Your Furry Companion

Imagine you are walking in the park and there are pets everywhere. Some are in strollers, some wearing sunglasses, some dressed in a diamond collar, others having a birthday party with their "friends". You look down at your dog and realize you would do anything you could to make sure they are well taken care of. Owning a pet in many ways is like having a child. There is feeding, bathing, haircuts, cleaning up accidents, exercise and the list goes on. Pets are becoming more common in households around the globe. They are so common that people literally take them everywhere they go, they have their own rooms in the house, and are even left with millions of dollars from their owners' estate. Enter the age of pet humanization. Planning for the future should include your pet. There are a plethora of topics to discuss that will help alleviate headaches, cost and turmoil down the road. One important topic to consider when you own a pet is pet insurance. This service has been around for a while but has really taken off in the last decade. If you are considering getting a pet look into pet insurance to see if it is a proper fit for you. Providers will offer coverage and base it off multiple factors like age and breed. If you have an exotic pet look for a company that could cover them. Insurance for a pet can be costly, if they have pre-existing conditions, are a certain breed or are older, so be sure to watch out for deductibles and rising cost as the pet ages. Sometimes the vet bill might be cheaper than the insurance bill. Do your research before deciding on what is best for your situation. Getting married is already stressful enough but adding your pet into the mix can make it worse. While we hope your marriage does not end in divorce, they unfortunately happen and so do custody battles for your fur child. A way to eliminate a long court battle is a pet prenup (may not be available in your state since some courts still consider pets as property). If a prenup is not an option, make sure you have documentation of who provides the majority amount of care for the pet and who pays for the expenses incurred. Some courts will even base their decision off of who signed the papers to "purchase" the pet and take that document into consideration. If you do end up in a battle with your spouse this can help determine who should get custody of the pet. This might sound a bit odd, but it would not hurt having your pet included in your estate plan, whether you put them in your Will or a Trust. If you do not have that completed at least set aside funds for their care and hand write out your desires for them. It is not uncommon these days to see estates pass on to people's pets. You do not have to go to those lengths, but as a generic make sure you designate a caregiver in the event of your sudden passing. Often animals who survive their owner's end up being put into a shelter hopefully to be adopted but that is not always the outcome. Prepare for the sudden events and make sure that your fur child can continue their life and make another person happy just as they did you. A sad day awaits us when they start to grey and can no longer play like a puppy. Unfortunately, that sometimes ends in a tough decision. We all hope they will go peacefully in the night and we will one day meet them again, but we cannot control that timing. Death of a fur child can be emotionally stressful and expensive. This decision is not for the faint of heart but it is a necessary evil. Think about doing an in-home euthanasia procedure. They are less stressful on your pet and you and they are relatively the same cost as going to the vet (which is stressful and who wants to ugly cry in front of 5 other people). An alternative method is to check with your local Humane Society. Typically, they offer these services and are not as costly. Keep in mind though that you might not be able to stay with your pet for the procedure. On the day of you have options of cremation or they can release them back to you so you can decide what to do (burial). Cremation can be costly depending on the route you choose. Do not spend thousands of dollars to keeps you fur child alive as long as possible if that puts you in a financial bind. Make sure you have a plan before making a decision to help through this difficult time. Include in your plan to give your pet one last "fun" day of eating whatever they want, taking a walk through the park and enjoying some couch time. Although pets do not have as long a lifespan as we want them to have, they leave a lasting impression on our lives forever. As pet owners we want to see their lives thrive so having things planned out ahead of time will allow you to enjoy having them in the family for as long as they are here with us. Written By: Erin Watkins