Weirdos- today we are going to dive into an uncomfortable topic. Although it’s tough to talk about death and it seems surreal to consider, it’s an inevitability that nobody lives forever. Sometimes, we may know our time is coming because of an illness, and other times, it’s completely unexpected. In either case, it’s still hard to talk about it and it can be a very emotional conversation to have with the people you love. The reason we’re blogging about this topic right now is because very recently the Weirdos were called into action to facilitate the rescue and immediate placement of two cats that were left orphaned due to their owner’s death. The owner of these cats was named Betty and she lived alone with them in a hotel. Betty passed away and her two cats, Ginger and RC, were discovered by hotel staff. Unfortunately, Betty had not set up any wishes for what was to be done with her cats in the case of her death and they were left without caretakers. Betty’s friend reached out to the Weirdos and with a lot of help from us, Riggi Rescue, and police officers who let us into the hotel to get the cats, we were able to get them placed at the APL to be adopted out together. You can read more about this rescue under our Success Stories section of our website.
Ginger and RC are far from unique when it comes to situations under which animals end up coming into a shelter or rescue. Too many times our fur babies are overlooked by our friends and family and not kept around to get the same continued care and love that we had been providing for them.
So, what do you need to do in order to make sure your most prized possessions, your fur babies, aren’t left alone without caretakers in the event of your death? If you haven’t considered it before now, don’t wait any longer.
The very first step would be to reach out to your most trusted friends or family members and discuss with them that you’d like them to take over care of your pets in the event of your death. It is crucial that you know that the people you’d want to take care of your pets are willing to take them. Make sure they’re on board! It would be terrible if you had someone in mind but never let them know, and then upon your death they turn away the request and cast aside your pet. Make sure you talk in detail about the type of care you provide for your pets currently, and the time and expense it would require them to take on the care of your pet. They should know what vet you use, what kind of food they eat, and any other details that are part of your pet’s daily care. This conversation, depending on if you’re facing a terminal illness and know that your time is limited, or if you’re doing this just as a safeguard for whenever it is to happen, could be ongoing and perhaps ever-changing. If you talk to a best friend and they agree to take in your one cat you currently have in the case of your death, but then three years later you’ve adopted two more cats- check in with your friend and make sure they’ll still willing to take over care now that there are three to take care of instead of just one!
Now, secondly, you’d want to make things official and not just based off of a verbal agreement with your friend or family member. You’d want to reach out to an attorney and work out the details of who you would leave as caretaker for your pets. You should include in your will- which is a legally bound contract- who you want your pets to be left with so that way there is no confusion. Another good idea is to set up a trust- this is a place where your money and assets are laid out and that immediately upon your death can be allocated to the people who take over the care of your pets. It’s a good idea to set aside money that will be given to the new caretakers so they have a little less financial burden on their hands with the new pets in their possession. Something to think carefully about is the fact that wills can take several weeks to months to actually be carried out because of legal constraints. Having a “temporary” emergency foster set up for your animals in the meantime would be a very good idea. Make sure your trusted friends or family members have keys to your household and could come and go to take care of your pets as your estate is settled through the courts.
While I hope that this blog finds you currently in good health and that worrying about this type of thing is far from soon, I still think it’s very important to start these considerations as soon as possible. For more information on the legality involved with setting up a will and trust specifically regarding your precious pets, I encourage you to visit the webpage for the Humane Society of the United States. They have more tips and information on how to go about including them in your final wishes and working with your attorney to make sure everything is set up the way you want them to be.