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What If…? Planning for Your Four-legged Family Too

Breed Rescue: Chihuahua toy dog breed


As Breed Rescue Chair of the Chihuahua Club of America, I help to find resources for Chihuahuas in need all over the United States. Most of the time, I contact a member near the need or a respected breed rescue group to try to assist. Many of our local member clubs also have a system for rescue.

For years, I’ve been preaching to dog owners, particularly Chihuahua owners, to create a plan to ensure their dogs will be cared for promptly if the owner becomes disabled or passes away. Usually the response is, “I have them in my Will.” Unfortunately, the Will is usually in a safety deposit box and won’t be accessed for many days.

In the past few years, several members or former members of the parent club have died without leaving any instructions for the care of their dogs. One, luckily, had a friend who had a kennel to hold the dogs while the breeders or co-owners of some of the dogs were located and picked them up. Several remained orphans, though we managed to get them picked up and transported to a great rescue.

Another person lived alone and was found deceased in her home, with several Chihuahuas. Luckily, the first responders took those dogs to a great local humane society and a mutual friend helped me contact the only family member. He had the dogs released to Texas Chihuahua Rescue and the dogs were adopted to great homes.

Those dogs could just as easily have ended up in a bad situation. After thinking about this for a long time, I’ve got some suggestions.


Prepare for Your Dogs’ Care Before the Need

  1. Write out who should be called in an emergency, with phone numbers, email, etc., and put it on the refrigerator or in another prominent place. Update this as needed and make sure your friends and family are made aware of it.
  2. Prepare a list of all your animals and include their names, ages, descriptions, microchip numbers, and a photograph of each animal. Keep this in a prominent place and give a copy to your designee. (See Item 1.) Include veterinarian’s contact information and update the list as needed.
  3. Make sure someone checks in on you periodically. The two examples noted died alone at home. No one knew right away. So, set up a buddy system and check on your friends and neighbors as well.
  4. About the Will: Go ahead and make provisions to support your animals from your estate, but please understand that it might take a while for the Will to be probated. Be sure your Executor knows what you want to do.
  5. And just in case you are away from home for part of the day and are in an accident or become ill suddenly, here’s a simple idea. Have an emergency contact prominently displayed in your car, wallet or purse, with the emergency contact information on it. One commercial card that I saw read: “My pets are at home alone, please call ___ so that he/she can take care of them.