Saturday, February 8, 2014

What Will Happen to Your Pets?

Photo by Veronique Schejtman
It's a difficult topic but: what will happen to your pets if/when you die? Have you made arrangements for them?  None of us likes to think about our own death but we must think about the well-being and safety of our pets.

Nearly every day of the week I receive an e-mail about one or more pets in need of a home because the owner died. Some of these pets are older and the first ones likely to be euthanized if shipped off to a "shelter." What is so hard for me to take when I read this gut-wrenching pleas for help is that the relatives of the person who died haven't cared about the person, only their "things."  The only comfort that person may have had in their life is that four-legged companion, often more than one, and that beloved companion has not only lost their "family," but they have either been thrown outside to fend for themselves and hopefully rescued (I don't want to contemplate how many have been killed by cars, other animals, etc.), or are shipped off to a shelter, still left to fend for themselves and, most likely, to be "put down."  I'm not fond of euphemisms.  Let's call it what it is: they'll be killed.  A lifetime of providing love to their person and that's what they get.  It makes me sick!

I forward the e-mails to people I know in whichever State the cats or dogs are in and ask them to keep forwarding to their friends in hopes that someone will step up.
Photo of Alana by Claire Clayton

Now, look at your own beloved companions.  Have you made arrangements for them in case of your death, no matter how or when it comes?  You should.  Choose carefully and wisely.  Ask the person you trust the most with your companions. If they won't, keep asking people if they will step up.  The person who agrees is the person whose name goes into your will. Do not name your companion(s) in your will because you may have others when you die. Rather than naming names just mention dogs, cats and the name of the person to whom they are to be given and, if you so choose, a sum of money for their care.

Remember that anything can happen to any of us at any time.  If your chosen person predeceases you, choose another person using the same method and add a codicil to your will.  

If there's a chance that someone will contest this, write a letter, or have your lawyer put it into your will, stating why this person is to get the pet(s).  You want to be certain that your wishes are carried out.

Photo of Vinny by Mary Slaney

Please do it now. Don't put it off. Do it now. Do it this week.  Any of us can be hit by a car, run over by a truck, have a heart attack, or a fatal disease. None of us will live forever.  That is the sad truth. But we should carry out our full responsibility to our companions and be sure that their lives will continue in the way you want, with the person you feel will take the best possible care of them.  Don't let your companions become the victims in your death. It's bad enough that they will be left grieving for you. And, yes, pets do grieve.  

Provide for them now. While you can.


Gary Rohde said...

Thanks for reminding us about something we so often forget about.

Darlene said...

Thank you so much, Gary. I know it's hard to think about it but it's truly important.

rescuegal said...

Thanks for the reminder, Ms. Arden. This does seem to be one of the most neglected areas of consideration when it comes to our companion pets, yet it is truly one of the most important.

I, too, receive those pleas for help with pets whose owners have passed away. I will never understand why the remaining family doesn't step up to care or make sure care is provided for these animals. To me that would be one of the final things they could do to honor their loved one.

At any rate, we all need to make sure we have care for our pets in the event of our death and unfortunately, many of us need these kind of reminders to get it done.

Darlene said...

Thank you so much for your comments, Rescuegal. I don't understand why remaining family doesn't step up to care for the pets or make sure care is provided for them. It's one of my "pet" peeves. Better to be sure they're provided for and not depend upon family or just pretend the issue doesn't exist and convince yourself that you won't die. Providing for them now is important.