How to Prepare Your Pet for Life Without You

It’s a grim subject, but one you need to consider as a pet guardian.  What would your beloved pet do without you?  Although most people take the precautions necessary to prepare their families for death, few realize how important it is to include their pets in their plans. 

Do you know what would happen to your precious companion if something were to happen to you?  Have you appointed a pet-loving friend or family member as the person to care for them?  If you haven’t, the time to start thinking about this is now.

Here are a few of the ways you can prepare your pet for a life without you:

  1. Make arrangements for two people to be emergency caregivers for your pets in the event that something happens to you.  Make sure that these individuals can access your home, know how to feed and care for your pets, and are willing to provide or find the animals a permanent, loving home if they are not able to keep them themselves.  Your veterinarian’s name and number should be provided to your caregivers along with any pertinent information regarding your pets. Make sure they have set of keys to your home.
  2. Post notices on your doors and windows alerting people about the animals you have in your home.  Clings can be easily applied to glass and serve as a voice for your pets if you’re not around.  Make sure to note the number and type of animals you have.  This will make it easier for all of your pets to be accounted for when all is said and done. 
  3. Carry a card in your wallet that declares your intentions for your pets in the event of an emergency.  Make sure to include the names and phone numbers of your caregivers on the card.  Don’t forget to note your address, the types of pets you have, their names, the name of their vet and any special needs they might have.
  4. Work with an attorney to provide a legal document that provides for the care and ownership of your pet.  This can be a special will or trust.  Make sure that you’ve set aside enough money to take care of your pet’s needs and clearly state what the funds should be used for.

Determining who will become the guardian of your beloved pets is a hard decision.  You may want to have a "back-up" designated caregiver or two in the event that the person chosen has a life-altering event as well.  If these individuals are your friends, chances are they know how much your pets mean to you. Regardless, it never hurts to drive this point home from time to time. It’s often more difficult to find a home for two or three pets rather than just one, but if you have more than one pet and they have lived together for most or all of their lives, stress how painful it might be for them if they were to be separated. This will help them take on a conscientious role in caring for your dog or cat in the event of an emergency.