An estimated 100,000 to 500,000 pets enter shelters each year because owners become incapacitated or die. Many of these pets are seniors and extremely difficult to place. When they are old, they are in need of some love and may be interested in the best dog toys, even if they are old they will still want to play. Here are some ideas to ensure your pet is always safe and loved:
Find two families (one as a backup) to serve as emergency caregivers. Give their contact information to your family, vet and neighbors.
Provide caregivers with home access details, feeding/care instructions, vet information and long term care provisions.
Carry a wallet alert card with the contact information for emergency caregivers.
Side note: For fire or home response personnel, post decals on front/back windows of number and type of pets in the home.
Long Term/Permanent Care
Select caregivers who have successfully cared for pets themselves. Always name alternate caregivers should your first choice becomes unwilling or unable to help.
If you have more than one pet, determine if you need more than one caregiver.
Don’t assume your children will take the pet; children surrendering a parent’s pet is commonplace.
Reaffirm the caregiver’s commitment annually. Over time people’s circumstances change so you may need to make different arrangements.
Put in writing the agreed upon expectations and your temporary and permanent caregiver’s consent. Give this document to family, attorney and your vet.
A will that includes pet placement and financial allowances is recommended.
Pet trusts are expensive to draft and administer but they add a layer of oversight. A trustee distributes money to the caregiver and may monitor your pet’s health and living conditions.
Entrusting Your Pet to an Organization
Some organizations will guarantee to care for or re-home your pet for a fee. This should be your last choice as the pet will live in a shelter environment, which is stressful especially for seniors or pets with medical conditions. You will find that some shelters will have some home security camera for pets installed, so you can always be close to your little friend over video.
Visit the organization to learn how pets are cared for, where they are confined, when they are socialized/exercised and policies regarding placement with a new family.
Choose a well established organization with a good record of finding responsible homes quickly. Put the arrangements in a legal document and make sure there are placement alternatives if that organization fails to exist or perform when needed.