Help Your Beloved Companion Navigate the Journey It Takes When You Cannot Care for Them
Pet owners, for the most part, provide the very best care they can for their beloved companions. They are doggedly dedicated, ferociously protective, will soar to new heights and gallop over hill and dale for their animals. Part of that care includes you, the boarding facilities they choose to care for their pets when they are away.
You become a partner in their animal’s care and they come to rely on you. Peace of mind and trust is a very important piece of this relationship. This includes being the ‘go to people’ to care for the pet if something were to happen to the owner short or long term. Yet, more often than not, loving pet owners fail to plan for their pet’s care when/if something should happen to them. I am raising my hand because I was one of those pet owners.
In March 2013, I was out in the back of my property looking for the escape route taken by my beloved dog Roxie when I slipped in the new snow, fell and broke my ankle. In the ensuing few days I realized missing work was the least of my problems. I had a lap top, the internet and my phone. I would be ok. My family was caring for me.
However, who would care for my dogs? I had 7 Irish setters and 2 standard longhaired dachshunds. They all have free run of the house and kennel. However, they eat in their large kennels in the basement. Stairs were out for the foreseeable future. Yes, my husband and son could care for the dogs but they were already caring for me while working and going to school. How could I have not thought about this and planned for additional care?
I actually had spoken to two dog show friends about caring for my pets if I should die, but never if I got hurt. I reached out to these two friends and found one was renovating their kennel so didn't have the room and the other had just broken her arm a few weeks before in another freak accident. Thankfully, my cleaning lady said she would step in and help. But what if she couldn’t? What would have happened to my dogs?
So, while I recovered from my mishap I wrote the MAAP Program-Navigating the Care Your Beloved Companions Will Receive When You Cannot Personally Care for Them. It is meant to help people, who love their pets as much as I do, recognize the need to plan for their care if they are not dead yet!
We always include the care of our pets in our wills. Yet what about a short term inability to care for our pets? I call these the 6 D’s - Delay, Disability, Divorce, Disease, Disaster & Death. If we only plan for our pets in the 6th D, we are leaving everything to chance for the other 5.
There is a great video out on YouTube, maybe you have seen it. It depicts an old man and his dog going everywhere together, including the dog following the ambulance to the hospital. The dog loyally stays outside the hospital awaiting his master's exit. He never comes. Yet a young woman comes out and the dog gets up to greet her. She received an organ donation from his master. Great commercial for organ donation. Stark reminder that the dog no longer had a home. I wonder if she took the dog home? Probably not.
If your clients only plan for their pet’s care in their will they have only taken 1/6th of the planning necessary to save their pets life. In addition, if those directives are only in their will and they fail to share them with those appointed to care for their pets or those administering the will before hand, their plans may not be followed. WHY? It can take 6-months to a year to probate a will. By then the dogs may be inappropriately re-homed or worse dead. What happens to your clients pets as their estate awaits probate is something you probably care about and can now do something about. Help them make a MAAP plan. You will know what to do, as will their family and their beloved pets will end up where they wanted them to go.
I hold workshops all over the country and free webinars each month helping people make their own MAAP of pet care. Get on my list and If I am in your neck of the woods I will be happy to put one on at your facility. Your clients will be so glad you did. Your client’s pet is a member of your kennel family. Help them make a MAAP Plan. They can build and put in place a plan, caregivers and funding for the care of their beloved pet in the event they may become unable to care for their pet themselves. It may even place you in a position of trusted partner in this companion animal ownership.
If you want to start them on the road to future planning for their pet have them sign up for the Pet Passport which is also free on my website. It is a document that helps them put all the pertinent information about their pet together and store it in one place. If they get a Pet Passport they will automatically receive information on the next free MAAP webinar. This will enable you to continue the conversation on future care and funding for that care with appointed caregivers and you if they choose. They will be so very grateful that you enabled them to easily think about and set up a long/short term plan for the beloved animal they will entrust the future care of their beloved animal to you and you will be funded while you help find them a new forever home. And isn’t that the best of all worlds for everyone?
By Debra Vey Voda-Hamilton, Esq./Mediator (www.hamiltonlawandmediation.com)