As pet owners, we would do anything for our fur babies, right? If you agree, you’re among the vast majority of pet owners who consider them living breathing members of the family. And if you’re like me, you’ve spent more money on treats, toys, and sweaters for your dog than you have on your own wardrobe!
So, if we treasure our furry friends and invest so much in them, why are most of us completely unprepared when it comes to future planning for our pets?
Beyond the fancy dog bed, doggy daycare, grooming, and veterinary care, it’s just as essential to safeguard your pets against any unforeseen circumstances that leave you unable to care for them. Making (or updating) your Will to include a guardian for your pet(s) is the only way to legally ensure they are taken care of, no matter what happens.
In honour of National Dog Day, here are five shocking stats to consider to remind you of the importance of including your pets in your estate planning.
Over 41% of Canadian households have at least one dog, which equates to about 8.2 million pet dogs. That’s a lot of K9s! And that number has only increased throughout the pandemic as shelters get cleared out, and breeders amass long waitlists.
Pet owners share a special bond with their furry companions. 95% of pet owners consider their pets as part of the family—and that love translates to the big bucks. Pet owners invest billions of dollars–over $8 billion to be exact–into their pets’ health and well being. So, considering all this, most pet owners feel it’s essential to plan ahead and protect that investment, which brings us to our next big statistic.
Ok, so this stat might not come as a total surprise seeing how much we love our good boys and girls.
While this particular stat might not be so shocking, what IS shocking is how few of them take action on this, which brings us to our next jaw-dropping statistic. If we see our pets as living breathing members of our family, why are so many of us devastatingly unprepared if we can no longer take care of them?
A whopping 93% of pet owners haven’t formally appointed a guardian to take care of their pets if they pass away. Yes, you read that right.
The only way to legally do this is to have a valid Will. When choosing the person you’d want to take care of your pets, choose someone you know and trust. Ideally, someone who has already built a good relationship with your pets as well! We also recommend you have a conversation with this person ahead of time to make sure they can take on that role—guardianship should never come as a surprise.
For Taylor Mcdonald and her partner Joe, the decision of who would be the guardian to their two rescue dogs was an easy one. There was no question in their minds that it would be Taylor’s sister, Chloe. When they asked her if she’d be willing to take on that role, she gladly accepted. She’d always helped them out with when the dogs were puppies and are their go-to dog sitter. Plus, it was crucial to them that the dogs stay together and never be separated.
Taylor and Joe are in their 20s, so it’s an unlikely scenario to think about. But as self-proclaimed “over-planners,” they also know that life can be unpredictable. Knowing that their pups are protected no matter what happens helps them sleep much more soundly at night.
So, if almost all pet owners treat their “furbabies” like their actual babies, why do only 7% have a formal plan in place? The reason for this is that most people are under the incorrect assumption that someone in their friend or family group will ‘step up’ and care for the pet.
46% of people believe that a surviving family member will take care of their pets. The sad reality is that this is not always the case. And if no one is willing to take on the responsibility, more often than not your pet ends up at a local shelter with an uncertain future.
Recently, this has been highlighted during the Coronavirus pandemic as many shelters experience an influx of pets left homeless due to the pandemic.
Ensuring you have a competent guardian lined up for your pets is one thing, but equipping them with the resources to care for them the way you want is another. Yet only 2 in 5 of Will-makers left money to the person appointed as guardian for their pets.
It’s good practice to leave a monetary gift to your pets’ guardian to help cover expenses like vet visits, food, toys, and dog walking. As you are well aware, being a pet owner comes with a lot of associated responsibilities and expenses. Leaving a monetary legacy for your pet also minimizes the risk of someone giving the pet up because they can't afford it.
If these stats shocked you, they should! You put so much time, money, and love into ensuring your dogs live their best possible lives. It’s essential to take the extra step of including them in your Will to ensure they continue to receive that same level of care in the event you’re no longer around.
No, it’s not fun to think about, but it’s important to consider every possibility when it comes to future planning. And it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive! If you only have a basic estate, you can make your Will today in as little as 20 minutes with online tools, like Epilogue.
We know how much you adore your pets and that you would do literally anything for them. Having a Will in place is one way to turn that love into action.