On Your Side
What happens to your pets when you die?
Many people make decisions on what would happen to their estate if they died. But there's one thing people may not have planned for, what happens to your pets if you die? Some find euthanasia as the best personal option. Video by tmj4.comvideo
Many people make decisions on what would happen to their estate if they died. But there's one thing people may not have planned for, what happens to your pets if you die? Some find euthanasia as the best personal option.
If your pets outlive you most would think they'd be left to a relative or friend who could care for them or possibly a foster home or shelter. But some take a more arguably drastic measure. They have their pets put to sleep. The reasons vary a pet could be older or have serious health problems, the owner may not have anyone who can look after them, or it might be an owner's request because of the emotional dependency. Veterinarian Mike Hord works hard every day to save furry loved ones. He says most people make arrangements to have them cared for.
"There are times where people don't know that they have those options to them and I feel they think that their only out is that nobody's going to take care of my animal after I'm gone so I'm going to have to get it euthanized," Dr Hord explained.
A woman who passed away suddenly planned for her three dogs to be euthanized after her death so they could "cross the rainbow bridge together". PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, stands by what's in the best interest of each individual animal.
"We know of animals literally pining to death mourning and grieving the loss of their guardian," said Teresa Chagrin, the Animal Care & Control Specialist with PETA. "Depending on the animal sometimes it can be more humane to request that they be euthanized after your death rather then re-homed."
In many states, pets are legally considered property, so decisions are up to the owner.
Kelli Nobiling and Valerie Gates with "Paws and Remember", a pet cremation service, have seen this uncommon situation before.
"The dog was so attached to the owner that they decided it was best for the animal to be put down also," Nobiling described. "She was cremated, the pet was cremated, and their ashes were together when they were buried."
"We're not here to pass judgment on anybody on how they choose to euthanize and the reasons behind it," Gates added.
But is it morally or ethically right to euthanize a healthy pet just because the owner asks? The Chicago Sun-Times reports that in May, a judge allowed a bank representing a woman's estate to find a home for a cat though the late owner's will stipulated it should be euthanized.
"If we have a healthy animal brought to us and we've counseled with the people and they still want to go ahead with that we usually say we're not the person to perform that service for you. And I'm sure every clinic in town has that same situation occur," Dr. Hord noted.
Dr. Hord just wants pet owners to explore their options before taking a pet to the grave if the pet's "quality of life" remains.
"We don't want to have to put an animal to sleep that's not ready for that type of scenario, and you can usually tell when they are," Dr. Hord concluded.
PETA has specific options to preparing for a pet's continued life after your death.