Who will care for Fido?

Pets often become members of the family. They provide companionship and love, especially for an ailing elder. Your relative may be worried about a pet’s future when he or she is no longer able to provide care. Consider what you can do to make arrangements ahead of time to ease that worry.

Formal arrangements
Formal pet care arrangements can be made through legally valid documents. This sounds good. But hiring an attorney to write up a special document is expensive. And a will involves too many delays to make sure a pet’s immediate needs are taken care of. One streamlined legal option is a Pet Protection Agreement. It covers things such as naming primary and backup guardians, outlines personalized instructions about the pet’s needs and leaves funds for care.

Informal agreements
Often a simple arrangement with a friend or family member is best.

  • Commitment. Have future caregiver(s) sign a letter of agreement. The letter should include instructions about the pet’s needs and habits, contact information for the vet and the pet’s health history.
  • Options. Life circumstances change. Have a backup person and/or agency in case the lead person is no longer able to help.
  • Rescue agency. Don’t assume an agency will accept responsibility for care. Talk with any organization of interest and find out what it would need to potentially serve as guardian.

Financial support
You want to address financial realities when asking someone to make a commitment to care for a pet. Consider the pet’s age and likely needs (food, medications, vet visits, and burial). Be careful, though, that money is not the primary incentive for the commitment.