Thursday, August 8, 2013

Pet Planning

I’m going to be climbing up on a soapbox here.  Now, you’ve been warned, so don’t complain, but please do hear me out.  It’s a good soapbox.

Yesterday I picked up these two cats from the county shelter, which is a kill shelter, to take them to the no-kill shelter one county over.  The cats had been adopted from the no kill shelter, but wound up back in the kill shelter when their owner died and the family didn’t want them.  The no-kill shelter’s policy is to take back pets that were adopted from them in a case like that.  The boys were obviously stressed, but will hopefully be re-adopted soon.

However, there was a third cat, who wasn’t adopted from the no-kill shelter.  She also ended up in the kill shelter when the owner died.  She’s still there because the no-kill shelter is full.  We’re networking her, and I have a friend who may be able to take her, but right now she’s in the kill shelter, with limited time.  Based on the boys’ demeanor, I imagine she’s frightened, and she doesn’t even have a buddy with her.  The boys at least have each other.

The cats were in very good condition when I saw them; their coats and eyes looked good, they didn’t have fleas, and were well fed.  It appears that they had a good home before their owner died and everything changed.  The folks at the kill shelter said they were brought in by animal control because the family didn’t want anything to do with them.   So that’s what brings me to today’s topic of planning for your pets, so that they still have a good home, even if something happens to you. 

A couple of years ago hubby and I attended a pet planning workshop at the no kill shelter.  It was put on by the shelter, a pet cemetery owner, and a local attorney.  It was free and the email announcement about it was a real attention grabber; it had pictures of really cute fur kids and said something along the lines of, “If something happens to you today, what happens to me tomorrow?”  So we decided to attend the workshop.

It was sort of sad, very enlightening, and absolutely worth our time.  The folks from the shelter said that most of the time people don’t really think about what will happen to their pets if something should happen to them, or they just assume that their family will take them.  The attorney said that “valuable” pets could be fought over, and the pet cemetery owner said some folks actually euthanize grandma’s dog to be buried with her.

There was also discussion about all of the practical things that someone willing to take on your pet might not know about if you haven’t made the proper arrangements: their vet, dietary issues, medications, behavior issues, etc.  They also really drove home the point that shelters are full and thousands of adoptable pets are euthanized every single day.  Pets whose owners have died without making arrangements for them probably aren’t going to fare well.  

We were told that the way to go about making arrangements for your pets varies from state to state, so you need to check and see how it’s best handled in your area.  It is definitely something that needs to be handled. 

Fortunately for us, North Carolina addresses the issue of pet arrangements, so our pets are included in our will.  We have a first and second choice for each fur kid, with the no kill shelter as the back-up for all five fur kids.  We’ve talked to everyone we’d want a pet to go to and made sure they’re alright with taking on the pet we had in mind.  We (hubby) have also created a spread sheet that lists everyone’s vet with their contact information, medical issues, behavior issues, current food, and any medications.  We’ve also made sure that the people involved know where to find this information and how to get in touch with anyone they may need to. 

I’ll be honest; it’s a little weird to think about something happening to both of us.  It’s not the most comfortable conversation to have when you talk to someone about taking care of your pet if something happens to you.  Some people think it’s a little morbid.  I like to think of it as being prepared.  Yes, hubby and I are young, but things happen.  No one is promised seeing a ripe old age.  We promised the fur kids we’d take care of them for the rest of their lives.  If that happens to be longer than the rest of ours I like knowing that they’ll be cared for.  

So, please, if you have pets, make the necessary arrangements for their care in the event of something happening to you.  I'll climb down from my soapbox now.


  1. GREAT post, Danielle! This stuff is so important. We've had many animals end up at our shelter after their owners passed away. At least it is a no-kill shelter; it horrifies me to think of the beloved pets that aren't so lucky...

    1. Thank you! I do hate to think about the pets that end up in that situation.

  2. You know, I see this every day. An owner dies and a beloved pet is dropped off at the shelter and it NEVER occurred to me to make preparations for my own pets. How dumb am I? We are lucky, we don't have kill shelters in our area. Our shelters actually ship in pups from high-kill states and find homes for them but this is something worth thinking about. I don't know anyone who would take in my any of 6 pets. I'm actually the one who takes in the pets when friends/family can no longer care for them. I need to talk to my family about this asap. They probably wouldn't know to bring them to the Humane Society near me (which is where I would want them to go because they are wonderful) and it's something I need to mention just in case. Thank you for this post! I guess I always assume I am invincible, LOL, but I should know better.

    1. I thought it was so great that the no kill shelter started doing the presentations because I think it is something that a lot of people don't think about.

      That's awesome that you don't have kill shelters there. Unfortunately, they're all too common here. The no kill shelter transports to a few other no kill shelters up north because they can adopt out some of the pets from here so much faster. Maybe one day we'll be there.

      It's easy to be used to being the person who takes in the needy pets. I definitely get that. We're fortunate that we found friends and family who'd be willing to take ours. Though with one cat, I think my sister definitely hopes we live to a very ripe old age. :-)

  3. Something to think about, because yes...I have never considered this topic. And we do have a pet who is like a member of our family: our dog, Socks. So, I called Liv's Father and told him that if the house burned down, etc. and we were all killed except for Socks, that he had to promise to take him. He readily agreed. He's used to me presenting sort of weird scenarios. But, for others who might live is truly a valid premise.

    1. I tend to think of weird scenarios too, so I was glad when we got everything in order for the pets. You just never know.


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