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What about the pet?

Carolyn Woodruff

Dear Readers,
Today’s Ask Carolyn addresses aging pet owners who must give up a pet. Just a reminder—as the summer heats up DO NOT leave pets or children in automobiles; remember the heat is magnified by the glass and is dangerous.

Dear Carolyn,
My Mother is now 90, has beginning dementia, and is moving into a senior care facility. She has a nine-year-old cat  named “Angel.” She is worried about Angel, but she cannot take Angel with her to the senior retirement community. She wants me to take Angel. I travel a lot in my lifestyle, but I want Angel to be safe and comfortable. Plus, as a son, I want to make sure my Mother doesn’t worry about Angel. What are your thoughts?

Carolyn Answers:
Pets are bonded family members. Your Mother is right to be concerned about her family member “Angel.” Pets provide comfort and a reason to get up in the morning. There are lots of opportunities and ways for re-adoption of pets. Here are some suggestions.

  1. Finding a new owner for your pet: Discuss Angel with your entire extended family, There likely is a solution among your family. If not, then ask the veterinarian, who may kinow someone looking for a pet. Someone told me last week that she had placed a pet adoption through Craig’s List. The vet should at least know where there is a “no kill shelter,” which obviously is your last resort. Euthanizing is not an option for Angel, as that would depress your Mother greatly in all likelihood. I could not bear the thought of this for Angel.
  2. Transition to the new owner: Ideally, the new owner is close to you, and your Mother and the new owner can spend some time with Angel together before Angel goes to live with the new owner. The new owner might house it for your Mother for a few hours or even an over night, so that Angel becomes familiar with the new owner. Other pointers include: (1) Get a copy of Angel’s medical records from her veterinarian and transfer these vital papers to the new owner. (2) Find out about Angel’s favorite foods and treats.
  3. Your Mother could also set up a small trust for Angel to pay for her care.
  4. After the transition, it would be nice if your Mother could still have visitation with Angel and receive prictures. This would be a continuing comfort to your Mother.

Pets are important and a way of life. Baker Medical Research in Australia did a three year study on the effects of pets on human wellbeing. The study concluded that persons with pets had lower blood pressure, lower triglyercides, and lower chloresterol than those without pets. The difference could not be accounted for because of diet, weight, smoking, or other socio-economic factors.

Good luck as you deal with your Mother and Angel’s adoption. You might send me a picture.

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Send your questions to Ask Carolyn through our website, on social media, by email at, or mail them to P.O. Box 9023, Greensboro, NC 27427. Please do not put identifying information in your questions.

Note that the answers in “Ask Carolyn” are intended to provide general legal information, and the answers are not specific legal advice for your situation.  The column also uses hypothetical questions.  A subtle fact in your unique case may determine the legal advice you need in your unique case.  Also, please note that you are not creating an attorney-client relationship with Carolyn J. Woodruff by writing or having your question answered by “Ask Carolyn.”

This blog is a revised excerpt from Ask Carolyn, available on kindle. 

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