Canine Rights

What Would Happen to Your Dog, If Something Happened to You?

lonelydogWe generally outlive our pets as they have a shorter life span than us. That’s why it is recommended that as responsible owners we plan ahead for our dog’s passing. However, what if the opposite happens? What if we become laid up, ill, or worse, die first? Who would give Fido home? Who would provide for his food, water, and vet care? Who would take care of him and love him?

Preparing for the Unexpected

To ensure that your beloved four-legged friend continues to receive adequate care in the event that you get seriously ill, meet a grave accident, or face death, it is critical that you plan and make arrangements in advance.

1. Call a friend. Find a few dependable friends or relatives who would be willing to serve as emergency caregivers should something unexpected happen to you. Provide them with keys to your home, feeding and pet care instructions, as well as the contact information of your vet.

2. Post notices. Aside from carrying an “alert” card in your wallet all the time, try posting removable “In case of emergency” signs on your windows or doors as well. This way, responding personnel during emergencies like fire or any other home disaster can be notified easily about the number and the kind of pets you have at home.

3. Make formal arrangements. Sometimes, it’s not enough that long ago a friend of yours has promised to take care of your pooch. To ensure that your plans to secure your dog when worse comes to worst are fulfilled, start making formal arrangements that will cover the sufficient care of your pet. Work with a lawyer to draft a special will, pet trust, or other document which draws the specific care and ownership of your dog as well as the amount needed to care for him.

According to, there are 3 documents to consider when planning for your dog in the event of your death.

The will is valid after death, and its purpose is to distribute property. The free-standing, traditional pet trust enlists a trustee who distributes funds and ensures that the person caring for a pet follows the owner’s instructions. The pet protection agreement is the layperson’s pet trust—an affordable, fill-in-the-blank, legally enforceable document.

Is designating a caretaker in my Will enough?

There are various kinds of wills and trusts, and choosing which is best for you and Fido basically depends on your situation and your pooch’s needs. It is highly recommended that you consult your lawyer first before making a decision.

However, you should be aware that mentioning your pet in a will typically does not provide adequate protection for his or her care after your passing.

– Instructions in a will are not enforceable. Wills simply distribute property. For example, your will can designate your friend John to take custody of your dog, but it can not force John to then keep the dog, or provide necessary veterinary care. As soon as John takes custody, he can then do whatever he wishes (within the law) with your beloved pet.

– Wills are rarely, if ever, immediately enacted. Who will care for your pet during the waiting period between your passing and the reading of the will? Legal issues can hold up will probating for months, even years.

– Wills do not allow for planned monetary disbursements over your pet’s lifetime. A specific pet trust or pet protection agreement is the best way to disburse funds for your pet’s care.

– The courts can make changes to your will if they see fit.

– A will does not address potential issues with your designated caretaker in which he may not be suitable to care for your pet. For example, if you will your dog to John, but John later becomes unable to care for your dog, who, then, takes custody?

To absolutely ensure that your pet will be cared for according to your wishes, it is recommended that pet parents complete and file a Pet Protection Agreement. A simple, inexpensive, legally binding form can be found by clicking here.

So many of us view our pets as members of the family. So, in the same way that responsible parents plan ahead for the care of their children, should an accident or unforeseen illness occur, plans should also be put in place your furry family members.




  1. Tamala Toy Lynn Bemis

    Nov 4, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    Tammy Bemis in Eugene, Oregon
    October 23 at 7:52am
    Hi Everyone, This might not be a big suprise to most of you but I just got out of jail late last night after sitting in there for 17 days. When I got out I went to my car and found my dog of 13 years “Magic” was her name, dead and rotted inside my car. I got Magic 13 years ago when she could fit in the palm of one of my hands. She was brought into my place of employment by a homeless guy it was the runt of his dogs liter of pups and he was unable to find a home for her due to the fact her front laegs were deformed. He sat her on the floor in my work place and she would try to walk and her front legs would buckle up behind her back and she would fall flat on her face. I felt sorry for her so I took her home with me and took her to see a vet right away. The vet said that as far as they could tell without doing any expensive testing that she was born like that and not to get to used to her cause she wouldnt live past a year. I was working 2 full time jobs at the time and because she was not big enough to eat on her own I took her to both my jobs with me every day to feed and care for her until she could eat and get around on her own.
    Since then over the years I have become homeless off and on with Magic being of the most importance in my life making sure she was always taken care of and had a place to stay even if I didnt. She has always been an inside dog. I always made sure she had a warm place to be at night even if for a few times it was in my car with me where I could have the heater going for us.
    I recently bacame homeless again and I did not have a place for her to be so she had been sleeping in the car with me for a couple of nights. On the night of October 4th 2015 I had Magic in the car with me it was early morning on the 5th and I decided to ride my bike to 99 donuts for a maple bar so I had started the car warmed it up tucked Magic in with her blankets in the passanger seat shut the car off and told her I would be right back. I left on bike with windows up in the car cause it was still early morning very cold. The donut store was just down the road. Just before I get to the donut store I got stopped by the police cause they thought I was some one that was camped out in a back room of some house on Royal that some one had called to complain about. I told pollice this was not me but I did have warrants for my arrest. I told the police about my dog in my car gave them specific directions to where she was told them my mom just got a new phone number so wasnt positive what the number was but told them what I belived to be and begged them over and over to call the number and to locate my car if they would to let my dog out or let some one know to let her out. The police officer told me they would attempt to locate and try the phone number I gave them. I told them I would not be released soon from the jail this time on my charges and deeply expressed how important it was to get my dog out of the car and that once I was in jail I would not have any way of calling any one collect to let them know about my dog.
    I was realeased from jail late last night, 17 days later to find my dog dead in my car. As it turns out the phone number I gave to the police officer for my mom was the correct phone number for her.
    I admit I am not a perfect person I am a long time drug addict and user of meth and marijaunna but in Magics 13 years of her life I did the best I could to take care of her and she was never ever neglected in anyway even if it meant leaving her with some one else for awhile. I had warrants for drug delivery and possesion of meth and had expected to go to prison cause of last conversation I had with an attorney. But I do not believe that my criminal charges mean that it was ok to let Magic die this way in an unlocked car with the windows up with no food or water. I never ever once in her life left her in the car with the windows up when it was not freezing outside. I always let her out of the car if I had to and she would lay next to it waiting for me to come out of the store if I went into one or I would park in shade with all 4 windows down and sun shades in front and back windows and always with a big bowl of fresh water you can ask any one that knows Magic and me very well.
    I believe Eugene police are negligent in the death of Magic and hope that this is as heartbreaking to everyone else as it is to me and that this story gets out there and some thing can be done about it. If not and no one cares about the way Magic died and me finding her in my car in this state of being then I am sorry for wasting your time on reading this.
    Magic did not deserve to die this way. Thank You Tammy

  2. Paul

    Mar 11, 2015 at 10:31 pm

    Might be worth checking out the service called It does an automated daily call to a pet owner. If the owner fails to check in then it will alert the care circle (usually neighbors, vets, family or friends) by SMS, email or a call. It a great way to ensure your pets are taken care of, in the event something happens to you

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