Before You Go…Don’t Forget Your Pets!

by | Jul 22, 2022

Making arrangements for your home or apartment before leaving for a vacation can feel like a daunting task when you think about all that needs to be done.

Depending on how long you will be gone, you likely need to think about: having the mail/newspaper held, forwarded, or picked up, watering plants, minimizing food items in the refrigerator/cupboard, telling a neighbor/family/friend about your time away, making sure garbage is emptied, providing keys in case someone needs to get in during your absence, lining up yard workers if needed, unplugging appliances, locking doors/windows, adjusting the thermostat, lights and blinds, cleaning the house (no one likes to come home to a mess!), turning off your water (I’ve heard too many burst washing machine pipes or leaky toilet stories), and packing (and all that entails). Whew!

Don’t Forget Your Pets

AND if you have a pet, that’s another list! I have recently become a house/pet sitter on Trusted Housesitters and have a new level of respect for pet owners.

Their furry baby is truly one of the family and they make arrangements to continue the amazing care for that loved one before they travel. My friend that originally told me about the website, has been house/pet sitting her way around the world for years. It’s a wonderful, international community!

As I wrote last month, we should also think about the possibility of a health event while away on our travels. And that preparation should extend to thinking about the needs of our pets as well.

It’s the Law

It’s so sad to think of our pets without us, but here’s your chance to do something about it in advance in case it happens. According to the law, pets are treated like property – not as individuals that can own property.

Because of this distinction, an owner cannot gift money or assets to a pet so it is important to address how your pet will be cared for if you suddenly go to the hospital or predecease your pet.

A Pet Emergency Plan

Informal agreements with friends or family can quickly dissolve if their living arrangements don’t allow for a pet or if someone in their house is allergic to the animal. To protect your pets, you should have an emergency plan in place.

If you are unable to return home, someone with access to your home can be notified to care for your pets until you are able to return or until permanent arrangements can be made.

On top of the pet emergency plan, here is important information you need to compile about your pets before you go:

  • Pet Name
  • Birthday (can be an estimate if you’re not sure)
  • Veterinarian contact info
  • Health and dietary needs/requirements
  • Favorite activities/toys/treats
  • Pet insurance info (if applicable)
  • Pet guardian contact information
  • Instructions (Ex: How should this person gain access to your house and bring your pet to their home?)
  • Other pertinent info (example: microchip info, grooming tips, etc.)

Download and fill in my Pet Checklist to capture this and other information in one place. It will be very helpful in case of an emergency or just to have on hand for anyone who may help take care of your pet(s) while you are away.

Pets Leave Pawprints on Our Hearts

I imagine a pet has played an important part in your life a time or two. I think my first recollection of a pet was when I played with an adorable, super soft, grey kitten at my grandmother’s house. She wasn’t technically my pet, but I sure treated her like she was when we were there. Then one day, she was tragically hit by a car during one of our visits. I never cried so hard!

When our four children begged for a dog, we gave in and allowed a guinea pig to be the pet for the time being. I don’t recall how long Lucky lived, but I do remember the elaborate funeral all four kids gave him in our backyard. They remember it to this day, over 20 years later.

I guess my point is that our furry friends, no matter what our age, work their way into our hearts. So, think beyond just your vacation this summer to what you would want for him/her if your absence gets extended or becomes permanent. It seems the least we can do is to be sure we make plans for them just like we would for another family member.

Marie Burns is a Certified Financial Planner, Speaker, and Author of the bestselling Financial Checklist books. Find Marie on Facebook or contact her at [email protected]

This article was first published at 60 and Me – a community that helps women over 60 live happy, healthy and financially secure lives.