Have You Planned for Your Pet's Future if Something Should Happen to You? If the Answer is No, a New ASPCA Survey Finds You're Not Alone

Survey shines light on the need to educate pet guardians on planning for their pets
January 16, 2013

NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today released the findings from a recent poll of more than 1,000 pet guardians across the country, which has uncovered new data on people planning for their pets' futures in the event that the human caretaker dies. The survey shows that while most do some planning, few pet parents take the necessary steps recognized by law to ensure their pets are taken care of when they pass away.

The study involved a randomized telephone survey of 1,000 dog or cat guardians to find out if they have a plan in place for their pet should something happen to them, and if so what the plan is. Of the pet guardians surveyed:

  • Only 17 percent have taken legal action (a will, a trust fund, or some other legal document) to plan for the care of any of their pets should they die.
  • Dog owners are more likely to take legal steps to plan for their dogs (17 percent) than cat owners are to plan for their cats (11 percent).
  • Even pet owners who have taken legal steps to plan for their own death in general have not necessarily included their pets in that planning.  Of those who have completed a will for themselves (42 percent of cat or dog owners), only 18 percent have included their pets in that will.
  • The most common form of estate planning for the care of pets is speaking to a friend or family member about caring for a pet (53 percent of dog or cat owners have done so), followed by creating a pet portfolio containing the information needed for someone else to care for a pet (39 percent have created one).

The survey underscores the need for the ASPCA's recent collaboration with LegalZoom to raise awareness of the Pet Protection Agreement®, which allows pet owners to establish continuing care for all of their animals when they are not able to care for them. Created by animal law attorney Rachel Hirschfeld, the Pet Protection Agreement allows pet parents to appoint a guardian for their pets, as well as set aside funds to ensure that their pets receive the same standard of care to which they're accustomed. As part of the partnership, LegalZoom will donate 10-15 percent of the purchase price of each Pet Protection Agreement® to the ASPCA through June 2014 to support its national programs.

"Millions of companion animals are surrendered to shelters each year, some because their owners did not establish continuing care for their animals in the event that they were unable to do so," says Kim Bressant-Kibwe, trusts and estates counsel for the ASPCA. "This study offers evidence of the problem that we suspected – pet parents need to begin to plan for their pets' long-term well-being."