Updated: Jun 25, 2021
Over the past few weeks, I have been really thinking about animals who lose their humans.
Why? Because my grandma died.
While my family knew she wasn't well, and elderly.... the discussion of who would take the pets only... sort of happened.
A few months before grandma died, I had asked what would happen with Maya her dog, and Miss Kitty her cat.
My family already had plans for Maya. She was to be adopted by my uncle who has taken care of her for years here and there.
Miss Kitty, on the other hand...
Nobody really had any thoughts or suggestions as to who would take her. At one point, someone commented that they hadn't even thought about her in the event of grandmas passing. Nobody ever really committed to her one way or the other so when grandma did die... Miss Kitty still didn't have anywhere to go and nobody had a plan.
In the days after grandmas passing, I flew home to help my family out. I spent a lot of time with Miss Kitty and tried to sort out where she would go. She is a 13 year old girl, so traveling to my home in a car for three days or on a plane for 7 hours wasn't ideal.
I connected with Miss Kitty to ask her if she had any suggestions or requests of where she wanted to go and to get her input.
She specifically asked not to travel or go to a home where she would be bothered by dogs. So, respecting her wishes, going to my home, wasn't an option.
Over the next week, that was my mission. I was going to find her a home and start the adjustment period with her. Luckily, in the end, my parents adopted her and we easily integrated her into their family of critters but a lot of added stress could have been avoided if this had been discussed prior to grandmas death.
Image: Miss Kitty adjusting well to her new home
The days and weeks following the death of a loved one is hard enough. Trying to scramble and find out where their pets are going to go isn't what you want to be focusing on. Trust me. Not having a plan in place makes it so much harder for everyone and that is why a lot of animals are taken to shelters.
Making a arrangements and thinking ahead for your animals doesn't only help out your pets, it helps out all of those who are left behind who are trying to process their grief and realization that you are no longer here.
For me, it's hard to imagine as a young thirty-three year old, that there is the possibility of me dying before my animals do, but the reality is... everything can change in an instant and I want to make sure I have a plan. My animal companions deserve the best that I can offer them, even in my absence. So I've been working out my action plan in the event that I am no longer capable of caring for my beloved friends.
Here are a few steps to take or think about if you want to think ahead or have a general plan ready in the event that you or a loved one leaves a pet behind or becomes incapable of caring for them
1. Talk to friends and family to see who would be interested in adopting your pets. Have two or three people lined up, but don't necessarily count on them 100%. Have a backup plan.
2. Create an alert card to place in your wallet for your per-arranged family or friend to be notified in the event of your death or incident who can respond quickly in the event of an emergency.
3. Have all medical records printed off and up to date.
4. Have the contact information for your vet easily accessible.
5. Have a pet portfolio with their photo kept with your other important documents that describes each pet's needs
-Behavior around other people/pets/children
-Special dietary or environmental needs
-Vet and medical records
6. Create a trust to assist the new adoptee care for your pet, allocate who would be an appropriate guardian and keep it out of the courts. Pet Trust Lawyer has excellent documents to get you started. A trust will also go into effect immediately- providing care for your pet as soon as you become unable to.
7. Authorize a power of attorney for your pets.
8. Have allocated rescues that you know and trust to be listed as well in the event your chosen guardians are not able to care for your pets.
9. ASPCA has great information as well that you can find here.
If you have other ideas or recommendations to add to the list
please comment below and share your knowledge and experiences. The more prepared we are, the better off our companions will be.