What Happens When. . .

question-markI’ve passed this one particular house in Roanoke several times on my daily commute for the past decade. It always put a smile on my face to see several cats just hanging out in the front yard. There was a white one, a black one, and a black-and-white one. I would even look forward to driving past and seeing the cats. Over the years, the white one disappeared. I haven’t seen the black-and-white one for several months now. . .only the black one remains which now sports a collar I can see from the road.

Recently, I noticed different vehicles coming and going from this property. There was a yard sale one weekend and a couple was doing some yardwork another time I drove by.

About six weeks ago, I got up my nerve and stopped. I got out of my car, introduced myself and told the man raking leaves I always looked forward to passing that house, just to see the cats.

John* told me the owner of the house had died recently and there was only one cat left. The black-and-white one died several months ago and was buried somewhere in the yard. The only occupant of the home now was the elderly black cat and he was on a mission to find it a home. John explained he and his wife had raised several animals, including an African Grey, and at this point in their lives, they didn’t want to take care of any more. He had contacted a Roanoke area rescue who said they wouldn’t take Charlie* because he was 14, even though he’s in good health. So Charlie had been staying there until he found a new home because there was no plan for him outliving his owner.

A recent post on Facebook was about a woman who had died and her pets were at a Central Virginia animal shelter because she hadn’t made any plans for them.

Have you ever thought of what would happen to your pets if you weren’t there to take care of them? You don’t have to be like Leona Helmsley, the wealthy hotel magnate who left her Maltese $12 million when she died, but you might want to find someone who will take care of Fido or Fluffy as their own, before it’s too late.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be in writing or in a will. I’m reminded of an acquaintance who died suddenly a couple of years ago. Several times he had asked a friend, who visited his dog frequently, to take her if anything should happen to him. So instead of going back to the rescue, his family, friends, and members of the rescue decided Shawna* should take her in. And Molly* is still there today.

UPDATE: Activity at the house ground to a halt a couple of weeks ago. I contacted John via Facebook a few days ago who said time had run out for Charlie and he took him to the pound, where he’s up for adoption.

So, as you contemplate the beginning of a new year, as yourself, “What happens when I’m not around to take care of my beloved pets anymore? It might be a good time to discuss your wishes with those who care about you-and your pets.

*names have been changed

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