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Planning Your Chihuahua’s Future After You Have Passed

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This topic came to me after a reader wrote me and was worried about what would happen to her Chihuahua if she passed away first. She didn’t have family or friends to take her chi for her.

Tan and white Chihuahua puppy on lap.

This is a subject I have thought about myself. I’m no spring chicken in my 60’s. And in ’22 and ’23 I was dealing with a very aggressive cancer that could have easily killed me. So I too worried about who would take my pets if I died.

At the time I had 6 sugar gliders (down to 2 now) and 4 dogs. I did make arrangements for some family members and some friends to take my fur babies. The sugar gliders would go back to my friend who I got them from. She was a breeder and still has about 8 suggies I believe. The dogs would have to be separated but they would all have loving homes. So that was a relief.

But what do people do who can’t find anyone to take their dog (or other pets)? I did some research and wrote this post for how to plan out what happens to your pets if you should pass first and also what are your options if no family member or friend will take them for you.

Find a Caregiver

Family and Friends

This is obvious but talk to the family members and friends who you know like animals and are trusted. See if they would be willing to take care of your pup.

Do make sure they know what they are signing up for and understand the needs of a Chihuahua.

Backup Caregivers

If possible, have a backup option in case the primary caregiver is unable to fulfill their responsibility

Young female lawyer showing a paper to older man.

Create a Pet Trust

Set up a pet trust where funds are specifically set aside for your dog’s care. This ensures that money is available for their needs and the caregiver is legally bound to use it for the dog.

Appoint a Trustee

Designate a person who will oversee the use of funds and make sure your dog is well cared for.

Include Your Pet in Your Will

Instructions in Your Will

Clearly state in your will who will take care of your chihuahua and/or any other pets and any specific instructions for their care.

Consult with a lawyer to make sure your wishes are legally binding and are clear.

Write a Care Plan

Detailed Care Instructions

Provide a written care plan that includes info about your dog including their diet, medical history, exercise routine, things they like and don’t like and any other information you think they should know.

Vet Information

Include the contact info for your vet.

Consider a Pet Protection Agreement

Formal Agreement

Draft an agreement with the chosen caregiver detailing the responsibilities and care requirements for your dog.

Discuss with Your Vet

Speak with your vet about your plans. They may have additional suggestions and can be a resource for your dog’s future caregiver.

What to Do If You Don’t Have Anyone to Take Your Pet

Young woman outside with small dogs.

Animal Welfare Organizations

Contact Shelters or Rescues

Reach out to local animal shelters or rescue groups that may have programs for rehoming pets when their owners pass away.

No-Kill Shelters

Look for no-kill shelters that can provide a safe place for your dog until they find a new home.

Breed-Specific Rescues

Chihuahua Rescues

Many breed-specific rescues focus on rehoming particular breeds. Contact chihuahua rescues to see if they can help.

Pet Retirement Homes

Some organizations provide long-term care for pets whose owners have died. These pet retirement homes ensure that animals live out their lives in a safe and loving environment.

I know the next question is “How do I find a retirement home for my dog?” so keep reading!

How to Find Pet Retirement Homes

Use search terms like “pet retirement homes,” “pet sanctuaries,” or “long-term pet care facilities.” Be sure to include your location to find nearby options.

Veterinarian Recommendations

Veterinarians often have a network of contacts and can recommend reputable pet retirement homes or sanctuaries.

Animal Welfare Organizations

Local Shelters and Rescues

Contact local animal shelters, rescue organizations, and humane societies. They may have information on pet retirement homes or can guide you to resources.

National Organizations

Groups like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) or the American Humane Association may have resources or contacts for pet retirement homes.

Social Media and Online Communities

Facebook Groups: Join pet-related groups and forums on Facebook or other social media platforms. Members often share resources and recommendations.

Reddit: Subreddits like r/dogs or r/Chihuahua may have users who can recommend pet retirement homes.

Word of Mouth

Talk to other pet owners in your community. Sometimes word of mouth can lead you to hidden gems that are not widely advertised.

Blond woman holding multiple leashes with a lot of Chihuahuas outside.
portrait of a woman and a large group of chihuahuas

Pet Retirement and Sanctuary Organizations

I did some research to get you started and here are some sanctuaries to check into:

Marty’s Place

Best Friends Animal Society

House with a Heart Senior Pet Sanctuary

  • Location: Gaithersburg, Maryland
  • Services: Provides a loving home for senior dogs and cats, offering medical care and a family-like environment.
  • Website: House with a Heart

Muttville Senior Dog Rescue

  • San Francisco, California
  • Rescues senior dogs and finds them loving homes or provides sanctuary care for those who are harder to place.
  • Website: Muttville Senior Dog Rescue

Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary

  • Location: Mount Juliet, Tennessee
  • Services: Provides a forever foster home for senior dogs, ensuring they receive the love and care they need in their golden years.
  • Website: Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary

Little Old Dog Sanctuary

  • Location: Arlington, Texas
  • Services: Focuses on rescuing and providing sanctuary for senior dogs, offering medical care and a peaceful home.
  • Website: Little Old Dog Sanctuary

Senior Dog Sanctuary of Maryland

  • Location: Severn, Maryland
  • Services: Dedicated to rescuing and providing a safe haven for senior dogs, including those with special needs.
  • Website: Senior Dog Sanctuary of Maryland

Dogwood Animal Rescue Project

  • Location: Chesterfield, South Carolina
  • Services: Focuses on rescuing and providing sanctuary for senior and special needs dogs.
  • Website: Dogwood Animal Rescue Project

The Dog House and Kitty City

  • Location: Largo, Florida
  • Services: Provides a sanctuary for dogs and cats in need of permanent homes, specializing in senior pets.
  • Website: The Dog House and Kitty City

The Animal Pad

  • Location: San Diego, California
  • Services: Focuses on rescuing dogs from high-kill shelters and providing them with medical care and a forever home.
  • Website: The Animal Pad

Rusty’s Rescue Ranch

  • Location: Various locations, primarily in the Midwest and East Coast
  • Services: Dedicated to rescuing dogs from high-kill shelters and providing them with sanctuary and care.
  • Website: Rusty’s Rescue Ranch

Peace of Mind Dog Rescue

  • Location: Various locations in California
  • Services: Focuses on providing homes and care for senior dogs, particularly those whose owners have passed away.
  • Website: Peace of Mind Dog Rescue

Saving Grace Pet Adoption and Sanctuary

The Grey Muzzle Organization

  • Location: Nationwide
  • Services: Provides grants to shelters and rescues to support senior dogs. They also partner with organizations that offer sanctuary and long-term care.
  • Website: The Grey Muzzle Organization

Sanctuary One

  • Location: Jacksonville, Oregon
  • Services: Offers a care farm that provides sanctuary for dogs and other animals, promoting animal welfare and humane education.
  • Website: Sanctuary One

Daisy’s Place Retriever Rescue

  • Location: Charleston, South Carolina
  • Services: Specializes in rescuing senior retrievers and other dogs, providing them with a safe and loving home.
  • Website: Daisy’s Place Retriever Rescue

Pepper’s Senior Dog Sanctuary

  • Location: Portland, Oregon
  • Services: Provides a loving home for senior dogs, ensuring they receive the care and attention they need in their later years.
  • Website: Pepper’s Senior Dog Sanctuary

Monkey’s House Dog Hospice and Sanctuary

  • Location: Burlington County, New Jersey
  • Services: Focuses on providing hospice care and sanctuary for terminally ill and senior dogs, offering them love and comfort in their final days.
  • Website: Monkey’s House

The Senior Dog Sanctuary of Georgia

  • Location: Dallas, Georgia
  • Services: Dedicated to rescuing and providing a permanent home for senior dogs, ensuring they receive medical care and affection.
  • Website: The Senior Dog Sanctuary of Georgia

The Shadow Fund

  • Location: Brooklyn, New York
  • Services: Focuses on senior and terminally ill dogs, providing sanctuary care and medical support.
  • Website: The Shadow Fund

Silver Muzzle Cottage Rescue and Hospice

  • Location: Rapid City, Michigan
  • Services: Provides rescue and hospice care for senior dogs, ensuring they receive compassionate end-of-life care.
  • Website: Silver Muzzle Cottage
Older woman holding chihuahua.

What Other Pet Owners are Doing

I asked in my newsletter if anyone else had made plans about this and got a few responses back:

It is my hope that every person who is fortunate enough to have companion fur babies, is able to find a loving person for “just in case”. Here is what we did.

When my spouse and I made pre-need arrangements (my cremation info card is right behind my driver’s license in my wallet), we contacted local no kill shelters and they said they would be a last resort if we couldn’t find anyone else in case we passed while Shadow was still with us. Our vet was also a good resource person. Eventually, we each found three people whom we contacted and arranged for Shadow’s care just in case.

Chihuahuas rule! 🐾

In my will, I have a clause for the person who inherits whatever is left of my estate after I depart, that they must take care of what ever dog(s) are left in the manner that they are accustomed to, (living in house, vet care, good food, and mostly love), that outlive me in order to inherit. My friends are all dog people and know my little sweetheart and how she is treated by me. I don’t have a great deal to inherit but enough to make it worth their while. (And I have money set aside for veterinarian visits, food etc.). As I am 70 now, no children or family, you can imagine how much my dog(s) mean to me. I’m not planning on going anywhere soon butcha never know what the day may bring and I want my beloved furchild taken care of. Hope this helps with your question.

All the best,
Twinkle’s Mom

I hope this article has given you a starting point for your plan on what to do if you pass before your fur baby does.

One of our readers told me that se lives in Florida and because there are so many elderly people there, the shelters are overflowing with their pets when they pass and haven’t planned on who will take their pets. I think many people just assume their kids or other family members will take care of them but sadly, that’s often not the case.

That just breaks my heart. I don’t want to leave this world and abandon my fur babies. It’s our responsibility to take care of them all of their lives, not just all of our lives.

Cathy signature with cartoon chihuahua
blond woman holding white chihuahua

Cathy Bendzunas

Pet Blogger

I have had dogs all my life. I have been a pet groomer, worked in a pet hotel, and a kennel, and have bred and showed dogs.