Creating a Canine Travel Emergency Kit

Creating a Canine Travel Emergency Kit

Photo of the finished kit--I have changed the caribeener and zip-tie connection to use a weight tested clip directly through the zip tie for added security.

Photo of the finished kit–I have changed the carabiner and zip-tie connection to use a weight tested clip directly through the zip tie.

I’m sure there are many of you who were bombarded by social media posts about Elicia Calhoun, the agility competitor who was in a car accident in AZ. She was on her way back from a trial in another state when she got in the accident with her dogs in the car. One dog was killed on impact, 3 others were quickly taken to a vet, but two were lost on the side of the highway after being ejected from the vehicle. There was a MASSIVE response to find the two lost dogs. Unfortunately only one was found alive, though both were found. It got me thinking about traveling safely with our canine friends, especially since I do a lot of traveling with my pups.

Although I could very easily talk about seat belts, crating, or first aid kits, I really wanted to talk about an emergency information kit. Now, I always keep a copy of my dog’s vaccine records in my car when traveling but I realized that it would be really helpful to have more info in a clearly marked ‘box’ that emergency personel would recognize to open. I want rescue personel to know that I have a dog(s) with me, what that dog(s) looks like, basic information about that dog(s), vaccine record of that dog(s), emergency contact information, veterinary contact information, etc.

For my emergency information kit, I opted to use a 12″ piece of 1.75″ PVC piping with 2 end caps. I wanted to have a container that was very very sturdy and would not break open if involved in a car accident. What good is an emergency kit if it’s smashed to smithereens and its contents strewn around the car. I also felt that a smaller package would be better as it’s probably easier to secure in a position so it does not get lost in case of an accident. I also wanted something that would “stick out” or look out of place in a car. I was at a loss at what to use until I saw a picture showing someone using PVC and I had use that!

Once I cut down my PVC to 12″ (I roll the papers along the vertical axis so they are easy to get out of the tube), I had to figure out what to put in the tube. So here’s a list of the papers that I keep in the tube:

**A photo of Shayne and Rio with me. There are some instances where microchip files may not be accessible or tags may come off–I need to be able to prove ownership and a photo is a great option.

**An introductory note. This page tells rescuers about the kit and that it includes information on dog(s) CURRENTLY traveling with me.

**A good quality photo (or two) of each dog CURRENTLY traveling with me. So “lost” posters can be made but more importantly so vets/shelters can see a good photo of the potentially missing pup.

**Bio information of the dog(s) currently traveling with me with photo (name, breed, age, microchip info, color, personality/temperament information [will this dog approach strangers or run if scared], and any pertinent medical information)–I posted the 1 page bio for when Shayne and Rio travel together

**Vaccination information for the dog(s) currently traveling with me.

**Proof of rabies vaccine for the dog(s) currently traveling with me.

**Emergency contact list (my family members and our normal vet)

**The itinerary for the current trip–where I was traveling to/from and the days

Besides the obvious benefit if there is an emergency, it is also really helpful to have these things at the ready incase there is an injury or accident with a dog while traveling or if you need to have proof of rabies for any number of reasons.

So what do you all do when you travel to make sure you’ve got all the important information at the ready?

  1. Thanks for the really great idea! I will definitely be creating a similar kit. Did you print the bio w/ picture on photo quality paper?

    • I used a heavier weight paper but not photo paper because it was too thick and make it hard to get all the other papers inside (if i were traveling with both dogs I’d have LOTS of paperwork in there so photo paper just was not conducive).

  2. I would think it might be a good idea to sign a paper authorizing medical care for the dogs and assuring payment, similar to something you might leave with your vet when you have a petsitter watching your animals.

    • What a fabulous idea! I would hate for my dog to not get the medical attention he needs due to a money problem. A signed guarantee could help with that!

      • That is the first thought that occurred to me too! My dogs have their own medical credit card for emergencies so I’d probably take it a step further and provide the authorization and payment information to avoid any delays of possible treatment.

  3. Great tip! For how much we travel with Rufus, this could definitely save his life in an energy.

  4. *emergency

  5. This is a great idea! I’m ashamed to say I don’t have anything like this, and I should! I will soon, though!

  6. Good idea.

    I tell my students to take a head shot, profile (both sides if they are different) and go weigh your dog. I suggest they link it to something they are already doing with their dogs like monthly heart worm. That way you always have the most current information in case you have to put together a lost poster.

    I also like having the dogs wear two tags. The first just reads: reward and what numbers to call (no one needs to know the name of your dog unless they plan to keep it) and other: the name, address and phone number of our vet and a line about the dog can wait here for me. Make it easy for people to return your lost dog.

    • These are GREAT suggestions as well, when traveling the dogs are always wearing 2 tags as well–One that says “I’M LOST! CALL MY MOM” that has my cell number and my email address and the second tag has a QR code (just in case a tech-savvy person finds them) that leads to a webpage with more information on both dogs and more contact info for me.

  7. A different tube for each dog would make sense. Then you could just grab the appropriate tube(s) as you go out the door. Not just for the car but great to have with you if you are visiting out of town. In addition, another suggestion is to keep a couple of good photos and some information including microchip numbers on your phone so that you have access to an electronic photo that can be distributed quickly through the internet if dog is lost in an unfamiliar neighbourhood.

    • The only reason I don’t have multiple tubes (because it WOULD be easier) is that I’d rather have fewer things for anyone to have to find and open rather than more. Just my preference but I think either would be fantastic!

  8. Seeing as I rescue dogs & cats/transport them from place to place and even go on vacations with atleast 5 of them every year this will become a necessary part of equipment to be carried in the vehicle at all times….

  9. So sorry about the loss of the dogs in the car accident. I always travel with my own “Rio” and think this is a wonderful idea. Thank you!

    • Hopefully good things and education continue to happen as a result of the very sad event! Yay for Rio’s!

  10. might also be a good idea to have a small whistle or squeaker that your dogs generally respond well to included in the kit. That way if they do get loose they are more likely to come running back at that familiar sound. (Our dogs all come running at the sound of a squeaky ball).

  11. I notice you have a caribiner clip on the tube, do you clip it to the front of each dogs crate, or somewhere else?

    Great idea!

  12. One other item to have is a cloth that you have rubbed on your dog and a baggie of their hair. This will help aid search dogs to find their scent. I learned this due to a friend that lost a Corgi. She calls them Bubby bags in his memory.

  13. I also include people who have agreed to be my “contacts” should I not be able to attend to my dogs. Since I travel a lot, I have folks all over a one day’s drive from home; and when I go cross-country, I find others in the area. Also be sure to include any food or medicine requirements. A bit of “personality” is good too – like, “doesn’t like loud noises like gunshots and may bolt when hearing.”

  14. In addition, you can have all these docs, pics in pdf and jpg format on a small memory stick, SD or MicroSD (the latter secured in a see through box), so that good copies can be made easily!

  15. Where did you put it in the car? I love this idea and will suggest it to my parents who travel with many dogs so they may need a few tubes or have one set for each dog and just put it in the car when that dog goes in.

  16. Did you attach it to a crate?

  17. I wear the info on a small cross-body purse just in case something happens to me while I am inside a rest stop or gas station. My car’s info and license plate are listed so anyone can find the dogs.

  18. Maybe I missed it but where exactly in your vehicle do you put this info? Great idea!

  19. I started keeping a folder with all the dog info in the car but I like your idea much better. I go between my home and my family frequently so I should do this. Thanks for the idea!

  20. I have a plastic baggie attached to the door of each dog’s crate. The first thing showing is the dog’s picture. The paper inside lists Microchip numbers, copies of their shots, contacts, vet’s#, who is authorized to take my pets in case of emergency (witnessed), any special needs of the dogs and any quirks, fears or habits that someone might need to know.

  21. This a really great idea!

  22. SUPER idea the doggies think! Need to get right on that!

  23. Hate to think this way, but also include a name and number of someone to contact in case you are killed or severely injured in the accident.

  24. While the kit is a great idea, I need to point something very important out. In this article you are specifically talking about making sure emergency responders are aware pets are on board, and to open this “tube” you have pictured. I am an emergency responder, specifically a firefighter. If I were to see this particular tube in your car, I would immediately assume it is a pipe bomb and evacuate my crew for our safety. I would NEVER pick this item up and open it! I get the point of the article is to have the documents with you and in a safe place, but I HIGHLY HIGHLY suggest you find something else to put it in and disassemble this tube. Do not throw it in the garbage in this form for the same reasons.

  25. The most important is the seatbelts or crates…never travel without your dog in a seatbelt or secured crate!!!! Keeping the dog secure during a crash or rollover is your biggest issue during an accident!

  26. Where do you keep the emergency kit in the car? Glove box? Center Console? Side door? I see a clip attached so I’m wondering what you clip it to?

  27. I have a travel book (simple presentation binder with sleeves to slide papers in) I keep all of my Pixie’s info in and it goes anywhere she goes. My vet complimented me on it and wishes more would do similar things. She is also the vet for our local animal control so sees a lot of displaced peys.

  28. I would take an additional step and laminate the papers or put them in a sealed plastic bag within the pvc. Just an extra step to make sure the paper keeps its integrity.

  29. I too have something similar. I used a fabric pencil case bag (the kind with the three hole punches to put in a notebook) and I hang it on one of the crates. I believe it also contains the number of the person in charge of my breeds Rescue contact. This way, if I’m injured and out of state my dogs would not have to stay long in a shelter. Hopefully the “network” would send out the closest volunteer to keep then until my family or I could retrieve them. Great tips for anyone who hasn’t thought of this before.

  30. Great idea! I will try to make one of these for my dog.

    You must be a plumber:)

    Thanks for this great idea!

  31. This would be good for children also.
    We have luggage tags connected to our twin boys car seat with their name and emergency contact information on them.

  32. Tena,

    I am the newsletter editor for our regional Newf club and I would like to share this article in our next newsletter, and as always, I include credits with any articles I ask to use. I will not alter the article in any way. May I have your permission to include this article in our newsletter? Thank you

    Patti Emmerling

  33. Molly (11:36am on 3/28) has an excellent point about not using a capped PVC pipe as EMT teams will treat it as a potential pipe bomb. Unfortunately, that’s the world we live in today (anyone remember the Unibomber pre-9/11??). However, no one else picked up on this obvious problem & offered an alternative container that could withstand a violent impact. Could crate manufacturers come up with a better container to clip inside the crate?

  34. After hauling children around with a diaper bag, it occurred to me that my dog should have a similar bag. But, I usually leave the dog’s bag in the car. It has a bag of dog food and water bottle that I rotate regularly. A Frisbee that he only uses as a water dish. A ziplock baggie of pics and comments. A few of his toys, pj’s and jacket in case we’re out in weather or stranded. If we’re gone longer than half a day, I bring treats for everyone! We use the double plastic dish for travel, but have stainless steel dishes at home.

  35. Wonderful idea! Between the clear tube and large lettering, i would not expect it to be mistaken for a bomb. I drive an SUV. I’m thinking about clipping it to the back of my headrest so it hangs behind my seat. Chances of someone seeing it are greater than stashed in glove box. It will be water tight in case fire fighters wet down car. I may add bright duct tape to draw attention.

  36. I laminated the bio (half sheet per dog) and included two of the thinnest slip leads and a tiny package of treats, in case they need to be lured to an unfamiliar rescuer.

  37. Besides having all those documents I use MyRoadID tags. ( They have a bunch of different styles of tags for you and your dogs to chose from, neck, wrist, ankle or shoe. Besides having basic information on the tags emergency personnel can either call or go on-line and receive more detailed information (this would what ever you have placed in your emergency contact section, what medicine you take, who to contact, if you travel with dogs. You can make it as detailed as you want. One of my dogs has medicine he needs to take twice a day so I have the medicine listed, Prescription #’s what pharmacy I use. My vets ( reg vet, specialist ). Who to call to come and either get my dogs or ship my dogs to. Plus I have mine & my dogs complete medical information listed. I stated using MyRoadID after I had been ran off the road and read about it in Runners World.

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