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Providing for pets after death of the owner

By Floyd Miller



R.G. ELMORE, D.V.M. Q: Because we are getting older and worry about what might happen to our dog, if we had one, at the time of our demise, my wife and I are hesitant to get another one. We just lost our 14-year-old corgi. We miss her greatly. Are there organizations that care for pets after their owners die? Can we make provisions for the care of our dog in our wills? We do not want to burden our friends or family with the responsibility of our dog after we are gone. We also cannot bear the thought that our dog might be taken to a shelter or put to sleep after we are gone.A: Fortunately, your concerns about the care of your pet after you die or become incapacitated are being addressed by many reputable organizations throughout the United States. The worry about what will happen to a beloved pet after the owner’s death no longer has to be a reason for not enjoying the companionship of a four-footed family member late in life.In many states it is legally possible to leave assets to pets through trusts and wills. You should check with your family lawyer about how you can legally provide for your pet after you are gone. In addition to placing your pet in your will you should be sure that a trusted neighbor or whomever takes care of your estate and personal belongings knows about your desires for your pet so that immediate care can be given following your death.Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for pets to be taken to shelters before it is discovered in a will that provisions were made for care of the pets.Several of the 28 veterinary colleges throughout the United States and many humane societies offer special programs that provide or find new homes for pets following their owners’ deaths. Many of these programs require that the owners make a sizable contribution in advance that is put into an endowment, the interest of which provides for the care of the animal. Following the death of the animal the income is usually designated to support scholarships for veterinary students or other worthy causes. An example of such a program is the Perpetual Pet Care Program at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan. .You should not deny yourself, nor a worthy animal, the joys of owning a pet just because you are getting older and are worrying about what will happen after you are gone. Provisions can be made. Your veterinarian can help you find the perfect pet for this time in your life.Q: Are raisins poisonous for dogs? My dog will not eat them. She occasionally will chew on one and then spit it out of her mouth. Is she trying to tell me that raisins are not good for her?A: Whether or not your dog knows it, raisins and grapes are toxic for dogs. They can cause acute gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting and kidney failure. Other clinical signs of poisoning include lethargy, diarrhea and abdominal pain. The ingestion of raisins and grapes can cause death in dogs. Any dog thought to have eaten raisins or grapes should be taken to a veterinarian as soon as possible.Send e-mail to or write to Pets, Copley News Service, P.O. Box 120190, San Diego, CA 92112-0190. Only questions of general interest will be answered in this column.© Copley News ServiceVisit Copley News Service at TOP

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