Nobody really wants to consider their own demise. Many people don't have a will because they don't want to accept that their death is inevitable. Even many couples with young children don't have a will and haven't made provisions for who their children will live with should they die unexpectedly. When you consider this, it isn't surprising that pet owners haven't thought about what will happen to those pets if/when they die or are simply no longer in a position to offer them homes. Perhaps the owner will have to move into subsidized housing or a residence or apartment that doesn't allow pets. All pets are prohibited in subsidized seniors' housing in Nova Scotia.
Pets provide companionship, acceptance, emotional support, and unconditional love during the time they share with you. In exchange, you feed and house them, provide medical care and love them back. Why then, is it so common for people to not arrange a new home for their pet "in case"? In the US, only between 12 and 27% of pet owners include pets in their wills. Some of these wills become famous due to the celebrity of the deceased and the sizes of the bequests.
Many of the dogs and cats surrendered to animal shelters are being surrendered because someone has died or because their human has had to move and none of the family or neighbours are willing to take on the responsibility for them. Often these pets are in mid to late life themselves and, therefore, are not as adoptable as younger animals. The pets are also usually sad and depressed because they do not understand why they have been abandoned by their loved ones and relegated to a kennel from their cosy homes.
Certainly as we age we need to consider whether we are likely to die before a pet we are considering obtaining. While our age should not put us off obtaining a pet and in fact having a pet is good for your health and longevity, it might be more practical and better for the adoptee if we consider adopting a senior pet. As mentioned above, middle-aged and senior pets spend longer in our shelters waiting for a home and matching one of them with an aging human would seem to be a no-brainer. This is also practical because an older pet doesn't need as much exercise and attention as younger ones do and often as we age, we aren't up to chasing a young animal around or being kept up at night by a young puppy or kitten.
To make sure your wishes are carried out, be sure to obtain good legal advice on any bequests you want to include in your will for your pets. Please, please speak to friends and family and ensure your pet has somewhere loving to go should you be unable to take care of them for any reason.
SHAID’s kitties still need non-clumping litter and canned food and the shelter needs bleach for keeping everything clean. Please donate if you can. Visit us online at www.shaid.ca