Some people have never considered what might happen to their beloved pets in the event they are no longer able to care for them. Some make arrangements with family members or friends, however anything in life can happen and usually it does. Life situations change and the ones we counted on might not be able to make the commitment when the time actually comes. Can you really depend on your family to love and care for your pets after you are gone? Have you made arrangements for long term care for your pets? If you want to ensure their happiness and well being after you are gone you’ll need to set this up ahead of time. Don’t leave it to chance.
Some people can depend on family and know this without any doubts, however it is always good to have a back-up plan in writing in the event your family or friends can’t. This should be a legal document included in your will and trust. You should have several reliable options for your family to choose from. In your will you should also elect someone to oversee your wishes and to insure the pet care provider is caring for your pets as you requested. Whoever handles your estate planning can help you with the proper documents. Make sure to keep the documents updated.
Things to consider:
What can I do now to prepare for the unexpected?
• Find at least two responsible friends or relatives who agree to serve as temporary emergency caregivers in the event that something unexpected happens to you. Provide them with keys to your home; feeding and care instructions; the name of your veterinarian; and information about the permanent care provisions you have made for your pet.
• Make sure your neighbors, friends, and relatives know how many pets you have and the names and contact numbers of the individuals who have agreed to serve as emergency caregivers. Emergency caregivers should also know how to contact each other.
• Carry a wallet “alert card” that lists the names and phone numbers of your emergency pet caregivers.
• Post removable “in case of emergency” notices on your doors or windows specifying how many and what types of pets you have. These notices will alert emergency-response personnel during a fire or other home emergency.
How can I ensure long-term or permanent care for my pet if I become seriously ill or die?
The best way to make sure your wishes are fulfilled is by making formal arrangements that specifically cover the care of your pet. It’s not enough that a friend verbally promises to take in your animal or even that you’ve decided to leave money to your friend for that purpose. Work with an attorney to draw up a special will, trust, or other document to provide for the care and ownership of your pet as well as the money necessary to care for them.
How do I choose a permanent caregiver?
First, decide whether you want all of your pets to go to one person, or whether different pets should go to different people. If possible, keep pets who have bonded with one another together. When selecting caregivers, consider partners, adult children, parents, brothers, sisters, and friends who have met your pet and have successfully cared for pets themselves.
Also name alternate caregivers in case your first choice becomes unable or unwilling to take your pet. Be sure to discuss your expectations with potential caregivers so they understand the large responsibility of caring for your pet. Remember, the new owner will have full discretion over the animal’s care—including veterinary treatment and euthanasia—so make sure you choose a person you trust implicitly and who will do what is in the best interests of your pet. Stay in touch with the designated caregivers and alternates. Over time, people’s circumstances and priorities change, and you want to make sure that the arrangements you have made continue to hold from the designated caregivers’ vantage points.
Can I entrust the care of my pet to an organization?
Most humane/rescue organizations do not have the space or funds to care for your pet indefinitely and cannot guarantee that someone will adopt your animal, although some may be able to board and care for your pet temporarily until he can be transferred to his designated caregiver. There are, however, a few organizations that specialize in long-term care of pets of deceased owners. For a fee or donation, these “pet retirement homes” or “sanctuaries” may agree to find your pet a new home or care for your pet until she dies. If you decide to entrust the care of your pet to an organization, choose a well-established organization that has a good record of finding responsible homes quickly.