Friday, March 27, 2009

Plan For Your Pets

By Al Sinden

“Do you know where your children are?” is a familiar line if you’re a ‘Boomer.' Most of us in that generation know the answer(s) to it, but it’s our children’s turn to answer it today.

Or is it?

If you have a pet or pets, have you made plans for what will happen to those pets if you are unable to care for yourself or them and have to go into a hospital or a physical rehab facility or nursing center?

As we grow older, things beyond our control happen more frequently. Our beloved pets are alone and at the mercy of whoever is available – if anyone is. They might go without food or water for days in some cases. In the worst cases, someone may turn your beloved pet over to animal control, put it out on the street, or otherwise evict it or them.

Plan for your pets' welfare...

Talk with your friends, family and veterinarian about what you would like to see happen to and for your furry, feathery or finny family if you become unable to care for them any longer. You may have friends who are willing and able to take one or more of your family into their home. Be sure you let them know about any special needs or ‘behavior problems’ before something happens to you.

It’s not fair to ask someone to take responsibility for a pet that needs routine (and possibly expensive) medical care or deal with a cat or dog that is not careful in its bathroom habits, unless you have discussed those needs and problems to give the person who will foster them an insight into problems they can expect.

Put it in writing...

Put all instructions for your pet family in writing. If you have more than one pet involved, ask one of the people on your list to take the added responsibility of being the “pet wrangler” who will see that each pet goes with the appropriate person. Add the names and phone numbers of every person who agrees to become responsible for each loved little friend, including a description of each pet to avoid confusion and mistakes. Give a copy to:

  • Each person who will be involved in your pets' welfare
  • Neighbors or friends to whom you may have given a key to your house or apartment
  • Your family members who will be looking after your apartment or house
  • Your landlord – if you have one
  • Your veterinarian

Finally, keep a copy in your wallet or purse AND post another copy on your refrigerator.

Following the above procedures will help assure that your furry, feathered or finned friends will be properly cared for, whether as ‘foster kids,’ or as members of a new family.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Having a Baby... Time to Get Rid of the Cat?

Children and Pets,

By Al Sinden

If you’re thinking of getting rid of your pet because you’re expecting a baby, please think again. Pets can be an important part of a baby’s first years. Children can form deep bonds with pets that provide many enriched experiences that enhance their growth and development.

Emotional & Physical

Pets provide a touchable, huggable warm living body to cling to in times of physical or emotional pain. In times of family upheaval such as divorce, sickness, death, or even job loss, children need that extra comfort of a warm, affectionate body.


Adults tend to concentrate on the immediate problem. Children are often unwitting sufferers as the adults around them go through major life adjustments. They fail to recognize that children, even babies, are very aware of the emotional atmosphere around them. The presence of a much-loved pet provides a safe and secure place for the child to feel their own emotional distress without further disturbing the already distracted adults.

Personal Development

As they grow, children develop personal responsibility by learning to properly interact with, feed and care for pets. They learn that animals, like people, can be irritable when they don’t feel good. Children learn the value of being gentle at those times.

Supervise child-pet interactions to assure neither child or pet is injured or mistreated in any way if your child is under age three. (If you’ve ever had tiny, exploring fingers remove a hunk of your hair, or lodged painfully in your eye, ear or nose, you’ll understand that tiny fingers can easily cause pain and discomfort!)


Pets can teach children how to play and romp, then take time out for a rest. Children can learn how to laugh as they play with their animals.

Running and playing is good exercise for both pet and child (it’s good for adults, too).

Children and pets go together very naturally and can help teach many of life’s lessons. The only time you should consider getting rid of a pet is if a slightly older child consistently causes deliberate pain or injury to a pet. Then, for the sake of the pet, get it out of harm’s way and IMMEDIATELY get long-term help for the child.