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Left in the lurch: Pets left unwanted when their owners die, says RSPCA

NEW RESEARCH from the RSPCA suggests that around 70,000 pet owners die each year without making arrangements for their pets in their Wills. With less than half of Brits happy to take on an animal if a friend or relative died, the RSPCA warns that thousands of pets could be left unwanted, uncared for and even homeless.

To tackle this problem, the RSPCA has launched a free service that aims to look after pets that are left unwanted when their owners pass away.

The service called Home for Life cares for pets at an RSPCA Animal Centre before a suitable new owner can be found. All pet owners need to do is add a clause to their Will instructing that care of their pets is handed over to the RSPCA when they die.

David Grant, RSPCA vet, says: ‘Pets can be an important companion to older people, in fact our research reveals that the over-60s rate them as a more important part of their lives than their friends. Yet we still see worrying evidence that people are not securing their pet’s future well-being by making the appropriate arrangements in their Wills.

‘In many cases, family members are well placed to look after these pets, but some pet owners might not consider the emotional and financial burden that unwanted pets can place on the recently bereaved. These pressures are not just to the detriment of the new owners, but can often result in suffering for the pet itself.’

Over 90,000 pet owners die before their pets each year, with many people simply not considering that their pets might outlive them. While cats generally live up to 16 years old, some pets are even more likely to outlive older owners. Macaws can live for a staggering 80 years and cockatoos are not far behind with a life expectancy of 70.

TV personality Des Lynam, who supports the RSPCA’s Home for Life, states that ‘Rehoming pets is a vitally important part of the work that the RSPCA does. Pets from all walks of life deserve owners who will look after them and give them the necessary care, attention and love. Thanks to the RSPCA, pets should continue to enjoy a good home, even after their owners die.’
* To find out more about Home for Life, please call the RSPCA on 0800 432 0880 or visit www.homeforlife.org.uk