What’s YOUR plan?

So, you’ve been doing animal rescue for a few/many years. Or, maybe you have a big heart and a deep-enough wallet? Along the way, you’ve acquired a few animals – the ones with impaired vision, temperament issues, social challenges.

But what happens to them when you can no longer care for them? Do you have a plan in place?

It’s not enough to think/assume/imply that your family will take these pets on. And it’s not fair to assume that they can and will open their home(s) to these precious souls.

Here are the things you need, at a minimum, to transition your animals to someone else if/when something prevents you from caring for them:

  1. 1. List of names, descriptions and labeled photographs of all your animals
    1. Got shy cats? Where are their hiding places? How should a stranger approach that cat?
    2. Cats and/or dogs that only get along with certain other animals?
    3. Be specific!
  2. Medical records
    1. A central file is the best idea.
    2. Names, phone numbers of the veterinarians that your pets have visited.
  3. Names/phone numbers of friends that know your animals
  4. List of possible rescue organizations that may be able to help with temporary care or placement
  5. Trust fund or insurance policy for the care of your animals.

Some people will question this decision but it can make the difference between life and death for your pets. If rescue organizations are your only option (because you know your family can’t/won’t step up), providing monetary assistance for your pets will enable more organizations to help. Rescue groups often have reserve funds, but they are usually very limited – and in place for the animals that are currently in their care. And what you really want for your animals is a SANCTUARY – a facility that can commit to the proper care of your animals for the rest of their lives.

Pet Trusts

N.J. Stat. § 3B:11-38
Year of Enactment: 2001
Summary of law: A trust may be created for the care of a domesticated animal. The trust terminates when no living animal is covered by the trust, or at the end of 21 years, whichever occurs earlier.

Because most trusts are enforceable by law, pet owners will have peace of mind knowing their pets will be cared for according to their instructions. The directions left in a trust can, and should, be very specific. If your cat only likes a particular brand of food, your dog looks forward to daily romps in the park or if your pet should visit the veterinarian three times a year, you can specify this in a trust agreement. A trust that goes into effect while the pet owner is still alive can provide instructions for the care of the animals in the event that the pet owner becomes gravely sick or injured. Since pet owners know the particular habits of their animals better than anyone else, they can describe the kind of care their pets should have and provide a list of the person(s) who would be willing to provide that care.

One practical way of creating a trust is to create one for all of the pets you will have in your lifetime, rather than to create a separate trust for each pet.

Determine the amount of cash or assets needed to adequately cover the expenses for your pet’s care. Generally, this amount cannot exceed what may reasonably be required given your pet’s standard of living. You should also specify how the funds should be distributed to the caregiver.

Life Insurance Policy

Animal advocate, John Sibley, recently posted about this very topic: http://johnsibley.com/2013/02/06/what-happens-to-our-animals-if-we-die/

He purchased a life insurance policy that directly names one animal sanctuary as the beneficiary (with their permission). That sanctuary will care for his animals if anything happens to him.

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