Animal Poison Control Centers (cont.)

Cost: Depending on which option is chosen, the charge is $20.00 for the first five minutes, then $2.95/minute thereafter when using the 900 number. If you use the 800 number, the charge is $30.00 per case (VISA, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express only). With the 800 access, only the NAPCC will do as many follow-up calls as necessary in critical cases and, if you wish, will consult with your veterinarian.

What to do if an animal has been poisoned: Immediately call the NAPCC. Be ready to provide:

  • Your name, address, and phone number
  • Information concerning the exposure (the amount of agent, the time since exposure, etc.), and if the agent is part of the Animal Product Safety Service, the consultation is at no cost to the caller. It is very important to provide accurate information on the agent.
  • The species, breed, age, sex, weight, and number of animals involved.
  • The agent the animals have been exposed to, if known; and
  • The problems the animals are experiencing.

The ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center

The National Animal Poison Control Center of the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) can be reached by calling 1-888-4ANI-HELP (1-888-426-4435). The Center consults with animal owners, veterinarians, and others about poisoning exposures and other toxicology issues.

Resources: The ASPCA/NAPCC phones are answered by licensed veterinarians and board-certified veterinary toxicologists 24 hours a day.

History: The Center began operation in the fall of 1978 under the name Animal Toxicology Hotline. At that time, Dr. William Buck, a renowned veterinary toxicologist at the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and his graduate students started handling calls around-the-clock using a paging service. The only expense to the caller was the call.

The initial focus of the service was to be Illinois, but word of its value spread to other states when the telephone number was broadcast on the Paul Harvey radio show and it appeared on the label of a popular rodenticide. The number of calls from outside of Illinois climbed, and in 1980 the name was changed to Animal Poison Control Center. By 1984, there were far more calls from outside of Illinois than from within. The name was changed to National Animal Poison Control Center (NAPCC) to reflect this national scope.

Cost: Because of University of Illinois budget restraints, on January 20, 1990, the NAPCC began charging for the services it provided. Before this date, callers paid for telephone calls, but the consultations were free. The NAPCC installed toll-free phone lines and accepted major credit cards for payment.

Before Calling the Center: If you suspect that your pet has been exposed to a poison, it is important not to panic. While rapid response is important, panicking generally interferes with the process of helping your animal.