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It’s heartbreaking to imagine that your beloved pet could join thousands of homeless dogs and unwanted cats facing an uncertain future, if there’s no one to rehome them when you die.
It’s easy to put thoughts of what might happen when we die to the back of our minds. All too often, it’s simply assumed that a dog or cat will be taken on by friends or family members, yet sometimes, it’s just impossible for family members or friends to take on pet care after the death of an owner.
It’s sensible to include estate planning for pets when you’re writing a will, but people are not obliged look after pets left to them unexpectedly, or in circumstances against their wishes.
Luckily, a number of animal charities have created peace-of-mind schemes that are simple to sign up to. They are there to ensure a much-loved companion will be cared for, or be given a loving new home, when a pet owner dies.
Pet care after death schemes are free to sign up to, although animal charities depend on donations and ask you to consider a legacy to them in your will. So what do the schemes offer and how do they work?
The RSPCA’s Home for Life scheme
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Even if you’ve talked about the subject of pet care after death with someone who has pledged to adopt your dog or cat, the RSPCA says its Home For Life scheme can be a reassuring safety net. The charity will provide you with a simple clause to include in your will, or to add as a codicil.
This will make executors aware that the RSPCA will take responsibility your pet when you die and do all it can to find a new and loving home for it. When you sign up, you’ll be sent a notification card to keep somewhere safe and one to carry in your purse or wallet.
The Dogs Trust Canine Care Card
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The Dogs Trust says it never puts healthy homeless dogs down and if it can’t rehome your pet, will look after it for the rest of its life.
Once you sign up, you’ll be sent a Canine Care Card – a bit like as donor card – which will make people aware of your wishes for your dog.
The charity also recommends that you express your wish for it to assume responsibility your pet, in the following way in your will: “It is also my wish that Dogs Trust cares for or rehomes any dogs that I may own at the time of my death”.
The Cats Protection League Cat Guardians Card
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The Cats Protection League tries to find a loving new home for all homeless cats and never puts a healthy animal to sleep. You’ll be sent a wallet-card, contact firm and key fob and window sticker to help alert people to contact the charity, in the event of your death. Your pet will be taken to the League’s nearest branch for adoption and given a health check, but if it turns out a friend can step forward to take care if your cat, the charity will consider this, too.
Whenever possible, it will rehome cats together, although if you have more than one cat and there there is a better chance of them finding good homes separately, the charity cannot always rule this out.
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The Cinnamon Trust helps people nearing the end of their lives to enjoy more of the time they have left, with their pets. Members of the public can sign up to join its national network of more than 15,000 volunteers, which supports elderly and terminally ill people by helping care for and exercising their pets, or even running them to the vets.
For those worried about what will happen to their pet when they die, the Cinnamon Trust, which has two sanctuaries and a network of longer-term animal foster-carers, can provide pet care after the death of an owner, by prior arrangement.
The charity, which can be contacted on 01736 757 900, will send a profile pack to fill in, which will tell them more about your situation and your pet’s needs, likes and dislikes. Those registered with the charity will receive cards to alert family or carers about their pet, should they be taken into hospital, or die.
- Read more: 10 benevolent societies that provide charitable hardship funds to people in difficult circumstances.