Have you ever thought of your pets and how you would care for them beyond life? No, not beyond their life, as in how you would say goodbye and choose final arrangements, but beyond your life! A recent story in Yahoo! News talks about a cat in Italy named Tommaso who just inherited $13 million dollars!
Most of us don’t have that kind of money to provide for our pets once we’re gone. But is this idea something we should consider? In the exhibit hall at IVECCS this past fall, I came across a group called 2nd Chance 4 Pets. You would think that this is a rescue group, giving animals a second chance at life. Well, sorta. They are actually a non-profit group that helps people provide for the care of their pets when they die or become seriously ill. Here’s the deal: Over 500,000 companion animals each year are euthanized or relinquished to U.S. shelters when their owners die or become disabled. That’s a lot of animals!
This group, which you can find online at www.2ndchance4pets.org, provides tools to document all of your pet’s needs and who could take care of them short term, or long term. You can detail all of the pet’s medical needs, as well as provide basic information about the animal. The website discusses how to find a caregiver for your pet, and questions to ask potential facilities. It also discusses how to create a trust for your pet, to provide the financial means to carry out your wishes.
We all love our pets, and often assume we will outlive our animals. But this is not necessarily the case. As a veterinary professional, I have experienced situations that become heartbreaking times two. At one time, I had a client who was a single woman in her 50s who cared for her diabetic cat that we helped her to monitor. This woman ended up dying alone in her apartment, and was discovered many days later. Her family members brought her beloved cat in to us…not for regulation of the diabetes that had gone haywire, but to euthanize the cat because no one could take care of her. It was heartbreaking to lose that client, someone we knew for years, and doubly heartbreaking to have to euthanize her beloved cat after all she had done for her and how much we knew she loved her pet.
When I came across this organization, it was stunning for me to realize how many animals meet an untimely end just because of the death or disability of their human caregivers. We take on a responsibility to care for our pets when we make a commitment to bring them into our lives, and this is one way to help extend that responsibility in unforeseen circumstances. As their website says, if you find it hard to think about life without your pet, imagine your pet’s life without you.