What would you want to happen to your pets if you were physically or mentally unable to care for them?
That very situation presented itself today when a longtime client was hospitalized and not expected to recover.
Fortunately, his sister will be able to care for the three cats in her home. They will continue to be a family unit, plus they won’t go to the homes of total strangers.
How does one convey his wishes for care of one’s pets?
While “have a will” might seem like the obvious answer, and is probably the ultimate decider, keep in mind that days, more likely weeks will pass after a loved one dies before a will is opened and read.
Indeed, we must convey our wishes to one, or preferably more, trusted friends and relatives while we are still physically and mentally competent. The first step is to ask people about their willingness to participate. Some might be eager to take a pet or two, while others may wish only to facilitate the animals’ transfer to a new home.
In a letter or e-mail to each willing helper, outline exactly what you would like to see happen, keeping your wishes realistic. For example, if you have three or more pets, it will likely be difficult to find a home that will take all of them.
In an emergency situation the people assigned to care for your pets must be able to find their instructions. Include in your letter or e-mail guidance for them to keep their notices in a safe place. One advantage of e-mailing your instructions is that e-mails saved in a folder are searchable, so a search for “Joe’s pets” would quickly bring up the instructions. Likewise, e-mailing the instructions as an attachment would allow your assistants to move the attachment into their word processor, Word or Word Perfect, name it “InCaseOfJoesDeath.txt” and it will be easily found.
In addition, print a copy (or several) and keep them where your pet’s food, leashes, shampoos, heartworm preventive and other medications are. Assistants searching for these items should be able to easily spot your last requests for your pets.
See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.