This question is often difficult to answer, especially for older persons or those in residential care. Volunteers are providing assistance and rescue services for pets during the pandemic.
Leaders of the small movement stated that the past two years have helped open the eyes of many.
"The problem with COVID is that a lot people think, I can't guarantee to be here forever. People are making plans ahead of time, which is better than waiting until their loved ones are in grave danger. Amy Shever, who founded 2nd Chance 4 Pets in Sacramento, California, said that it has become a popular choice.
According to the Best Friends Network, which includes thousands of shelters, rescue groups, and other animal welfare organizations across the 50 states, the number of pets that have been surrendered to shelters because of caretaker death or health has increased from 7.3% in 2009, to 10.2% during the pandemic.
Shever stated that senior pets often end up in shelters, or being the first to be put down after being declared unadoptable. Relatives who are unable to take in a pet cat or dog often give them up. Parrots and other pets have a longer life expectancy, which can sometimes scare off beloved ones.
Shever's main focus is to educate shelters and veterinarians about how they can be involved. Shever's organization also offers guidance to pet owners who are in dire need. She encourages pet owners to find a dedicated caregiver, give written instructions about a pet's daily routine and create a financial plan. For instance, her group distributed thousands of emergency-card doorshangers to animal welfare organizations and pet food banks so that owners could make their wishes known.
Pet Peace of Mind is another organization that works directly with approximately 250 hospices across the country to train and provide volunteers who care for the terminally and seriously ill pets. Dianne McGill, founder and president in Salem Oregon, stated that this organization also has a number of other organizations. The majority of hospices offer home services where pets can often provide comfort and support.
She said that these volunteers are able to share their knowledge and expertise in pet care so that they can help wherever it is needed. They help to organize a plan for rehoming by walking, feeding, cleaning up, or playing with the pets.
McGill stated that while providing pet care and adoption services is not often top of mind for nurses or social workers, it is a powerful emotional driver for loved ones who live far away.
She said that relatives often tell caregivers about their concerns. They say that my mom is very upset about what will happen to her pet. I am out of state. I can't help her. How can we help her navigate her end-of life journey and when she dies?
McGill stated, "I have a million stories of patients who literally hung onto the news that their pet had a new home."
Enter angels-on-earth like 79-year-old Kathy Reister.
With the help of Tyson's Place Animal Rescue, Holland, Michigan she adopted Jackson, a 12-year old Chihuahua. This nonprofit assists people suffering from terminal illnesses to find homes for their pets. Reister was diagnosed with congestive cardiac failure after she lost her dog. She was struggling to be at home when Jackson arrived last August.
The widow said, "I have never been without a pet dog since 1965." "His previous owner had died."
Jackson was later diagnosed with congestive cardiac failure. Tyson's Place provided a grant to Reister to cover his medical expenses. If her health deteriorates, she promised to rehoming him at the agency.
Reister, from Grandville, Michigan, said, "Having him has really helped my want to continue living and fighting." I started walking one block down the block and one block home with him. We now walk for at least 20-25 minutes each day. He must walk, and I must walk. He has made such an impact on my life."
Caitlin Koska (31), and Michael White (34), in Ypsilanti were able to include Luna, a 14-year-old Chihuahua, in their May 1 ceremony. Luna was adopted by Tyson's Place in Ypsilanti around Thanksgiving 2020. Their ring bearer was Luna, a Chihuahua.
Koska stated that her owner had moved into a nursing facility and was unable to care for her anymore. She has poor hearing, cataracts, and a lot of dental problems. She is the most adorable dog. Everyone who has met her knows how much she loves them."
Jill Bannink Albrecht founded Tyson's Place six years ago. It serves the whole state of Michigan. They work directly with pet owners before rehoming becomes urgent or with family members following a death.
Tyson's Place provided extensive dental care for Luna before Koska was adopted.
"I worked in a high-kill shelter for animals, so I was familiar with what happens to the dogs that come in. One dog that animal control picked up from his deceased owner was one I can recall. He didn't have an opportunity to adopt. Bannink-Albrecht stated that he was put to rest because there wasn't enough space.
Tyson's Place is now referred by social workers and hospices. Bannink-Albrecht is trying to expand her foster reach.
She stated that she couldn't keep up with the demand for this type of service, particularly when it comes cats. "In the past two months, 40 cats have been turned away by me because they don't have a home."
Bannink-Albrecht is aware of only a handful of rescues similar to hers. Canada has one more that needs assistance.
Angela Rafuse (27), a Halifax, Nova Scotia resident, started My Grandfather's Cat in May 18th, the birthday of her grandfather. Mackenzie, his 14-year-old, grumpy cat, died in 2019.
Rafuse stated that she was my grandmother's best friend, and my grandfather cared for her for the year after she died. He wouldn't have his name put on the nursing home list knowing that nobody would accept the cat who has the most grumpy meows I've ever heard.
Rafuse promised her grandfather that she would take Mackenzie. She started posting TikTok videos about their adventures. Mackenzie scratching Rafuses' face while holding the camera up has been viewed almost a million times.
Rafuse stated that people began sharing their stories about their grandparents' cats ending up in shelters, and how they worry about their pets or dogs. "I have worked for a non-profit for four years, so it should be easy to find resources that can help these people. There was nothing that could empower a senior, help them organize this, and empower their family. All that existed was shelter.
She launched her website and received many emails asking for donations and help. However, she didn't have enough foster families to meet the demand. She is working to expand. Rafuse hopes to keep her pet home until the end.
Mackenzie is enjoying her best life hiking and kayaking with Rafuse.
Rafuse stated that she is still grumpy. "She has a special relationship with my dad. I know that my dad loves it because she is the last thing he has to do for his parents."