A 501(c)(3) Charity created to help, support, and save animals and their rescuers.

Inconvenient Truths

Everyone dies eventually.  Sound depressing, doesn’t it?  But it’s a fact of nature.  While we never like to think about our own mortality, making a plan for that unavoidable eventuality is necessary.

As we get older, we generally start planning for what will happen to our possessions and assets when our time comes.  But no matter your age or financial status, everyone should have a plan for what should happen if something happens.  While we may immediately think about things like “Who will get my car?” or “Who will get my house?” another important question a lot of people forget is Who will take care of my pets?

Most importantly, never assume that “someone” will adopt your pets.  Discuss this with friends and family members.  You may be surprised to find out that the person you thought would most likely take your dog, cat or bird has a reason that they can’t.  Allergies, pets of their own that would not be amenable to another pet in the home, financial constraints, rental restrictions and many other reasons could proclude someone from taking in your now homeless beloved companion.  If you find that person who says “yes, I would happily take Scruffy if something happens to you” that’s wonderful news. When writing your will, make sure to include that agreement.  Your lawyer can help you prepare that.  Pets are family members, but by legal standards, they are considered Personal Property.  Like any other personal property being bequeathed to someone, your pets should be bequeathed as well.  While in most circumstances, we are lucky to find someone we know and trust to take in our pets, in rare circumstance, arguments about who gets to keep Scruffy can become contentious.  Spelling out your wishes in your will avoids many problems.

At this point you may be asking “But Rex, what if I don’t have anyone to take my pets when I leave this earthly plain?”

(Well, maybe not in those exact words, but you get the gist.)

And the answer to that is not always simple.  Start by contacting an animal rescue organization or no-kill shelter in your area.  Some rescue organizations can help you prepare and give you some peace of mind by setting up a plan for your pets.  Your local Humane Society may also have help and suggestions.  Pre-planning with an organization avoids last minute scrambling or dumping of your pets by your friends or family members.  Be sure to leave instructions for them should something happen to you.  Leaving funds aside for a donation to whatever group is willing to take responsibility for your pets is helpful and thoughtful and should be done whenever possible.  Have any pre-arrangements in writing!  Don’t leave family, friends or neighbors guessing what they should do.  If you have a lawyer, make sure they have that information as well.  We know not everyone can afford a lawyer, or has money to donate or leave behind for pet care.  In those cases, it is vitally important to have your pre-arranged plan in writing and given to someone you trust, and if you don’t have anyone at all, make sure your local animal control has the information.  Don’t leave the fate of your pets up to “the system”.  

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