We see it every day in animal rescue: An owner dies and no one is willing to take the pets, so they are surrendered to a shelter. It is heartbreaking to think that the animal has not only lost its best friend but now is grieving in a strange and scary place without the comforts of the home they are accustomed to.
Responsible pet owners should put plans into place so pets are cared for in case something happens to them.
Just as with children, a caregiver should be designated for the pets. Talk to family, friends and neighbors and plan who will tend to the pets in the event of an unexpected hospitalization or accident. Make sure the caregiver has access to the home, contact information for the vet and feeding and medication instructions.
While a temporary caregiver can help after an accident or short hospital stay, if a person should become permanently incapacitated or die, a committed caregiver needs to be established for pets for the long term. To ensure pets will be properly cared for in a way you would approve of, a formal arrangement should be put into place to cover their future. This should not a verbal agreement; rather, a special will, trust or other document should be drawn up to provide for care and ownership of the pet as well as the money necessary. Talk to a legal professional to see what type of agreement is right for you.
Do not assume that a family member will step up and take the pets. Have a plan and a backup plan, as circumstances can change for people over time. While someone may agree today to care for your pets, years down the road, they no longer may be able to do so.
Be sure to discuss expectations with potential caregivers so they understand the responsibility and commitment of caring for the pet. The new owner will have the full responsibility and decision-making power for the animal’s care, so make sure to choose a person who will do what is in the best interests of the pet.
To help better prepare for pets in the event of an owner’s death, the Louisiana SPCA is offering two free seminars with Carole Cukell Neff, a board-certified specialist in estate planning and estate administration.
The first seminar, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, will be for pet owners who want to learn more about trusts for their pet’s security and how to incorporate it into estate planning.
The second seminar, 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. June 29, will cater to industry professionals regarding charitable giving techniques including pet trusts. Visit la-spca.org/pettrusts to register.
SUNDAY: Enjoy a Jazzi Brunch Buffet benefiting the Louisiana SPCA featuring bottomless mimosas, unlimited food and live music. It will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Algiers Auditorium, 2485 Guadalcanal St., New Orleans. Tickets are $30 for early registration. Use Promo code LASPCA for 20 percent off. For more information, visit bit.ly/jazzibrunch.
LOST OR FOUND PETS: In Orleans Parish, send a photo, description of the pet, date lost/found and your contact info to email@example.com. In Jefferson Parish, send to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. In St. Bernard Parish, send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Traci D. Howerton is social media editor of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. Contact ARNO at email@example.com, or visit www.animalrescueneworleans.org.