What Happens to Your Best Friend After You’re Gone?

By Dave DeLuca

pet_promise_program2“End-of-life planning” might be the worst phrase in the English language. It combines a reminder of our own mortality with the threat of the one thing we despise more than death itself: paperwork. But in this case, at least there’s a warm and fuzzy angle.

When we die, our most loyal family members sometimes fall through the cracks. What happens to pets when their owners pass away? If friends and family are unable to adopt left-behind pets, they may become the property of local animal control. The OSU Foundation and Oregon Humane Society (OHS) think there should be a better way. They are preparing to launch a program that will address the needs of animals who outlive their owners. The Pet Promise program will allow owners to pre-designate the Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine as the advocate for their four-legged kids. 

After an enrolled pet owner passes, the medical needs of their animals will be attended to by the veterinary college. Then, the pets will be transferred to the Oregon Humane Society in Portland. The 140 full-time employees and 2,000 or so volunteers at OHS will then go to work finding the furry friends new homes. Located in Portland, the Oregon Humane Society is the largest shelter in the Northwest, and adopts out more animals than any other single-facility shelter on the West Coast.

Participating humans will be able to enroll their pets by donating $25,000 up front or by a bequest of $50,000 in their wills. Not only will those financial gifts support the Pet Promise program, but the College of Veterinary Medicine as well. The college’s mission is to improve the quality of life for animals. They fulfill the lofty goal through educating the next generation of vets, conducting research, and supporting animal welfare agencies. It’s a good plan and a great cause.

For more information, contact Kelley Marchbanks at the OSU Foundation at 1-800-354-7281.