A new year sets the stage to look ahead. After all the “Auld Lang Syne”, all the, who did we lose, and how did I do, is over and best forgot, it’s time to plan out our future. And that future should include your pets. And I don’t just mean setting up regular vet appointments, or deciding to buy a healthier brand of dog food or taking longer walks (all of which you should, of course) but have you given any thought to that one big ‘unthinkable?” Your know, that unspoken Bull Mastiff in the room?
No? Then I’ll ask.
Have you made any arrangements for someone to take care of your beloved four-footed companion, should, dog forbid, something happens to you?
Yeah, I know. Lovely thought, but an essential one.
An estimated 71.4 million U.S. households are home to at least one pet. But what happens to them after we’re gone? Unless you make prior arrangements, your good buddy could wind up in an animal shelter, where they face the great possibility of being put to sleep.
Okay, lets say you’ve already spoken with friends and/or (friendly) relatives who have agreed to take your pal into their homes, but can you really be confident this agreement will be carried through? Ask yourself: Does this person really care about your dog, or are they agreeing just because they are your friend? Do they have a dog or care about dogs in general? Yes? So far so good.
Then there is their own home situation. Do they have the room, physically and emotionally to bring a little stranger into their homes during a period of grieving your loss and beyond? Does their pet(s) get along with yours? Does your dog like them?
And are they financially established enough to absorb the addition cost s of caring for your little buddy? The average dog or cat costs an estimated $1,000 a year in food and vet bills, alone. So, even if they fit the bill in all the above considerations, the strain of an additional financial burden could force them to change their minds after the mourning period has passed and drop your little buddy off at a shelter.
Again, I know, not fun thoughts. But all too often good intentions are allowed to slip away (i.e.: your buddy) once reality to a long-term commitment sinks in. You know, stepping on those well-chewed rag toys you so enjoyed watching little Pedro tug on and leave all over the house. Your well-intentioned benefactor may have a different reaction to that soggy rag on their kitchen floor. Friendship as a basis for future care can only be trusted so far.
So, what should you do?
Set up a Pet trust.
A legal pet trust provides funds for your dog to be cared for that will help your friend keep him in their home. It pre-arranges (and pays) for on-going veterinary care expenses and food costs. And it can specify which Vet, what care and when it is ‘ alright to let him go.’ And, if your friend becomes unable to continue care, for whatever reason, a Pet Trust also looks beyond to alternate long-term care.
Before going the legal route, go ahead and ask people you trust if they would be willing and able – do they have room, the right attitude, the loving touch, and enough money – to take your dog if the unspeakable happens.
If there is no one who will be your dog’s guardian, then check out organizations in your area that will be there for Pedro. Many animal shelters and organizations like the San Francisco SPCA have “Guardian Care” programs. South Bay, check with the Humane Society Silicon Valley as a starter, or one of the many specialized groups who find homes for specific breeds (It would help if you include a donation for their efforts).
Other options regionally would be the TLC for Pets Program at the University of California, Davis. Be forewarned that this program is very expensive, ($50,000 per dog) but includes any necessary medical care, including surgery, and your pet’s care is guarenteed. Furthermore, should funds remain after your dog passes, the money is used to assist other pets.
Whether you choose a friend and/or an organization to care for your trusting companion, assure his future by having a legal Pet Trust.
To help you out, consider obtaining a copy of, “Every Dog’s Legal Guide: A Must-Have Book for Your Owner.” by noted Berkeley author, Mary Randolph. You can obtain a copy by going to Nolo legal publishing. Note: The book is on sale right now a 40% off until 2/3/2011.
Want more detail? Read the article by Nola Publishing: > Providing for Your Pet After You Die
Whew. Well, now that we’ve gotten the idea into your mind, give your doggie a loving pat on the head to let him know everything is going to be okay. Then, go ahead:
‘Make his stay’ – be assured.
Woof for Now
Wrapping my arms around all things Dog.