What Happens to Our Pets When We Pass Away?

Just recently several colleges have talked to me about clients, friends or loved ones passing away.  I myself lost my Dad in July 2016.

Let’s face it, we all will die and there is no getting out of it. The dilemma is what happens to our pets when we pass away.  I knew, I would take my dad’s only dog Corky’s into my home, because we talked about it.  His elderly, epileptic cocker spaniel, with separation anxiety, is adjusting to life in our home, with 3 canine siblings and a horse.  We too have made adjustments to our routine to accommodate Corky’s special needs.  After all he is family, we know him well and we are animal people.  Unfortunately this is not always the case for pets that are left behind when their owner passes away.  Pet professionals need to emphasize to pet owners to that they need to plan what will happen to pets in the event of disabling health or death of the owner.  Folks tend to assume their relatives will automatically take their now homeless pets.  Many relatives have a full house of pets, or your pets may not get along with other dogs, cats, rabbits etc.  If your pet has behavior issues, like fear of children, or is not housebroken, the re homing can get problematic.  If you’re pet(s) have health problems that too can make the best intention relative back out of bringing “Fluffy” into their home.  Pets are considered “property” in the state of Arizona.  If you pass away without a legal pet trust or a legal will that specifically provides for your animal’s immediate care and/or placement, your pets could wait for a month or longer before they can be re homed.  If you live in a rented apartment, landlords may take pets to the “pound” so the pets don’t “damage” the landlords’ property.  There are many local professional estate planning services that do pet trusts.  Pet owners need to look into what options are available for their pets should anything happen to them.  Is there a trusted family member or friend that can be relied upon to care for, find a good home for, or a rescue for your pets.  Talk to those people that you would like to take responsibility for your pets to see if they are willing and able to do just that. Owners need to get their wishes in writing so possible caretakers know what to do with pets.  Some rescues and shelters will provide pets with lifetime care for a predetermined monetary donation.  Death will overtake us all, sometimes in the blink of an eye.  No one should deny themselves the joy and companionship of beloved pets because they will die.  Just a little planning can keep you with your pets and your pets’ safe and cared for, if you are no longer able to.

Carrie Seay

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