How do I make sure my dog doesn’t go to a shelter if something happens to me?

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Most dogs that end up in shelters don’t have a home. Your dog’s home is with you, but if something should ever happen to you, what happens to your pet? No matter what age or state of health you’re in, it’s important to know who’s going to take care of your dog in the event that you experience a major change.

Don’t assume your friends or family will take over the responsibility. In order to be certain, it’s imperative that you actually discuss the idea with them. Try to find a backup home for your dog in case those you are depending on can’t follow through with their promise. Make sure they know who that backup person is and how to contact them. If you have any doubt that your designated caretaker will come through, discuss with them whether leaving money for the dog’s expenses would help.

Don’t be embarrassed to leave money in your will for your pet’s care. If you’re not convinced your caregiver will come through, contact a rescue group—there are countless on Petfinder and other similar websites. Should you feel comfortable with them, ask if you can make a donation for your dog’s future care until they’re able to find him a home (or even if they’re unable to). Research the rescue’s reputation, and be sure to see their facilities. Not all rescues can offer this, but some do.

Do whatever you can to ensure that your pet, whose life became your responsibility when you adopted him, has a safe place to go after you’re gone, and that those close to you know where that is.

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