It’s currently estimated that only 9% of people with Wills include provisions for their cats, dogs, or exotic birds. And unless you already have a sibling or friend who’s explicitly pledged to look after Pawudrey Hepburn, that could leave your pet in limbo if something serious happens to you.
If you can’t appoint a caregiver for whatever reason, there are several lifetime care centers that will provide for your pet after your death. Some are souped-up kennels with pools, others are shelters that will place your pup with a new family. Here are six to start, but you can also search for local options that can keep your pets happy and healthy.
If you’re just starting this process and weighing your options, contact the volunteers at 2nd Chance 4 Pets. While the nonprofit does not provide homes itself, it specializes in saving the pets of deceased owners from kill shelters. The people there can answer any questions you have about lifetime care facilities and help point you to one that makes sense for your furry friend. They have ties to homes all over the country, so their connections will come in handy.
This Texas sanctuary promises space for dogs, horses, donkeys, llamas, and cows. Once you reserve a spot, you’ll pay according to a fixed plan but can cancel at any time. So what are you getting out of this deal? The property includes a large ranch-style home with a patio, large grassy areas, and a pool. On-site “den moms” play with and supervise your pet 24/7. Plus, all the basics (food, veterinary care, etc.) are included.
If you want to set your cat up a Circle Star, keep an eye on the site -- facilities for felines, pigs, and birds are currently under way.
Animal Friends is a no-kill shelter in Pittsburgh with a special “society” open to cats and dogs. Donors who give $5,000 or more to the group are eligible to enroll in the Lifesavers Society, a program which pledges to care for your pet after you pass. Animal Friends will take your dog or cat in immediately upon your passing and then care for him or her personally until the shelter finds a new home that abides by its adoption guidelines. You’ll need to fill out a declaration of intent to get the ball rolling, which is available on the Animal Friends website.
Located in Virginia near the North Carolina state line, this sprawling farm specializes in long-term dog boarding. But Dancing Creek emphasizes that it’s no run-of-the-mill kennel. The owners live on the property and have handlers watching the dogs seven days a week. Your pooch will stay in an air-conditioned cabin, have access to large outdoor play areas daily, and enjoy some pampering thanks to the weekly warm lavender towel wipe down and massage. The lifetime care program requires a Trust, but they can talk you through your options. [Here’s how they describe it on their site.]
Like Dancing Creek, this California nonprofit requires a Pet Trust before you can enroll in its perpetual care program. Once that’s set up, Peace of Mind makes a lifelong commitment to your dog. They’ll put your pup up in a boarding house with regular walks while they search for a suitable foster or permanent home. The new family will be determined by the “pet profile” you set up, which lists of your buddy’s likes, dislikes, health history, habits, and vet records. Peace of Mind does not discriminate against old or sick dogs, but it does have to determine that your pet qualifies before you can commit. If this sounds like your best option, you should reach out ASAP -- and give your lawyer a call while you’re at it. That Trust will require some legal expertise.
Most of the places on this list care exclusively for dogs, but Pet Pride of New York is a cats-only sanctuary. The shelter is located on 15 acres of wooded property out in Victor, New York. Any cat staying there receives his or her own large cage with a litter box, water, toys, food, and bed. But they’ll also get let out each day to play -- and if they have pals on the premises, they’ll be let out together. To reserve a space for your feline, you’ll need to sign a contract pledging to set aside a certain dollar amount in your Will for the nonprofit. You peruse the fine print via this online copy.
This national nonprofit organization works with hospices, home health agencies, and hospitals to keep "patients and their pets together at a time when they need each other the most." They assist with pet care while patients are alive, and provide help with re-homing to ensure pets find new forever homes. Check out the video on their site explaining the inspiration behind Pet Peace of Mind's purpose.
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Related Reading: How To Make Sure Your Pets Are Taken Care Of After You’re Gone