Providing for Your Pet After You’re Gone

We love our pets dearly, and it saddens us to think of what little time we actually have with them, with their lifespans being so much shorter than our own. Typically, we outlive our pets, but what if that’s not the case? Have you thought about what would happen to your pet if something were to happen to you? Have you taken the time to make arrangements for your canine or kitty companion to ensure he is protected? Should you become seriously ill or injured, and unable to care for your pet, or if you should pass away, it is critical that you have plans in place.


Providing for Your Pet

Designate a willing, responsible friend or family member to care for your precious pet. Speak with those closest to you (and, preferably, already familiar with your pet) and decide who is most willing and able to serve as an emergency caregiver should something unexpected happen to you. Give that person keys to your home and a list that includes important information such as the name and phone number of your veterinarian, your pet’s feeding and care instructions, and the locations of your pet’s leash, food, toys, bedding, etc.

Carry an alert card in your wallet. Make a wallet-sized card that specifies you have a pet at your home who will need care. Include the name and contact information for your pet’s emergency caregiver, as well as your pet’s name.

Make formal care arrangements for your pet. Of course, no one wants to think about their own passing, but advanced arrangements should be made for your pet in case something happens to you. Sometimes, it’s just not enough that your family member or close friend promised to take care of your pet. Things happen ~ people lose touch, relocate, change their minds, have kids… To be on the safe side, and to ensure your pet is cared for in your absence, make formal arrangements to cover his sufficient care. You may find it necessary to work with a lawyer to draft a special will, pet trust, or other legal document that details the specific care and guardianship of your pet, as well as the dollar amount needed to sufficiently care for him. However, keep in mind designating a guardian in your will may not be enough. Wills divide property; they do not serve as custody agreements and your wishes may or may not be followed. And, who will take care of your pet until your will is enacted?

To safeguard your pet with care according to your wishes, it is recommended that pet parents complete and file with the courts a Pet Protection Agreement, a simple agreement that allows you to designate a pet guardian to take care of your pet, and gives you the ability to leave funds to care for your pet in the event you cannot do so yourself.

Many pet parents consider their pets to be family members, an integral part of life who we care for and love. In the same way that responsible parents plan ahead for the care of their children, plans should be made for furry family members. After all, they provide you with unconditional love and affection every day; it’s up to you to ensure they receive the same, even if you’re not there to provide it for them.


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