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  • Amy Privette

February is Responsible Pet Owner Month

According to the Humane Society of the United States, 68 percent of U.S. households include a pet. Forty-two percent have more than one pet in the household. Together, we own more than 180 million dogs and cats! That doesn't include the millions of birds, horses, tropical fish, ferrets, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, lizards, snakes, turtles…you get the picture.

Beagle puppy

We Americans really love our pets. Most of us consider our pets our family (63.2%). Only one percent of pet-owners consider pets to be property, yet many people spend more time planning for how their property will be distributed after death and fail to consider the effect their death will have on their pets.

February is Responsible Pet Owner Month and while the focus is on the importance of properly caring for our companion animals, I think a responsible pet owner is one who has planned for the continued care and well-being of his or her pets in the event something happens to the owner. Shelters and veterinarians euthanize an estimated 500,000 pets each year when their owners predecease them. While an outright gift to an animal is void under the law of some states, the creation of a trust for the care of your beloved animal companions is permissible in North Carolina.

The main objective of using a pet trust is to provide a flexible method for managing financial assets for the benefit of any pets that survive you. By using a trust, you can designate a party to act as guardian or caretaker for the pet. Furthermore, a trust allows you to leave specific instructions concerning the standard of care and special needs of your beloved companion animal.

It is also important to consider how your animals will be cared for if you have a medical emergency. Our firm has partnered with DocuBank - an emergency health care directives service - to provide clients with an Emergency Card that they carry in their purse or wallet. Noted right on the card is the fact that there are animals in the home that need to be tended to in the event of an emergency. DocuBank also provides easy access to contact information for your pet’s guardian or caregiver. Access to this information is vital if you have a medical emergency that keeps you away from home and unable to take care of your pet.

In honor of Responsible Pet Owners Month, we suggest that you give your beloved companion some extra treats this week. But not too many—that would be irresponsible.

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