Planning for your pet's futureTypically, pet parents outlive their precious pets, but what if that’s not the case? Have you considered what would happen to your pet if you were not around to care for him? Have made arrangements for your canine or kitty companion to ensure he is protected when you’re gone? In the event you become seriously ill or injured and are unable to care for your pet, or if you should pass away, it is critical for your pet’s safety and well-being that you have a plan in place.

Designate a responsible and willing friend or family member to take care of your precious pet if the need arises. Not sure where to begin? Think about the specifics of how you care for your pet, and who in your life would be most willing and able to continue the same level of care in your absence. Some people may not have the time as they’re too busy with their careers and family, while others simply may not want to invite a pet into their home and life. Speak with you believe would be the perfect option for 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 of important information such as the name and phone number of your vet, your pet’s care and feeding instructions, and where they can find your pet’s leash, food, toys, bed, etc. As importantly, be clear with your choice of guardian about your expectations. Let him or her know the amount of time and effort that will be needed to care for your pet in the manner he is accustom, as well as how much money will be needed. Finally, even after you’ve chosen the perfect guardian, it would be wise to designate a back-up in the event your initial choice doesn’t work out for some reason.

If it turns out you have no viable option for a pet guardian from your group of friends and family, you may opt to make arrangements with an individual or organization to foster your pet until a suitable pet parent can be found. Inquire with your veterinarian, dog walker, pet sitter, groomer or local shelter or rescue organization to see if they can foster your pet if and when the need arises.

Carry an alert card in your wallet. Make emergency responders aware that you have a pet in your home who will need care should something happen to you by carrying an alert card in your wallet. Include the name and contact information for your pet’s emergency caregiver(s), as well as your pet’s name, vet information, your home address and any other pertinent information.

Make formal care arrangements for your pet. No one wants to think about their own passing, but advanced arrangements should be made for your pet in the event you leave your pet behind. Sometimes, it’s just not enough that your family member or close friend promised to take care of your pet. Life happens, and people lose touch, relocate, change their minds, have kids, etc. For this reason, it is very important to make formal arrangements to cover your pet’s sufficient care. You may 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 monetary amount needed to care for him. Keep in mind though that designating a guardian in your will may not be sufficient. Wills divide property; they do not serve as custody agreements and your wishes may or may not be followed, at the discretion of those involved.

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

Our pets are part of our family; 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 as well. 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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