10 Things to Do With a Dog if the Owner Dies

First off, if you’re close enough with some to deal with their dog after they’ve passed, my condolences to you and your Family.

Losing a pet owner can be a challenging and emotional time for the dog, as well as for those involved in the decision-making process regarding the dog’s future.

Here are ten possible actions to consider when a dog’s owner passes away:

1. Contact Family Members

This is a crucial step because family members may have a bond with the dog or feel a sense of responsibility to care for the pet as part of their loved one’s legacy.

Do’s and Don’t Of Rehoming a Dog With Family

  • Emotional Support: Taking in the dog can offer comfort to the family, maintaining a living connection to the deceased.
  • Assess Practicality: Ensure family members have the resources, time, and space to care for the dog.
  • Consider the Dog’s Needs: Check if the family’s living environment and lifestyle suit the dog’s needs, especially for elderly or special needs dogs.
  • Legal Implications: Respect the owner’s wishes if the will specifies a caretaker for the dog.
  • Long-Term Commitment: Family members should be prepared for the responsibilities of pet ownership, including health care and emotional bonding.

2. Seek a New Home

Tips for Helping Someone Rehome a Dog:

  1. Assess the Dog’s Needs: Understand the dog’s temperament, health condition, and any special needs to find a suitable match.
  2. Spread the Word: Use social media, community boards, and word of mouth to reach potential adopters.
  3. Screen Potential Adopters: Conduct interviews or home visits to ensure the new home is safe and compatible with the dog’s needs.
  4. Prepare a Care Package: Include the dog’s medical records, favorite toys, and a guide on their routine and preferences to ease the transition.
  5. Follow-Up: After rehoming, check in to ensure the dog is adjusting well and the new owners are managing comfortably.

3. Use Social Media

How to Use Social Media to Give the Dog a Great Home

  1. Create an Engaging Post: Craft a detailed and heartfelt post about the dog. Include high-quality photos, a description of the dog’s personality, size, age, and any special needs or preferences. Highlight positive traits and why the dog makes a good companion.
  2. Use Multiple Platforms: Share the post across various social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and community forums. Each platform has different audiences, increasing the chances of finding a suitable home.
  3. Leverage Community Groups: Join and post in local community groups, pet adoption groups, and breed-specific groups on social media. Members of these groups are often passionate about animals and can help spread the word.
  4. Screen Responses Carefully: When you receive responses, screen them carefully. Ask potential adopters about their experience with dogs, their living situation, and their plan for caring for the pet.
  5. Update Regularly: Keep your post updated with any new information or changes. Respond promptly to inquiries and questions to keep potential adopters engaged and informed about the dog’s status.

4. Contact a Rescue Organization

How to Pick and Prep the Dog

  1. Research Rescue Organizations: Look for reputable rescue groups, especially those that specialize in the dog’s breed or have experience with similar cases. Check their policies, success rates, and reviews from previous adopters.
  2. Prepare Dog’s Information: Gather all relevant information about the dog, including medical records, behavioral traits, likes, dislikes, and any special care requirements. This information will help the rescue assess the dog and find a suitable home.
  3. Contact Multiple Rescues: Reach out to several organizations to increase the chances of finding the right one. Be honest and detailed about the dog’s situation and why rehoming is necessary.
  4. Be Transparent About Health and Behavior: Disclose any health issues, behavioral challenges, or special needs the dog may have. Full transparency is crucial for the rescue to provide the best care and find the most suitable home.
  5. Follow Their Process and Stay Involved: Respect the rescue organization’s rehoming process, which may include interviews, home checks, and a trial period. Stay involved where appropriate to ensure a smooth transition for the dog.

5. Utilize a Pet Rehoming Service

Tips For Finding and Using a Rehoming Service

  1. Research Rehoming Services: Investigate various pet rehoming services, focusing on their credibility, success rates, and reviews from previous clients. Choose a service that aligns with your needs and has a good track record.
  2. Prepare Comprehensive Pet Profile: Compile a detailed profile of the dog, including age, breed, health history, temperament, likes, dislikes, and any special care needs. This information is crucial for the service to match the dog with the right home.
  3. Discuss Rehoming Fees and Procedures: Understand any fees involved and the specific procedures the service follows for rehoming pets. Some services may have policies regarding veterinary checks, trial periods, or post-adoption follow-ups.
  4. Be Transparent About the Dog’s Needs: Clearly communicate any behavioral issues, medical conditions, or special requirements the dog has. Honesty ensures the rehoming service can find the most suitable and prepared adopter.
  5. Stay Engaged in the Process: While the service will handle most aspects of rehoming, remain involved and responsive to inquiries or updates. Your input and cooperation can be essential in making the rehoming process efficient and successful.

6. Consult the Veterinarian

Tips For Consulting With the Vet (Make Sure It’s the Dogs Regular Vet)

  1. Ask for Referrals: Veterinarians may know other clients or pet lovers who are interested in adopting or fostering a dog. They can act as a bridge to potential new owners.
  2. Utilize Veterinary Networks: Vets often have connections with local rescue groups, shelters, and pet adoption agencies and can refer you to these resources.
  3. Seek Behavior and Health Advice: If the dog has any health or behavioral issues, ask the vet for advice on how to best convey this information to potential adopters, ensuring the dog’s needs are clearly understood and met.
  4. Discuss the Dog’s Needs: Talk about the type of home and care the dog requires. The vet’s understanding of the dog’s medical and emotional needs can guide you in finding the most suitable environment.

7. Foster Care

How to Arrange Foster Care

  1. Contact Local Animal Shelters and Rescues: Many animal shelters and rescue organizations have foster programs. Reach out to them to see if they can place the dog in a foster home.
  2. Use Social Networks: Share the dog’s story on social media and community networks to find a temporary foster home among people who already know the dog or are experienced with fostering.
  3. Provide Complete Information: When seeking a foster arrangement, provide detailed information about the dog’s health, behavior, and needs to ensure they are placed in a suitable foster home.
  4. Discuss Responsibilities and Expectations: Clearly communicate with the foster caregiver about who is responsible for expenses like food, veterinary care, and any other supplies the dog might need.
  5. Prepare a Foster Agreement: If possible, create a foster agreement outlining the terms of the foster care, including the duration, care expectations, and any financial arrangements.
  6. Maintain Communication: Keep in touch with the foster caregiver to monitor the dog’s wellbeing and provide any necessary support or advice during the fostering period.

8. Check for a Will or Trust:

Tips for Checking a Will or Trust:

  1. Consult the Deceased’s Attorney: Contact the attorney who managed the deceased’s legal affairs. They can confirm whether there’s a will or trust mentioning the dog.
  2. Review the Will or Trust Details: If the dog is mentioned, review the specific instructions or financial provisions made for their care.
  3. Identify the Designated Caretaker: The will or trust may name a specific person to take over the care of the dog. Reach out to this individual to discuss the arrangements.
  4. Understand Financial Arrangements: If there are financial provisions for the dog’s care, understand how these funds are to be accessed and used.
  5. Legal Obligations and Rights: Be aware of any legal obligations or rights regarding the dog’s care that are outlined in the will or trust.
  6. Plan for Absence of Provisions: If the will or trust doesn’t mention the dog, consider the deceased’s verbal wishes or discuss with family members to determine the best course of action for the dog’s rehoming.

9. Consider a Senior Dog Sanctuary

Example: Open Door Sanctuary

Tips for Considering a Senior Dog Sanctuary:

  1. Research Sanctuaries: Look for sanctuaries that specialize in senior dogs. Check their reputation, facilities, care standards, and feedback from other pet owners.
  2. Assess the Dog’s Suitability: Ensure the sanctuary is a good fit for the dog’s specific needs, especially if the dog has health issues or special requirements typical of older pets.
  3. Visit the Sanctuary: If possible, visit the sanctuary to assess the living conditions, the care provided, and the overall atmosphere. This can help in deciding if it’s the right place for the dog.
  4. Discuss the Transition Process: Talk to the sanctuary staff about how they manage the transition for new dogs. A gradual introduction can help in reducing stress for the dog.
  5. Inquire About Ongoing Communication: Check if the sanctuary allows for periodic updates or visits to the dog. Knowing the dog is well-cared for can provide peace of mind to those involved in the rehoming process.
  6. Consider Financial Arrangements: Some sanctuaries may require a donation or have specific financial requirements for the care of the dog. Understand these costs and any ongoing financial commitments.

10. Animal Shelter as a Last Resort

These organizations can provide care and work to find a new home for the dog.

Tips for Surrendering to an Animal Shelter:

  1. Research Reputable Shelters: Look for well-established, reputable shelters known for good care and successful adoption rates. Check reviews or ask for recommendations.
  2. Visit the Shelter: If possible, visit the shelter to assess the environment and the care they provide to the animals. This can give you a sense of how the dog will be treated.
  3. Provide Detailed Information: Share as much information as possible about the dog, including medical history, temperament, likes, dislikes, and any special needs, to assist the shelter in finding the right home.
  4. Discuss the Surrender Process: Understand the shelter’s procedures for surrendering a pet, including any paperwork, fees, or other requirements.
  5. Inquire About Adoption Policies: Ask about the shelter’s policies for adoption, including how they screen potential adopters and the process for matching pets with homes.
  6. Follow Up: After surrendering the dog, you can check in with the shelter to see how the dog is doing and if they have been adopted. Some shelters allow previous owners or involved parties to remain updated on the dog’s status.