Last weekend, while attending our annual Wiggle Walk & Run at Brookside Park in Pasadena, I met a dog named Marley. We set up our Wiggle Waggle Wagon with a few of our adoptable dogs enjoying the beautiful morning and hoping to find a home forever. She was hanging out with one of our amazing volunteers, Cheryl, who told me how she ended up in Pasadena Humane.
As it turned out, Marley had been to Pasadena Humane about eight years earlier. Cheryl remembered working with her back in the day when she was just a puppy. She was adopted by someone who loved Marley intensely and gave her a wonderful life. Marley’s gentle and confident nature made it clear that she had been lovingly cared for for years. So why would she end up with us?
Well, sadly, Marley’s beloved owner has passed away. I don’t know if it was sudden or not, but anyway, they hadn’t foreseen what would happen to Marley under the circumstances. So, with no plan in place and no one to take care of her, she found herself at the shelter scared and alone.
Fortunately, Marley did find a home that day after the Wiggle Waggle Walk – so her story had a happy ending. But it got me thinking of all the animals that might not be so lucky in a disaster.
This sad truth is that in the confusion that accompanies a person’s illness, accident, or unexpected death, pets are often overlooked. In some cases, pets are found in the person’s home within days of the tragedy.
To prevent this from happening to your pet, take these simple precautions:
â¢ Find at least two responsible friends or relatives who are willing to serve as temporary emergency caregivers in case something unexpected happens to you. Provide them with the keys to your house; feeding and care instructions; the name of your veterinarian; and information about the ongoing care arrangements you have made for your pet.
â¢ Make sure your neighbors, friends and relatives know how many pets you have and the names and phone numbers of people who have agreed to act as emergency caregivers. Emergency caregivers also need to know how to contact each other.
â¢ Carry an âalert cardâ wallet that lists the names and phone numbers of your emergency pet sitters.
â¢ Post removable âin case of emergencyâ notices on your doors or windows indicating the number and type of animals you have. These alerts alert emergency response personnel to a fire or other home emergency. Pro tip: don’t use stickers; hard-to-remove stickers are often left behind by former residents, so firefighters may assume the sticker is out of date or worse yet, they may risk their lives trying to find a pet that is no longer in the House.
â¢ Post a removable notice on the inside of your front and rear doors listing the names and telephone numbers of people to contact in an emergency.
You may also be wondering how to ensure long-term or permanent care for your pet if something happens to you.
The best way to ensure that your wishes are granted is to also make formal arrangements that specifically cover the care of your pet. It is not enough that it has been a long time since your friend has verbally promised to take your pet or even that you have decided to leave money for your friend for this purpose. Work with a lawyer to draft a special will, trust, or other document to provide for the care and ownership of your pet and the money needed to care for it.
So how do you choose a permanent caregiver?
First, decide if you want all of your pets to be given to one person or if different animals should be given to different people. If possible, keep animals that have bonded with each other. When selecting caregivers, consider partners, adult children, parents, siblings, and friends who have met your pet and have successfully cared for pets themselves.
In addition, appoint other sitters in case your first choice becomes unable or unwilling to take your pet. Be sure to discuss your expectations with potential caregivers so that they understand the great responsibility of taking care of your pet.
Remember that the new owner will have complete discretion over the care of the animal, including veterinary treatment and euthanasia, so be sure to choose someone you trust and who will do what’s right. the best interests of your pet.
Keep in touch with designated caregivers and substitutes. Over time, people’s circumstances and priorities change, and you want to make sure that the arrangements you have made continue to hold up from the point of view of the designated caregiver.
If all else fails, it is also possible to order your executor or personal representative in your will to place the animal with another person or family (that is, in a non-institutionalized framework). Finding satisfactory new accommodation can take several weeks of research, so again, it is important to arrange for temporary care. You should also know and trust your executor and provide helpful, but not unrealistic, instructions in your will.
You must also authorize your executor to spend your estate funds for the temporary care of your pet as well as the cost of finding a new home and transporting the animal to it. The will should also give broad discretion to your executor to make decisions about the animal and spend the estate funds on behalf of the animal.
And by the way, if you need help planning your Will or Trust, we can help. Just visit us at pasadenahumane.giftlegacy.com/
The bottom line is that your pets give you all the unconditional love and support in good times and bad. They are worth taking the time … and much more!
Jack Hagerman is Vice President of Community Engagement at Pasadena Humane.