Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on Sept. 11. Volunteer today

Most Popular


Who Will Take Care of Your Pets?

Make a plan for your furry and feathered friends in case something happens to you

En español | Jackie Treneer, a professional pet sitter in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., adopted a 14-year-old bichon frise and a 4-year-old miniature poodle when she discovered that their owner — one of her longtime clients — had died and the woman's husband was unable to keep the pets.

See also: Answers to Your Top Pet Questions

 "It wasn't cheap for me to take on the care of these dogs, but it was the right thing to do," says Treneer, owner of Angels Pet Sitting Service.

Shaggy dog on the beach

Setting up a trust ensures your pet will be cared for after you are gone. — Steven Fisher/Gallery Stock

It doesn't have to be that way. Just as most of us make funeral arrangements, set our affairs in order and draw up wills to help our families with painful transitions, it's possible to make arrangements to help your animal companions, as well. Here's how to be prepared:

Identify true pet allies. Select people who are willing to step in and care for your pets should you require hospitalization, become incapacitated or die. Do not assume your friends or relatives will adopt or even temporarily care for your pets. Select two or three caregivers and discuss details with them. Offer to reciprocate for their pets, if you desire and are able to do so.

Pack a pet-plus ID. In addition to your own basic identification and contact information, you should always make sure to carry along info about your pets: Their names and ages; contact numbers for the vet and after-hours pet emergency clinic; and names and phone numbers for your pet's backup caregivers. (Also list any medication your pets may be taking, as well as details about where you keep their supplies.) And keep a copy of this in a visible place in your home, such as on your refrigerator, for emergency personnel to quickly spot.  

Spell out each pet's care in writing. Detail how your surviving pets should be cared for, by whom and where — in another home or in a pet sanctuary. Provide info on each pet's personality, eating habits, special needs, favorite items and rituals. Let people know where you keep these instructions.

Budget for your pets' care by setting up a fund. This fund should cover the cost of your pets' food, medical needs and supplies. You can work out a monthly payment plan with estate planners, financial planners or life insurance company representatives.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Carrabba's Italian Grill Chicken Plate, Member Benefits

Members save 15% on lunch and dinner every day at Carrabba's Italian Grill.

Member Benefit AARP Regal 2

Members pay $8 for Regal ePremiere tickets purchased online. Conditions apply.

membership ancestry

Members save 30% on  a one-year subscription to

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Being Social



Pet owners and animal lovers, join Dr. Marty Becker for daily tips and lively discussions on our loyal companions. Discuss


Cat got your tongue? If yes, this group is for you. Get the latest on cat hardware, food recalls and how to trick a cat into taking his meds. Discuss

Birds as Pets

Does your bird talk? Share with us some of your favorite words or phrases. Discuss