We know we should make plans for what happens to our property when we die, but have you considered who will care for your pets if they outlive you? Without thoughtful planning, our beloved pets can be forgotten in the confusion that accompanies the owner’s long-term hospitalization, a move to a nursing home, or the owner’s death. The best-case scenario may be having a neighbor feed and walk the animal until other plans can be made. The worst-case scenario is that a pet is shuffled off to a high-kill shelter.
How can you safeguard your furry friends? The Humane Society suggests the that you identify both a temporary caregiver and a long-term permanent caregiver for your pets.
- Find at least two unrelated, responsible people who are willing to provide a temporary home for your pets. They should know how to access your home, know your pets’ feeding and care routines, the name of your vet, and your plan for your pets.
- Make sure your neighbors, friends, and family know who your temporary pet caregivers are and how to contact them. Pet caregivers should know how to contact each other. You can post this info on the front of your refrigerator or inside a kitchen cabinet.
- Put a “pet alert” card in your wallet with your temporary pet caregiver’s information.
- Post “in case of emergency” notices the doors to your home specifying the number and type of pets inside. These notices will alert emergency response workers.
- Make sure your temporary pet caregivers know how to reach your long-term pet caregiver.
- Include a Pet Trust in your Will or Revocable Trust. Tennessee is one of 40 states that recognize pet trusts. The trust can identify the long-term home for your pets and set aside funds for the food and veterinary care for the pets.
Although it seems obvious, in deciding on either a temporary or permanent pet guardian, consider both your pet’s needs and happiness and the needs and happiness of the caregiver. Don’t surprise the caregiver with the honor of being your pet’s new parent! Have an alternate pet guardian in mind in case your first choice is unwilling or unable to care for your pet when the time comes. You may want to name a no-kill rescue organization as caregiver until your pet can be placed in a new permanent home. Arrangements can be made beforehand with the rescue organization. Funds should be made available to pay for veterinary care, food, and other expenses your animal will incur.
Your death or disability will, of necessity, be a time of great confusion and sadness to your furry companions. With careful planning your pets can spend the remainder of their lives in comfort and peace, surrounded by love.