Who takes your pet when you die? Special rescues help sick owners find their companions’ next home. – Denver Post

NEW YORK – Who takes your pet when you die?

The question often does not have an easy answer, especially for sick or elderly people on their way to nursing or nursing homes. During the pandemic, specialized rescue, advocacy and adoption services run by volunteers try to fill the void, one pet at a time.

Leaders of the small movement said the last few years have opened the eyes of many.

“The thing with COVID is that a lot of people think I can not be guaranteed to be here forever. Many more people try to make plans in advance, which is the best thing to do, because unfortunately many people wait until they are at the hospice “Or there’s a desperate situation,” said Amy Shever, founder and CEO of 2nd Chance 4 Pets in the suburb of Sacramento, California.

The number of pets handed over to shelters due to caretaker health or death has risen from 7.3% in 2009 to 10.2% during the pandemic, according to the Best Friends Network consisting of thousands of public and private shelters, rescue groups and other animal welfare organizations in total. 50 states.

Seniors’ pets are often even seniors who fall ill in shelters or are the first to be euthanized after being declared unadoptable, Shever said. They are routinely abandoned by relatives who cannot accept a dog or cat. The lifespan of other pets, such as parrots, is much longer, which sometimes scares its loved ones.

Shever’s focus is to educate veterinarians and shelters about how they can get involved. Her organization also tries to help pet owners who need guidance. She encourages owners to identify a committed caregiver, provide written instructions for a pet’s routine, and put a financial plan in place. Her group has distributed thousands of door hangers for emergency cards, for example to animal feed banks and animal welfare organizations, so owners can make their wishes known.

Another organization, Pet Peace of Mind, works directly with about 250 hospices around the country to provide and train volunteers who care for pets for the seriously and terminally ill, said Dianne McGill, president and founder of Salem, Oregon. Most hospices provide home services where pets often provide comfort and support.

“These specialty volunteers bring with them knowledge of pet care so they can do whatever it takes to help,” she said. “So they walk, eat, play, clean up or help arrange a resettlement plan.”

While offering pet care or adoption services is often not top of mind for social workers or nurses, it is a huge emotional driving force for patients and relatives who live far away, McGill said.

“Nursing staff hear about the problems from family members,” she said. “They say my mother is really, really upset about what’s going to happen to her pet. I live outside the state. I can not help her. How do we get some pet care in place while she’s navigating her graduation trip or when she passing by?”

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