What happens to our pets when we die?

We don’t like to think about these things, do we? So, very often, we simply don’t. We leave to chance the fate of the animals that we have loved and that have loved us so well. We say “My family members or friends will take care of them.” Really? Are you so sure? What if the unthinkable happens instead?

Most of us would immediately take our pets to the vet when they are in pain. We are their guardians. What animals cannot do for themselves we accept—through love—as our responsibility in caring for them. It is an implicit responsibility in living with any pet—except for that part about our passing. We often wriggle out of that one.

Maybe now is a good time to give some thought to this. Have that conversation with family members or friends. Think about defining what happens to your pets in your will. It doesn’t have to be as extreme as the choice made by famous New York real estate heiress and “Queen of Mean” Leona Helmsley. Helmsley left $12,000,000 to her beloved Maltese Terrier named Trouble. But having something in writing is a very good idea, and, perhaps—if you’re able—some sort of stipend to pay for your pets’ care after you’re gone.

What we don’t plan is left to chance.

Some of these animals—the lucky ones—wind up at Cascades Humane Society looking for their second forever home.

Bear, a 3-year-old German Shepherd mix, came to CHS earlier this year for just such a reason: the death of his owner. He was certainly mourning the death of his owner, but Bear adapted well to life at CHS. All of the staff and volunteers made a special point to love him as much as possible.

Although some folks still question the emotional capabilities of animals, here at CHS, we see clear evidence of the grief and mourning animals go through at the loss of their families or animal buddies through death or separation. Many animals that come through our doors are already dealing with mourning the loss of their families. They are then subjected to a complete change in their surroundings as well. It’s tough on them emotionally. It can take some time for our skilled volunteers and staff to bring them back to loving life and trusting people again.

Fortunately, as it turned out, Bear was only passing through. He was only here for 10 days before finding his new home.

And his new family loves him! They noted “Bear is doing super and we adore him! He’s a great dog with a super temperament. He’s fitting in wonderfully, and he and our Black Lab, Abbey, are becoming best buds. Thanks again for this great dog and your wonderful service. We will certainly refer our friends to you and will come back in search of future pets. Thanks again!”

We couldn’t be happier for Bear and his new family. This is why we do what we do every day at CHS!

Please take Bear’s story to heart. While his story has a happy ending, wouldn’t you rather know for sure where your pets are going if you’re no longer able to care for them?