ConsumerWatch: What Will Happen to Your Pet After You Die?

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – Most of us think we’ll outlive our pets, but that’s not always the case. There are a variety of placement programs available to ensure quality care for pets after an owner dies or becomes incapacitated.

The San Francisco SPCA’s SIDO program has been around the longest. Named after a pooch named Sido who outlived his owner, SIDO promises to find dogs and cats a loving home. The program also takes care of the animal’s medical needs.

Pet owners fill out an extensive questionnaire about their pet’s habits, likes, dislikes, and medical conditions to help insure the pet’s needs are met. Pet owners also agree to make a financial contribution to the program. Veronique Larinault of San Francisco has enrolled her dog Rosie in the SIDO program.

“She’s a member of the family,” Larinault said.

Hopalong’s Pet Survior Program, another pet placement program, offers similar services.

Pet trusts are another way to ensure a pet’s future. Pet owners can set up a fund for their pets’ expenses, designating both a caretaker and a trustee. Attorney Veronica Cerruti said it’s advisable to have two different individuals fill those roles to provide a system of “checks and balances.” Pet trusts are normally included as part of a will, but can be set up separately.

Informal arrangements can also be made, such as verbal agreements or understandings with friends or relatives who would become caretakers. But Tina Ahn of the San Francisco SPCA warns such informal agreements are risky, and sometimes backfire.

“The worst case scenario…the animal could be dropped off somewhere or left with a friend or family member that you never intended to have care for your pet,” Ahn said.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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