With between 150-170 million cats and dogs being owned in the US alone, it's fair to say that as humans we love having a pet nearby. We love having a companion, a reason to go for a walk twice a day and someone by our side that doesn't judge during the hard times. However, it is also fair to say that we aren't the best at keeping our documents in line and this is something I have heard a lot about recently; for this reason, I have decided to give a list of important documents that all pet owners should have.
Proof of Ownership - Although this may not be something you want to think about as it 'will never happen to me', a proof of ownership for a pet is a good idea just in case you and your partner separate or divorce. In the eyes of the law pets are simply seen as possessions, if there is no clear owner and you both want to keep your furry friend, there could be a long and messy custody battle ahead. There has been many cases in the past where someone who has cared for a pet for many years lost just because there was no proof of ownership and it suddenly becomes an emotional tool in the court case.
Since half of all marriages today end in divorce, this is definitely something worth looking into. An AKC registration counts as proof of ownership as does anything formal that has legal value.
Record of Vaccinations - You may say 'well, my vet keeps all this information so why should I as well?' but they can be very important. For example, if you want to check into a pet-friendly hotel, they will more than likely want to see the vaccination records. Similarly, if you were planning on visiting an event for pets, again, your pet's vaccination records may be required.
Emotional Support Animal Letter - This may not apply to everyone but can still be very important if you plan to keep a pet in an apartment or rented house that has a 'no pet policy'. There are certain pets that can be kept in a home and even taken on-board a flight if they are providing treatment in some way as long as a letter is issued by a mental health professional.
An emotional support animal letter should be printed as an official document that includes a letterhead and should include information regarding your mental state, how the pet helps as part of the treatment as well as details of the health professional's licence. As long as it has been received in the last year, your pet will also be allowed on your flights too.
Rabies Waiver/Certificate - The amount of time between rabies vaccinations generally varies from one state to the next so you should check to see how the rules apply to you but nevertheless it is an important document to be kept safe. The document should include details on the age of your pet, vaccination date, vaccination batch number, date of next vaccination, signature of your vet and much more.
There may also be medical reasons that mean that your pet doesn't require a rabies vaccination and this waiver is equally important. These rules aren't widespread just yet but more and more states are agreeing that pets shouldn't have to have a rabies vaccination with certain medical conditions, this is ultimately decided by the vet who looks into the safety of the pet as well as the safety of others.
Whether a certificate or waiver, it should be kept safe as it is required for a 'pet passport' among other things. If you have no record of when your pet was last vaccinated for rabies, it will not be able to travel with you.
Legal Trust - Again, this is something that we don't necessarily want to think about at any age but you need to discuss what will happen to your pet if you were to pass away. Many people fall into the mistake of thinking that a will provides all the protection needed but this simply isn't the case. In truth, there are too many loopholes in a will which could mean that your pet doesn't go where you want it to after you die.
Consequently, a trust should be considered as this will ensure that your pet goes to where you want, gets cared for by who you want and has funds available for its care. Trust's are more secure than a will and provide you with more security which will leave you safe in the knowledge that you have a plan to be put in motion should you pass away.
Another common error is that 'a verbal agreement is pretty much the same thing'; a verbal agreement provides no security whatsoever and will not hold up if it comes to a court case. The best course of action is to make the plan official to ensure that your pet will go somewhere it will be cared for.
All these documents may sound like a bit of hassle but there is no better feeling than knowing that you have everything in place for your dog to have a happy and joy-filled life.