Tina, an 11-year-old chihuahua, was standing guard when the ambulance arrived to remove the body of an older New York City resident. Emergency service workers took Tina to the shelter. Tina was walked by a volunteer dog walker. When she heard that Tina was in NY, she contacted Pets are wonderful support.

The owner ofTina was a client of NY PAWS, a nonprofit that provides services to vulnerable New Yorkers who need support caring for their pets. She has been a client of ours for seven years.

When a pet owner dies, move into a nursing home that doesn't allow pets, or become too ill to care for their pets, we step in. We have built a relationship with them and their pets.

Animal Care Centers of NYC is the city's animal shelter.

They know that we can take the pet out of the shelter and place the animal in foster care until we find a home.

Knowing the pet's owner allows the organization to place the pet in an appropriate home. Tina needed to be in a household with no other dogs, cats or kids.

Like Tina, Ruby was a solo pet. When her owner moved into a nursing home, she found a new home through PAWS NY.

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Have a plan in place to care for your pet

The family member of Ruby's owner contacted the organization to clean the litter box, feed and care for the dog four times a week.

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When Ruby's owner moved into a nursing home, we were able to take her. We found a permanent home for her after she was fostered.

The stories of Tina and Ruby have happy endings.

It is recommended that you have an advance directive or living will for your pets.

Before you get sick and can't care for your pets, talk to your family about the type of care you want. It's the best thing you can do for them.

Pet Peace of Mind does not charge for its services. They find homes for many animals. A man in his 70s with three horses wanted to die at his Idaho ranch. Pet Peace of Mind stepped in with food, hay, and volunteers when his cancer progressed and he couldn't care for his horses. The horses were re home after the man died.

Finding the right home for a pet can be difficult. Try to find a new home for a snake.

Not everyone wants to care for one. People worry about leaving their pets behind. I have seen people hang on and pass peacefully when they know their pet is well cared for.

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Find the right caretaker for your pet

Ask your adult children. People living in different states and having pets might not be the best choice.

Vicki Stevens is the director of program management and communications for companion animals with the Humane Society of the United States. We wanted to keep the dogs together because they were bonding. His 10-year-old cat ended up living with the person who took care of my father-in-law.

Stevens took the dogs until she found a permanent home.

Stevens said to have more than one person at the ready to care for your pets if and when the time comes.

Pets in senior living facilities

There is a misconception that senior living, independent living and nursing homes don't allow pets. If there are breed or weight restrictions, ask. When you can't care for your pet, ask them what happens.

Dogs can teach us about life and death.

Eight points to consider when making plans for your pet

As you put together a plan to find a home for your pet, make sure to consider the following eight points.

  1. When you are of sound mind, ask family members and close friends if they’ll care for your pets when you no longer can. Check back with them because plans change. Your pet’s potential caretaker may no longer be able to care for your pet.
  2. While you’re healthy, set up a pet trust and share it with your pet’s potential caretakers.
  3. If you adopted from an animal shelter or rescue, call and ask them if they’ll take the pet back when you can no longer care for your pet. Better yet, ask about their return policies when you adopt. Best Friends Animal Society has a lifetime commitment to pets they adopted out.
  4. Keep bonded pets together. It’s less stressful for your pets.
  5. Share a list of your pet’s diet, favorite treats, walking schedule, health history, medications and the phone number of your pet’s veterinarian with potential caretakers.
  6. Tell a neighbor about your plans. In the event of an emergency, a neighbor should know whom to contact about your pets.
  7. Carry a wallet alert card that lists the names and phone numbers of your emergency pet caregivers.
  8. Post the names and phone numbers of your emergency pet caregivers on your refrigerator. Most emergency service workers know to look there or on the inside of your front door. This way, your pets won’t wind up in a city shelter. This list should also contain the names, ages, types of pets and numbers of pets in your home.

A writer, editor, and ghostwriter specializing in health, climate, social justice, pets and travel. michelechollow can be followed on the social networking site, at her account.

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