by Ardeth De Vries

What will happen to your dog if you are no longer able to care for him?

Don’t just presume that your family or friends will assume responsibility for your animal friend if you are no longer able to care for him. We’ve seen far too many dogs end up in shelters because no one was willing to take them. If you don’t make plans NOW (never mind how old you are or how secure your home situation seems to be) your precious friend could end up being passed around from one home to another, confused and lost, only to end up in a shelter where he or she will die sad and alone.

Here’s what we suggest you do:


  • Think carefully about the needs of your companion animal and make a decision now about who will care for him if your life changes in a way that makes caring for your dog impossible.
  • Talk to family members and friends about whether they might be ready and willing to care for your dog in case you’re unable to do so.
  • Be sure that the person you’ve chosen is serious about taking on the responsibility of caring for your friend and is willing to make a commitment to you.
  • Talk to the person you’ve chosen about your animal’s needs, and make sure that this person knows the name of your veterinarian. It’s important that the dog’s health records can be easily located.
  • Give the name and phone number of the caretaker to your veterinarian and to your family if this person is not a family member.
  • Include information about the caretaker in your will.
  • Keep a notebook of all of the information about the dog’s habits, needs, likes, dislikes, etc. and tell the caretaker where this notebook can be found in your home.
  • Keep a card with you with the name, phone number and address of your caretaker so he or she can be notified immediately if you are unable to make contact.
  • Determine whether you’ll need to provide in your will for the costs of caring for your friend.
  • Finally, if you can’t find anyone that you’re absolutely sure will want and be able to take your dog into his or her home, the kindest option might be for you to consider specifying euthanasia for your dog rather than letting your friend go to a shelter.
  • Don’t allow your dog to end up in a shelter, especially if your friend is a canine senior citizen. Plan Ahead!
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