A few months ago, Melissa and I were faced with a terrible situation. A long-time client, actually my very first client from when I started All Critters, passed away suddenly while she was out of town visiting family. At the time, her cat and dog were in our care. A very sad and tragic event was made much worse by the fact that she never made any prior arrangements for her pets in case something like this were to happen. This left us and her family trying to figure out what to do with them (and her family wanted nothing to do with them)…not an easy task with two senior pets, both of them with health issues.
Most of us never expect anything like this to happen to us this week, next month or next year. We think something like this is years away and we have all the time in the world to set something up. Our client was in her early 60s, reasonably healthy as far as we knew, and should have been around for many more years. Planning ahead for your pet(s) care in case you pass away suddenly or can no longer look after them doesn’t have to be a terribly complicated thing to do and we’re going to go over a few of your options here.
The simplest and easiest thing you can do is to find a trusted friend or relative, preferably two, that you know 100% will look after your pets if something were to happen to you. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll take them in and give them a forever home, but it does mean they’ll do everything it takes to make sure that your pets are cared for until they are in a safe/forever place. You should discuss this with them in detail beforehand and have something in writing that you’ve signed (preferably notarized) stating that you’ve chosen this person (or persons) to continue their care in the event that something happens to you. Make sure they have keys to your home, complete feeding and care instructions, your vet’s information and any other information they might need. It’s also a good idea to make sure 1 or 2 neighbors and your family has the contact information of those you’ve chosen to step in. That way, on day one, they can step in and continue their care without interruption.
Other, more legally binding, solutions are wills, trusts, power of attorneys or perpetual care programs. I won’t really get into them since I’m not an attorney, but setting something up through an attorney would be your best best, by far, if you can. Do your research on all of your available options to make the best decision that’s right for you and your situation.
Ever since the incident with our client I’ve felt so bad and wished things had gone more smoothly for all of us involved, especially her pets. She loved them both so very much and I know it would have killed her to know their care was in limbo the way it was after she passed. I hope this gets a few of you to start thinking about “what ifs” and maybe starting to put a plan into place for if/when something does happen so this doesn’t happen to your pets.