Senior Citizens, Pets, Animal Shelters - Oh My! / A Sane Approach

Deborah Hutchison

What will happen to your pet when you die? Do you have a plan? Probably not. And what if you have no next of kin?

My ex-mother in-law, Beverly and I still stay in touch. She is a kind woman who writes funny plays and loves animals. I don’t remember a time she hasn’t had a large poodle or a small Yorkie by her side. Beverly is a widow and her last dog died several years ago.

And so this story begins…. a lady on the condo floor below Beverly was found dead in her apartment. As the neighbors gathered outside in the hallway fireman, paramedics and police entered the dead women's residence. Word came back the lady had most likely been dead for 2 days. There was no next of kin, she lived alone except for Dickie. Sweet, Yorkiepoo, 5lb Dickie, hadn’t eaten, had water or been outside for 2 days. Yet he awaited a far worse fate, with his owner dead, Dickie was now homeless!

The Policemen asked if any of the neighbors wanted to take him. No one spoke. Finally one neighbor asked “What will happen to Dickie if no one takes him?” “We call the dog pound“ came the reply. Dickie was brought into the hallway while the authorities continued their work. The neighbors looked at the tiny ball of fur then they looked at each other and still there was silence. As the policeman reached to dial the dog pound a voice came from far back down the hallway “I’ll take Dickie” said Beverly. The neighbors cheered. The relieved officer passed the tiny orphan over to the big-hearted lady. Dickie nuzzled into her arms.

If my ex-mother in law hadn’t stepped in to take Dickie he would have ended up in the pound. How many dogs, cats, parrots, rabbit’s and other pets end up homeless because of an owner’s death? 

Dickie and Beverly are crazy about each other and have settled in quite nicely. They seem to be the building’s celebrities. Everywhere they go neighbors stop to thank Beverly all the while giving Dickie a soft pat on the head. Dickie will go to Beverly's daughter, Jackie, should something happen to her.



Don’t leave the fate of your pet to just anyone, not all pets will be as lucky as Dickie. 

Many beloved pets are sent to shelters when an owner dies. Could this situation be changed? Yes! Do you have a plan? Probably not. Why not get prepared and deal with the issue. Let others know your intentions should something happen to you or you can no longer take care of your pet. Set up a win/win situation - your peace of mind and your pets happy future.  Get my Shared Pet Custody/Pet Parenting Agreement which allows you to designate who owns your pet (you) and whom your pet will go to when you pass on or can no longer take care of it. 

Even if you choose not to get an agreement please have a conversation with someone and write down your intention. It's an emotional issue which needs a sane approach so put it in writing and show your intention. Don't forget to have the conversation with the person you are designating as your pet's next parent and be sure that they are interested in carrying out your wish. Make a wise move and think ahead!

Deborah Hutchison* - Cheers to love, clarity and guidelines!

*I am not a lawyer nor do I claim to be giving legal advice I'm just suggesting this emotional situation should be addressed.


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