Woodridge Animal Hospital
(630) 985-3101
2009 W. 75th Street, Woodridge, IL  60517
                       dr.amy@woodridgeanimalhospital.com
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How do you ensure your pet will be taken care of as you desire?  
Sometimes all you need to do is talk to the person who you want to care for your pet and let them know your requests.  However, the best idea is to have a formal document drawn up to make your plans clear to everyone.   There are 3 ways to do this:  in your will, a pet trust, or a pet protection agreement.  There is an article from the American Bar Association that does a good job explaining the difference between these options.  Other good articles I found on the topic are:
What would happen to my pet if something happened to me?
Where will they go?  What kind of care will they receive?
Who will become your pet's caregiver?
Most importantly, think about who you trust to care for your pet...  Once you've decided this, think about at least one additional person you'd trust.  You should have at least one back-up.  Situations change and the person who would happily take your dog or cat into your home now may end up in a situation that although they'd like to fulfill your wishes, cannot.  Most people immediately think of friends and family.  Other options could include a good breeder, shelter or rescue (there's even a rescue specific for aged pets), breed specific rescue group, or someone else you'd trust to find a new, suitable home for your pet.  Many times the contract you sign at adoption with a shelter or breeder already includes a provision that if you should at some point no longer be able or willing to care for the pet that it be returned to them.  If it doesn't, you could always talk to them further about the option.
I decided to research this subject and write this article for two main reasons:
  • These concerns keep some people who would provide loving, caring homes from getting another pet.  This made me sad, thinking of both the benefits of pet ownership that these people would miss out on and the pets that would remain homeless as a result.  
  • No one likes to think about it, but something could happen to any of us at any time.  Regardless of your situation now, it's important to think about how you will provide for your pet if you should be unable to care for them either temporarily or permanently.  
These questions don't have to be a worry!   
There are options out there!  
Curly: A story from experience.  Second homes can be wonderful too.
Tim and I adopted Curly in 2006.  He had been boarded at Tim's place of work for 4 months because his owner was in the hospital before going to a nursing home.  His owner loved him dearly and didn't want to adopt him out if she was to recover fully and get to come home.  He was between 12 and 15 years old and had some health issues when we finally adopted him.  At first, there was an adjustment period for everyone, but he became a very important member of our family.  He was particularly bonded to me-my shadow, always situating himself within visual distance of me at all times and following me anytime I got up.  He happily travelled with me everywhere he could.   He was with us for another 6 and 1/2 years and we cared very much for him.  We wish we had the opportunity to have him as a puppy and young dog but were very happy to have the time we did.  Despite being very bonded to his first owner, I believe Curly loved us just as much; and we loved him as much as the dogs we had from puppyhood.  
My pet is really attached to me, I don't think he'd do well in another home.
I'll start with the common concerns I've heard
I don't want to get another pet because I'm not sure I'll be around for his entire life.
What if my pet's on medication, who would take care of him?
What if my pet is old, no one would take him.  He'd just be euthanized
The best response I have to these concerns is to tell  you a story from personal experience which is not unlike many I've heard over the years. 
Second homes  can work!
From my research, the two main questions you should ask yourself in planning for your pet's care are:
We want to plan ahead.  Thankfully, we have not encountered the situation where one of our clients is no longer able to physically care for their pet and someone else hasn't already helped them out.  However, we'd like to know of anyone who would be interested in temporarily fostering or becoming a permanent home for one of our long time client's pets.  This would only be a situation where we've seen and gotten to know the pet because it's been in regularly for care and one where the owner is not able to physically care for the pet.  If you would like to be contacted if this situation should arise, please                 
Make sure to let everyone involved in the future care of your pet know what your plans are and give appropriate people a copy of any formal documents.  That way everyone will know your wishes.