A Moment of Paws: Please ensure that your pets will be cared for during their lifetimes

By Mary Nee

I was walking through our Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center the other day and came across Max, a vibrant and lively cockatoo who had been surrendered by his ailing owner. Did I mention that the bird is 38 years old?

It got me thinking about how many things need to be considered before adopting an animal – especially an exotic bird like Max. Max is in good health and could live another 30-40 years.

All pets are life-long commitments, but what if that commitment spans up to 80 years?

Before adopting, prospective pet owners need to think about a variety of factors such as cost of food, grooming, vacation accommodations, preventative veterinary care, and medical emergencies.

No matter what your pet’s life expectancy, you need to have a plan in place should you at some point no longer be able to care for your animal.
If you have a will or are in the process of estate planning, your pet(s) should be included.

The first step is to identify a responsible caretaker. Develop a plan with someone whom you know and trust and who is willing to take your pet into his or her home and care for them.

You should also consult with your attorney to research what the laws in your state say about including your pet in a living will, or creating a pet trust.

If you are unable to find a family member or friend who can take on the responsibility of caring for your pet(s), you can request the executor of your estate or family members to surrender the pet to a reputable rescue organization like the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL).

In fact, at ARL we work with individuals every day who find themselves without anyone to care for their pets. After a comprehensive review about the pet’s history and condition, we make every effort possible to re-home an animal. The only exception is in cases when extreme medical or behavioral issues prevent us from doing so.

While this is not a pleasant topic to think about, we owe it to our pets to plan for the unknown. One of the best ways to help those who are grieving, or who are assisting you in your time of need, is to cover every aspect possible so there are no questions or doubts on what your wishes are for your pet’s future.

Mary Nee, the president of the Animal Rescue League of Boston, resides in Dorchester and is a part-time Eastham resident. Pet questions? Email ARL at press@arlboston.org