pet.
- It is a good idea to learn how to perform CPR on your pet before an emergency. Hopefully, you will never need to use it. Watch this video to get an idea of how to perform CPR on your pet:
For more detailed information on handling your pet emergencies, visit the ASPCA.org.
Can You Call 911 for Animal Control?
If your pet is having an emergency, you are probably better off taking them to the vet or emergency animal hospital. However, in some instances, animal control may be able to help.
To get a hold of animal control in an emergency, it is best to find the local phone number online and call them directly. If that is not possible, you can call 911 and they may be able to help. They may transfer you to a non-emergency line or directly to the animal control staff.
Can You Call 911 for a Missing Dog?
If your pet disappears and you are unable to find them, you may need some help.
You should call the police to report your missing pet (especially if you think they may have been stolen), however, you are better off calling the non-emergency police phone number. This number is not standard and you will have to look up the police department in your area.
If you are unable to find the non-emergency number, you can call 911 and they will most likely transfer you to this number to report the missing pet.
You should also call animal control. They may be better equipped to help you find your lost pet.
The American Humane Society also has some good info to help you get your pet back. Here are some good tips.
911 is the emergency response service used in many areas. It is, for the most part, specifically set up to manage human emergencies. As we have seen, there are a few instances when calling 911 for an animal or pet emergency can be okay.