If Our Pets Could Talk – April 2024


I have written about this topic quite a few times over the years, but somehow it has not been acted upon by many people who have family pets. Within the last several months sadly a few pet owners have died unexpectedly leaving their family pets in a “chaotic limbo” situation. This situation then relies on others to scramble getting these pets out of their house, searching for a temporary place for them to be cared for and eventually finding a new home. On occasion a landlord will lock up a house with the pets still inside. Sometimes for whatever reason the police are called, and again the pets are locked inside, most likely with little or no food and water. Meanwhile they are waiting to be “rescued” from their own home which is now a “prison.” Many times, special permission has to be requested of the police department to gain entry to the house, which can take a week or more before entry is allowed. Again, the pet is trapped inside the house, possibly without food and water or “bathroom” access. This might happen unbeknown to the ill/deceased person’s friend(s) or family.                           

For those who have been at lakeside for a number of years, no doubt you have seen similar postings like: I have to leave here and go (someplace else), and I cannot take my cat/dog with me. I have had him/her since he/she was a kitten/puppy, and if I cannot find a home for him/her, I will have to “put him/her down” – code for: take my family companion of many years to the vet to have it “killed” – a “veiled threat note” to make the readers feel guilty for not helping or taking this pet to their home because the owner failed to have a plan for future pet care. And let’s be honest about what that term “put down” means in this situation. I apologize for being so blunt, but reality is harsh at times. After being involved in several emergency situations to “rescue” a family pet in this kind of a situation, and listening to other people who’ve shared their past experiences in having to suddenly get involved with a neighbor or friend whose pet is now “homeless”, it is very upsetting and difficult to understand why a plan was not in place. For those of you who have taken full responsibility for the well-being of your pets for their future, I applaud and am proud of you for thinking ahead and caring so much for your companion(s).

We all say we love our pets and only want the best for them. Unlike our human friends, our pets live with us 24 hours a day – listen to our problems, give us happy moments, console us when we are sad, and make no judgments about us, etc. With this in mind, one should think and care about their future and make plans if something were to make it impossible for them to be cared for by you. For those who are curious, I do practice what I “preach” – I’ve made arrangements for my own pets quite a while ago. We cannot predict the future for ourselves, but we CAN make plans for our family pet’s future. In most cases our pets will outlive us, so planning is essential. A person can become hospitalized briefly, have to move into a care facility indefinitely, leave the country to live elsewhere, or die. If this happens suddenly, and most times it does happen this way, there is a rushed time element involved in resolving the situation about the care of this family companion. The solution: Make your plans NOW !

A note from Tail End Planning: We must make plans for our pets when we can no longer care for them. Don’t we all want our pets to be cared for and loved just like they were when they had homes with us? The mission of the program Tail End Planning is to encourage and assist people in making plans for their pets. First, we have to become aware of and acknowledge the need to make plans as part of our own overall end of life planning. Then we have to think about who would commit to adopting and caring for our animal companions. Is it a friend? A relative? Do they live here at Lake Chapala or outside of Mexico? What if you don’t have anyone who can care for your animals? You can check out Tail End Place, the sanctuary [this is not a shelter] for orphaned dogs run by Jena Marie Olio of Clicker Pets.  Jena will visit you and your pets and discuss how to make your advance arrangements, including the cost.

What happens if we don’t make plans? The community’s shelters are already overstretched at full capacity with endless litters of puppies and kittens, and with almost daily pleas to find homes for animals whose owners have become incapacitated or died. As pet owners we need to take responsibility for making good plans, for identifying a contact person who has a copy of the plan and can set it in motion, and for considering how a plan will be financially supported.

The prospect of making a plan can seem daunting. So many questions arise. The solution is to take the first step. Tail End Planning can help explore ideas, share information about community resources, and together identify needs associated with making plans. This service is free and done by volunteers who care about family pets and their future well-being. Do this advanced planning for your pets who have been such loving, loyal and dear companions in your life before there is an emergency. For assistance and further information contact: juanitacrampton@gmail.com

Jackie Kellum

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