Several years ago I was at a dinner for Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue. The dinner was held at a restaurant for which I used to work. Jennifer, our waitress that night, asked if I knew anyone wanting a dog. It turned out her sister had been killed in a car accident just a few days before and her dog was needing a new home. Jennifer and Kathy both had worked at the restaurant when I did and it was a shock to think that Kathy, a pretty, intelligent, vital young woman was gone. It only takes a second. The dog, being a mix, could not be listed with SPDR, so I gave Jen the only suggestions I had. I told her if all else failed to take him to the Humane Society where he'd have the best chance. (note: the dog did find a good new home!).
The point of all this is, it brought home the fact that life is so uncertain. We tend to think of arrangements in the event of our dogs' demise. But what of our own? Are we all prepared to place our pets if we should leave this earth before them?
With the Millennium coming up, it may be practical for us to take the time NOW to provide for our pets. Casual, verbal agreements with friends or relatives just won't cut it. We owe it to our precious animals to make sure they will continue to be as comfortable and loved as when we were here.
Some things to consider:
1) If you don't have a will -- get one immediately! Every one of legal age should have one, even if it's just a "simple" will which is the least expensive. Don't think wills are just for the elderly or people with large families to consider.
2) Make a list of trusted friends or relatives who can and will take care of your pets. The decision of who will take them should be as well thought-out as possible. Take an SPDR adoption application as a guideline.
3) Talk to the trusted friends and relatives and see if they are agreeable. Then get that put into your will. Be as specific as possible ("...Aunt Mary Smith will take Rover the Boxer and Uncle John Brown will take Bowser the Siamese...").
4) Of course -- talk all points over with your attorney so nothing is left out or unclear.
5) If you are able, leave a financial arrangement specified in the will and see that a trusted Executor will carry out your wishes. I believe it is illegal in most, if not all areas to leave money to an animal, but you may leave money to a person specified for the care of that animal.
6) Take an SPDR listing agreement to use as a guideline for leaving the new caretakers information on each animal, such as feeding (times per day, type of food, how much, etc.), training the dog has had, medications, veterinarian of record, etc.
7) Update your will as pets come and go, or as your benefactors change their minds. It wouldn't hurt to check with them at least once a year to make sure they are still agreeable and able.
I know the thought of our own death is a subject most of us would rather not think of. But considering the possibilities of auto accidents, plane crashes, earthquakes and other natural disasters, sudden heart attacks, etc., none of us can feel ourselves immortal. Even should we not die, a debilitating disease or disabling accident could force us to give up our pets.
They do so much for us. It shouldn't be too difficult to assure their comfort in the event we have to leave our pets behind.
Reprinted by permission of the author Copyright 1990, 1999 Nancy E. Phillips , Seattle WA
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