Missy's Hope Equine Rescue Resource 



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Responsible Ownership

What is responsible ownership?  Responsible ownership is considering the future when you purchase or adopt a pet.  That first moment of ownership is sweet and nothing else seems to matter, but it is so important to have a plan set up for all situations.  Some things to consider when you are creating your future plans for your new companion are:  What will I do with my pet if I lose my job and cannot afford him/her?  What will I do if my pet requires medical treatment that I cannot afford?  What will I do when my pet dies or needs to be euthanized?  What will I do if I die before my pet?  These are all important issues that as pet owners we need to consider.  Like our children, we need to prepare and have a plan for any situation that our pet may have.

Letís start with the first question.  What will I do with my pet if I lose my job and cannot afford him/her?  This is an easy situation to get into.  It can happen at any time and most often it is unexpected.  One thing you can do for your pet is to talk to your family and friends.  Find out if they would be willing to temporarily take in your pet until you are back on your feet.  Offer to help with the daily care and to supply money for them as you can until a new job can be found.  If you are unable to find a friend or relative who can help with your pet, look into the local shelters and rescues.  Find out which ones are no kill, which ones require a fee to donate your pet to, find out about their adoption policy, and research them thoroughly.  Talk to the shelter ahead of time.  They may know of other local options that can help you, such as temporary foster homes.  This is a good way to know ahead of time where your pet can go if worst comes to worst.  Once you have an idea of where your pet will go, write out the plan with all the details.  It helps to do this ahead of time so you can be less stressed if the situation ever comes to pass. 

Next, consider what you will do if your pet requires medical treatment that you cannot afford.  Pets can injure themselves in ways that owners cannot possibly imagine ahead of time.  Horses can colic, dog can eat things that they shouldnít, and any pet can accidentally get hit by a car.  You need to set up a plan of action if something like this occurs.  First consider setting up a savings account for your pet.  Put a small amount of money away for your pet each paycheck if possible.  Start out with a fair initial deposit of around twenty-five to fifty dollars, more if you possibly can.  Then add to your account each month.  Five dollars a month will go a long way if your pet stays healthy and you donít have to use it.  Consider getting a credit card for pet emergencies only.  Most vet offices will accept the major credit cards, but be sure to check with them to see which cards they accept before getting a card.  If this is not something that you can do right away, talk with your vet.  Find out if they will accept payments.  Some vets are happy to help in an emergency situation by allowing payments, while others are not.  Some vets require a certain amount of down payment before they will consider accepting payments.  It is best to know your vetís preference ahead of time.   Also ask your vet if there is a local organization that helps out in emergency situations.  Find out if your vet knows of companies that will do loans for emergency pet care. You should also consider talking to your family and friends to see if they would be willing to help out in an emergency.  What if the time comes and you still cannot afford to help your pet?  Then you have to consider euthanasia.  It is a hard choice to make and it is one that most people donít like to consider.  The thing to remember is that you need to do what is best for your pet.  If you cannot afford the treatment needed, then it is better to euthanize your pet than to let them suffer needlessly.

What happens if your pet dies or needs to be euthanized?  All pets reach this point.  It is our job as their speaking family member to do what is right for them.  You need to set up a plan for your pet ahead of time.  Talk to your vet about the cost of euthanasia.  Find out what your local laws are for burial of your pet.  In some places, it is okay to bury your small (and sometimes your large) pet on your property.  In some places it is illegal to do so.  If you live in a place where burial is illegal, talk to your vet and find out what your local options are.  Some places have crematoriums where you can take your pet for a fee and have their ashes returned to you, and sometimes your vet can even make the arrangements for you with a signed form.  If these are not options available to you, your vet can tell you what the typical arrangements are in your town.  With large pets, such as horses, things can be much more difficult.  Burying a horse on your property can be expensive if you donít own your own equipment.  You may need to hire a backhoe, if you are comfortable using one, or hire a professional to come out.  Be sure to find out where all your water, electrical, and gas lines are ahead of time, call your utility companies and most will come out and mark the lines for you.  If you are not sure whom to contact for assistance with burying your pet, contact your local funeral home.  Many times the persons who dig the graves for the cemeteries are willing to dig graves for your large pets.  Be sure to have your horse euthanized close to your planned burial site.  If you are not allowed to bury your horse on your property, you need to find out what the cost is for your local rendering plant to do a pick up.  Find out how long it will take before pick up and choose your euthanasia spot carefully so that there is easy access for the truck.  Also consider taking your horse directly to the vetís office for euthanasia.  Most vets have an arrangement for pick up with the rendering plant.   

Now you need to consider what will happen to your pet if you die first.  Making a will that includes your pet is the best thing that you can do for them.  The best solution for your pet is to find a family member or friend who would be willing to take in your pet.  If this is not an option for your pet, make arrangements with a shelter or rescue for your pet if something should happen to you.  Remember to choose your shelter or rescue carefully based on your pet and his/her needs.  Consider leaving money specifically for the care of your pet, if possible.   The money should be enough to feed your pet, cover most medical bills, and a minimum of enough money to cover euthanzia for your pet when the time comes in the future.  If you have any special requests for your pet (i.e. burial in a certain spot) make sure that those requests are in writing. 

These situations are not easy to think about, especially if you and your pet are young.  Just keep in mind that accidents can happen and the only way to be sure you can handle them is to be prepared ahead of time.  Your pet deserves the time it takes to make sure that they are always well cared for and that their future is planned out.



Written by Brandi M. Qualset, 2007



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