Death and taxes are an inevitable part of life! So, does your will include your pets? Locked down is our present and from all accounts a sizeable part of our future. What this means for us, globally or locally is a lot of time at home. Work and learn from home in a modified form is here to stay. In our foreseeable futures is cautious movement and a slow return to routine. Where do our pets fit into this lock down future?
The internet is flooded with pet advice blogs, columns and websites. Most of them great sources of information you can easily access. In parallel to these informative articles and resources are countless appeals from shelters, fosters and friends to adopt abandoned cats and dogs. And now the appeals include orphaned pets.
Lock down life means families are looking for ways to entertain themselves and many believe they can give a dog or cat a loving home. But remember it takes a lot more than love of a dog or cat to provide for them. And what happens to them if you and your family are not around to care for them?
Our Covid reality (history will record these as ‘Covid years’) mean many of dogs and cats are and will be orphans. They have lost their entire family to the coronavirus. This is tragic when it befalls a human child or pet. Both are helpless and at the mercy of extended family or the kindness of strangers. In the case of children a government machinery ensures they have recourse to dedicated homes and shelters. However, for our pets there is no law or agency to automatically step in and take care of them.
Do you remember when an emergency kit for your pet was sufficient? As you and your pets live through a pandemic- are your pets in your will? Life has always been uncertain, but now uncertainty knocks at every front door. We’re staring at a generation of orphaned children and pets.
These are the realities we must confront. When you include your pets in your will and ask yourself a few questions – like- who ‘inherits’ them? Do you have a friend, colleague or family member committed to taking over your pets? What about if your pet is orphaned?
Does your will include long and short term plans for your pets? Be practical, if your pet is orphaned there is an immediate need- food, shelter and daily care. Your appointed caretakers may be unable to provide long term care, so plan for the future. Families with kids are a great option if your pet is child friendly. Children and dogs as well as cats have a special way of helping each other overcome grief.
Health records are vital, maintain a file of your pets health records with contact numbers of vets, dog walkers or play groups. This is a good practice at anytime, but takes on special significance in these uncertain times. If you have a senior pet, this is especially important. Is your pet is on medication? Keep a supply in your emergency kit. Keep a detailed list of medical procedures and needs. If your pet is disabled, have instructions handy of their daily care routine. For differently abled pets their physiotherapists are one of the most important contacts to include. Many animals develop close bonds with these caregivers, who can play a vital role in their emotional healing.
Choose a person or organisation who will be sensitive to an orphaned pets emotional and physical well-being.
Coronavirus is an indiscriminate destructor. It does not spare age, skin colour, or economic status. It has united countries and continents as ordinary citizens perform extraordinary feats they did not know they were capable of. Throughout, our dogs and cats have been silent witness – we owe them the security of a safe place and caring people if we are no longer able to care for them.
Where and how do you begin to make a will for your pets? If you want to ensure unscrupulous persons do not misuse funds left for your pets, speak to your lawyer. A will is a legal document, it is a statement of intent of what you would have done if you were alive! When you leave a sum of money or instructions for your pets care, be specific, be factual and do not let your emotions cloud your decision making.
Points to consider
1. Allocate a specific amount of funds
2. Who will administer these funds?
3. How are the funds to be used?
4. Where do they live?
5. Who will be responsible for their daily care and needs?
Always leave instructions in writing with no room for ambiguity.
The HSUS website has some great in depth advice from experts on how to make an effective will. You cannot foresee every detail, but, you can try and cover all avenues. Pets are traumatised when they loose their family, try and make the transition as smooth as possible.