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Pet owners fail to provide for their pets

05 Oct 2011

We may love them and care passionately for them whilst we are alive, but the fact remains that most pet owners are still not making adequate provision for their pets to be cared for after their death.

Although research shows that over 1.5 million people have apparently provided for their pets in their will, national solicitors’ firm Richard Nelson LLP has estimated that as few as 1 in 10 pet owners have made any formal provision for their pets. With over 27 million pets in the UK, that equates to a substantial problem and one that continues to grow as pet ownership increases.

Whilst many pet owners gain some peace of mind through informal arrangements with a friend or neighbour to care for their pets, this is not always enough. Food costs, vet’s bills and kennel costs can be a substantial drain on a person’s resources and many will feel obligated to continue to care for a deceased friend’s pet even though they can ill‐afford to do so.

Whilst many animal charities provide rescue centres for animals which have been left homeless, and schemes such as the RSPCA’s Home for Life do exist, many people are still not aware of them. In any event, there is no guarantee that they will succeed in placing a pet with someone able to look after it. Thus, the only safe way of ensuring that your pet is cared for after your death is to make specific provision in your Will and to ensure that funds are made available to the carer to assist with the costs of looking after the pet.

Often pet owners do not realise that in many cases relatives are reluctant to take on the responsibility of caring for a pet. It is a good idea, therefore, for them to discuss the matter with the person they would like to take care of your pets before making a Will and to make provision ‐ either by way of a regular payment or capital sum, to help with the costs of the pet’s future care.

Pet owners need, therefore, to think about the welfare of their pets in the same way that they would think about all other aspects of their estate and should consider appointing someone in their Will to look after their pets in the event of their death and establishing a fund which is able to be used for the pet’s welfare and upkeep. If they don’t then there is a grave danger that the pet will become homeless and uncared for.

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