Statistically speaking, over 6,000 of us will die tomorrow… What will happen to our pets? Probably, not many of us have made arrangements for the care of our fur family. Have you?

None of us would like to see our beloved pets turned over to an animal shelter after our death! We all know that there are as many kill shelters out there as no-kill, and that many shelters are either neglectful of the animals due to time and money constraints, or they put the animals down that seem stressed, sick, anti-social and/or shy. When an unwanted cat or dog is euthanized every eight seconds in this country, the odds are truly against our pets. With no prior arrangements we take a risk that our pets may become abused, neglected or homeless.  There have been many news reports and rescue stories of animals that were simply turned out in the neighborhood by relatives after their owners died!

So what are our options? How can we plan for them?

Two options are a ‘Pets Trust‘ or a ‘Last Will & Testament,’ which are documents requiring legal input. A ‘Pets Trust‘ is much like a trust you make for children where the Trust is funded with assets and a Trustee is appointed to watch over the pet’s caregiver. Legalzoom.com has a ‘Pet Care Trust Agreement’ form that can be found on their website. The other option is to include your pet in your ‘Last Will & Testament. But this comes with it’s own problems. As much as you love your pet, you can’t force it on anyone else. All you can say is you would like “Uncle Earl” to have her. It’s also a good idea to have a substitute “beneficiary”. The chances are the dog will die before you do, so it’s also best to phrase it “any pet I own at my death” not a named animal.

A more affordable option might be a ‘Pets Letter of Wishes‘, a document for pet owners to express their wishes and name a care-giver for their pet in case they should become ill or die. A letter of wishes is quite simply what it says it is ~ a letter from you saying “In the event of my death this is what I would like to happen to my pets… this is who I would like to take care of them… this is how much money should be used to care for them… etc. ” Of course, it’s very important that you discuss this with the persons named prior to writing the letter. The letter should be kept with your will.

And no matter which option you choose, it would be a good idea to write an additional document. One that includes information such as what your pet eats, habits, likes, toys, medical conditions, medical records, and vet information. Be certain to add how your pet behaves with other people, pets, and situations. Is your pet afraid of fireworks or thunder? This would be good knowledge for someone taking over his or her care.

It is also very important to carry a card in your wallet with your pets listed and the address where they can be found. This is important in the case of a sudden death or injury such as a car accident. Make a list of their toys, beds, medications, etc, and where in the house they can be found.

I am sure your pets are a very important part of your life, and sometimes, your whole life! You need to take steps now to insure their well-being if something should happen to you tomorrow!