Advance Directive

What Will Happen To Your Pet When Something Happens To You?

Just like people have living wills or advance directives, so should your pet. What if you become deceased? Who is assigned to look after your pet? Who will be notified to care for them? Or what happens if you are on vacation and your pet is in an accident? Is there information on file with the vet to provide emergency care? Who is authorized to act on your behalf?

A living will is a more limited type of advance directive. With a living will, you only make decisions about life sustaining procedures should your pet suffer an emergency that is terminal despite attempts to resuscitate or if the pet suffers a vegetative state. It's a document that lets you state what type of medical treatment you do or do not wish your pet to receive in the event that you are not present for any reason.

An advance directive provides you with many more options, including the naming of a health care agent. You make the same decisions about life sustaining procedures as in the living will. With an advance directive, you can give your agent the authority to oversee the wishes you've set out in your pet's health care declaration, as well as the power to make other necessary decisions about health care matters that are not outlined or covered. This agent will act on your behalf should you not be able to personally be present, you are incapacitated or deceased.

What Details And Information Do I Include?

  • Emergency contact
  • Credit card information
  • Authorized amount for medical care
  • Veterinary contact
  • Health care agent
  • Medical records
  • Radiography (X-Rays etc.)
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Vaccination records

By including your pet's medical records, it allows the veterinarian to quickly understand the health status. This is especially important if your pet has a complex history or ongoing disease process.

Who Should Have a Copy?

  • Family
  • Veterinarian
  • Emergency Veterinarian
  • Pet Sitter
  • Doggy Daycare
  • Friends

Keep a copy with your attorney, should you have one assigned. And with today's technology, consider creating an electronic file that is accessible on a shared platform. You can then assign access to every party you desire without the need for a hard copy. And update the information yearly or when anything changes to keep details current.

List Of Resuscitation Orders:

  • Placed on a ventilator under anesthesia
  • Placed on a respirator under anesthesia
  • Be incubated
  • Have CPR performed
  • Placed on a temporary feeding tube
  • Receive blood transfusions
  • Have emergency surgery performed
  • Receive certain life-sustaining drugs
  • Authorize humane euthanasia

If the prognosis is poor or the pet is in significant, life-threatening pain that cannot be medically managed, it's important to include the euthanasia authorization and after care wishes.

What If My Pet Outlives Me?

Do you want your pet placed with a family member or a friend? What if you are alone and perhaps have no living relatives, do you place your pet with a specific animal rescue organization or a communal shelter to be re-homed? And whether you have selected burial or cremation for yourself, do you want your pet euthanized and included in your own funeral arrangements?

These are important details to consider and often overlooked. The goal is to create the least amount of confusion and stress for both people and your pet when you are no longer present. Take control of your wishes and ensure that they are carried out to your specifics. Create an advance directive, both for yourself and your beloved pet.

Who Can Help Me Create An Advance Directive For My Pet?

If you already have consulted with an attorney for your personal living will or advance directive, he or she can easily create the same document for your pet with the appropriate information. You may also search the web for standard forms, some are more detailed than others. Be sure to check that all your wishes are covered and ensure the validity of the documents. And if you have any specific questions about any legal matter you should always consult your attorney or other professional legal services provider.