by Christine A.
Holliday Pets: we love them, pamper them, and treat them like members of the family. But in too many cases, we don’t have a plan for who will take care of them if we are unable to do so. It might be that we have no friends or family to assume care of the pet if we die, or that health concerns, a new job or a smaller home dictate that we can no longer keep our beloved furry friend. Whatever the reason, it sometimes happens that we have to find new homes for our pets, and worry that our littlest family member won’t find the love and comfort we want him/her to have. Since 1996, The Toledo Area Humane Society has offered The Forever Friends Surviving Pet Care Program, to help guarantee that dogs or cats will be taken care of if the owner dies or has to surrender the pet. “[The program] gives pet owners peace of mind,” says Humane Society Director of Development Danielle Jones. “The pet stays with us, getting veterinary care, individual attention, a warm bed, food, and security until a new owner and forever home are found. The shock of being moved from a lifelong home to an unfamiliar new one can be quite stressful on a pet, and owners who love their pets want to minimize that anxiety.” Insuring their future “Those who are planning their estates enroll in the program. They are asked to earmark funds, depending on the number of pets, to cover the needs of the pet until a new owner is secured, essentially naming the Humane Society as a beneficiary in the will or trust or life insurance policy,” Jones explained. The Society will provide limited veterinary care and vaccinations while the pet is in foster care, and accept additional care funds to be held in special accounts until the adoption is complete, when those extra funds are transferred to the new owner. According to Jones, each owner receives a card directing survivors to take the pet to the Humane Society. Pet owners enrolling in the program complete a personality profile about their pet, indicating the pet’s gender, special markings and general temperament. There are questions about the pet’s habits, favorite foods and activities, current medical conditions and behavior (e.g.: How does the pet respond to strangers? Is the pet afraid of thunder? Fireworks? Other animals?). Some owners like to include a letter to the future owners about their canine or feline family member, a gesture Ms. Jones says is appreciated by the adopter. The Humane Society keeps that information until the time comes when the profiled pet needs a new home. Officials conduct one-on-one interviews with potential pet “parents,” sharing background information and making certain the new owners and the pet can live happily together. Post-adoption checks are made to verify that the new owner-pet relationship is working out and that the pet is happy and safe. ‘Making certain’ Mike Grames is a Forever Friends member who has made plans for the care of his three cats and two dogs if something happens to him. He was moved to join for two reasons. First, his financial planner encouraged him to get his affairs in order and make a will outlining any bequests he wanted to make, including a gift to the Humane Society. Second, as a volunteer at the Humane Society, he was familiar with the number of pets dropped off at the shelter when their owners couldn’t care for them anymore. “It seemed important to me to have a plan,” Grames said. “I don’t have anyone to take my pets if something happens to me and, while I am not worrying about dying, you never know. I wanted to make certain that my pets would find good homes. This program has allowed me to do that.” Jones said that there are 53 people currently enrolled in the program, and invites inquiries from all pet owners. Contact Danielle Jones for more information at the Toledo Area Humane Society, 1920 Indian Wood Circle, Maumee, at 419-482-7101, or firstname.lastname@example.org.