Monday, August 7, 2017

If our pets survive us, then what happens?

Might as well think of such things in the bright light of summer (if this rainy season will ever include such a thing), instead of tackling the subject during dreary winter. OK, here goes: we should assure our pets’ futures in case we check out before they do or in case we become unable to care for them. It’s only right and we should do it. Period.

Here are some thoughts and specifics on this un-fun and painful, but necessary subject. We owe it to our pets to plan for their futures if, as the saying goes, “something happens to us.”  Well, something’s definitely going it happen – the only question is when. And our pets need to be protected.

So if or when we’re not there for them, who will be? Read on for a few possible answers to the question, “If you’re not there, who will care?”

1-- a trusted friend or relative, preferably one who knows the pet(s) and definitely one who understands what we want for them (e.g., a home setting; assured regular vetting).  It’s not enough to say “take care of them” and assume everyone’s on the same page. I once read about a “friend” who took care of them – by having them euthanized!

2 – a provision in a will or a trust for pets. Both options probably require a lawyer’s involvement.

3 –accommodation for the pets at a “sanctuary” or a “pet retirement home” -- a trusted place where, for a fee, the pets will live out their lives in comfort or in some cases, be re-homed. The Guardian Angel program at Tabby’s Place, a cat sanctuary in Ringoes, is one example of such a facility. (

4 – a veterinarian or other “animal practitioner,” preferably one who knows the pet(s) and whose facility includes space where they can live and be cared for. By that, I do not mean cages – pets who have the run of the house with us should never wind up in cages when they’re without us.  This is another occasion when making expectations crystal clear is absolutely vital for our pets’ futures.
Besides books on this subject, there’s also excellent advice online. The Petfinder site incorporates some basics from the Humane Society of the US, while HSUS material includes a printable PDF detailing the whole concept of planning for our pets’ futures.  Here’s a link to Petfinder:

As with preparing a disaster kit for our pets as well as for ourselves (a topic I’ve researched and written about, and teamed up to do), planning for our pets’ futures can seem like an overwhelming job. But if you break it down into steps or sections and schedule time to do it piecemeal, it can be done – and you’ll be a happy pet parent.

For a future-planning finale that’s either macabre or comforting, we may soon have the option of joint interment with our pets -- something that’s now legal in New York State.

Rest in peaceful togetherness.


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  1. It seems most of us think our pets will pass before we will and never think about the consquences if we pass before them. This is something to think about and do as soon as one can arrange for family or close friends to step in and to know what we would want for our pets. Joyce Allington

    1. Nothing is more sad than hearing that an animal in the shelter is there because her/his person died and no one stepped in to care for the pet. Such animals are desolate, disoriented, scared, . . . . to have suddenly moved from a home to a cage!