Legalizing Guardianship and Making Sure your Pet Gets Home when Traveling!

 

Oh, how we dislike thinking about our own disasters or death, but it really is the smart thing to do. It’s also the kindest thing we can do for those who love us and would have to take care of things should something awful happen.

And all of this planning is especially important because the bipeds have a dependent: Me!

We know who my guardian is should the unthinkable happen. We talked to her. She thought long and hard about it. And accepted.

It was no small decision. There were many people who offered to be my guardian, but not everyone was a good fit. Why?

My Guardian a.k.a. Sister Mom and me hanging out during Mom’s 40th!

First of all we had to make sure there was a mutual love. And there are no worries there: I LOVE my guardian! I make siren noises of happiness when we go to visit!

We also wanted to make sure that my guardian would continue my care in the way I am accustomed to living – from what I eat (human food) to how I get my health care, and ensuring I get the type of attention and exercise I’m used to. My guardian is on the same page with all that!

Where things do get tricky is with this: what happens if something goes terribly wrong while we’re travelling and I’m stranded overseas?  This is where a lot of people who might have been a good choice suddenly no longer were.

We needed a person who could jump to action and handle that kind of stress. A person who would always have an up-to-date passport. A person that has traveled. We needed a person who could and would make the time.  We wanted a person we could trust to – absolutely, positively – rescue me.

My Brother from Another Mother: Jack!

And we found her. And she accepted. And we are so very, very grateful. This was a huge responsibility to ask of someone and we are very glad to have found a person not only willing to do this, but who will also do so with all the love and care in the world. I am a lucky boy! She is my sister-mom.  And I feel blessed. (She says the honour is really hers, that the bipeds trust her so much. I guess that makes us even in feeling blessed!)

Because I travel, giving my guardian the necessary legal rights to take care of me is really, really important. Legal paperwork sucks, but this kind is essential.

This is what the papers cover:

  • The papers name my guardian clearly and legally. They also include all the information about how to contact my guardian.
  • The papers also state how to release funds to my guardian so she can fly to wherever in the world I may be to bring me home.
  • The papers also clearly transfer ownership (or temporary guardianship if the bipeds are seriously injured) of me to my guardian so she can return with me to Canada and take me through Customs.
  • And, the papers make arrangements for funds to be set aside out of the bipeds’ estate for my care for the rest of my life.

What we do to help my guardian:

  • Before we travel, we give my guardian our detailed itinerary. We also give her the name of every hotel with phone number, address and email.  If we are renting an apartment, we give our guardian the “landlord’s” contact information.
  • We provide my guardian with copies of all the travel documents for the trip. She will need them to re-enter Canada. This includes the international health certificate.
  • In addition, we give our guardian’s contact information (name and email) to the hotel or landlord in case they need to let my guardian know something has happened. If people spoke my language, I could give them this information myself. But, alas, my cuteness doesn’t make me more understandable and, in fact, puts me at great risk of being dog-napped or mistakenly taken as lost or stray.
  • If we change our plans, we do all we can to send our guardian that information. It can be a quick text message, a FB message – anything – but we let her know where we are every single day. We tell her what airport we’re at; train, boat or plane we’re taking; and any town, city, village or island we are visiting … any information my guardian might need if she had to come and fetch me.
  • We also carry my guardian’s information on us everywhere we go – in both English and translated into the local language if needed. The translation is really important: you can’t expect the locals to speak your language.  Most people mean well and want to help, but you have to give them the ability to do so.
  • We make sure that her name appears as “an owner” on the papers needed for me to return to Canada.

My microchip and ID:

My microchip does not have just my information on it; it also has my emergency contacts. And that includes my guardian’s name, email and phone number. My microchip also includes my insurance information which includes a reward for returning me to my owners or guardian.

This is a tricky bit of paperwork, but you can coordinate this between your vet and your pet insurance company to ensure the information is on file and accessible with the microchip number.

Don’t forget to watch the video link in the blog!

Here’s one more option: blanketID. Microchips are so very, very important but the problem with microchips is that you need a scanner to read the information and the average person on the street doesn’t have one (vets and animal shelters have them).

I discovered blanketID through my Brother from Another Mother (My guardian’s fur kid a.k.a. Jack).  He has a microchip, but to make sure anyone can help, Jack has a tag from blanketID. Anyone can read the tag, which gives a website address and a unique number that connects to all of his important information on a profile page, including his microchip number, medical information and more. That means that anyone can help my guardian’s canine, not just a vet or animal shelter.

I admit, I have coveted Jacks blanketID for a long, long time. Especially since they have a Canadian Maple Leaf design!

The same company also offers custom made “lounge collars” – super comfortable, super light collars just for holding the blanketID tag. It’s like wearing your own cool bling! Mom says because they make one that’s small and light enough for even tiny (but mighty!) me, I can get one for my birthday! An international dog deserves some international identity bling after all! BUT to be honest the POD is the best travel option.

Because blanketID allows for a message to show when a person enters my number, we can make sure we have a message translated into any local language. And because you can update your profile anytime and anywhere (even everyday if we want), we can use it to show our address “du jour” when traveling. It really is a perfect fit. Watch the video and learn more!

Of course, even with all of this, nothing is certain. But it’s a start. It helps us feel safer and feel better prepared for the unthinkable.  It takes the edge off and allows us to travel with a little more peace of mind.

What do you do you do to make sure you would get home when you travel? Share in the comments below.

Note: Updated from 2014 with new information.

39 Comments on “Legalizing Guardianship and Making Sure your Pet Gets Home when Traveling!

  1. Wonderful and informative post!!! This will be very helpful to any one traveling with their fur babies! Heaven forbid anything happen to your mom and dad Monte but at least you know someone who loves you will take care of you for the rest of your life. There are probably many humans in the world that do not have that comfort. You are a lucky little pup to have parents that love you so much!!

    • I am very lucky! And grateful that my bipeds thought of all this!

      I think it is often overlooked as a subject because humans don’t like to face their mortality or think of bad stuff. But “shit” does happen … and it is better to be prepared. Keep things smooth when the worst is going on. Take the guess work out.

  2. My pups always have ID and are microchipped of course and I think all pets should be. In terms of safety but not really getting home, I also use LED light collars on road trips. We like to drive at night when there’s less traffic, and I have a huge fear of something happening and the dogs getting loose – not that they ever leave my side – at night, and drivers not seeing them. So they keep reflective collars on in the car and I turn the lights on before I take them out for pee breaks. Call me paranoid, but better safe than sorry! They also keep them on the whole time we’re camping. It saved Sadie once!

    • THAT is really good advice!! I need to find an LED small enough to put on! Had never thought of this – but yes, we travel a lot at night – or in the dark when it is winter. Thanks Brit!!

  3. There are many people out there that love me and care about me….but, if anything ever happens to my Mom and Dad, I am too go live with Grama.
    We have a folder containing all my vet info such as shot requirements…meds that I am allergic too and what Mom and Dad use as natural flea, tick and worm preventatives.
    My diet plan is also in there as I have allergies and need a specific diet.
    It is not just important to know who will take care of your pet…but also to let them know how to best take care of that pet.
    -Gibson

  4. ….We also have a Blanket ID tag on an interchangeable clip…we can change it quickly onto each collar (I have a large wardrobe) while out and about on adventures. I have been micro chipped, but not all small towns have scanners so a back up tag is still very important to have on.
    -Gibson

  5. Really interesting stuff.

    A while back, after I started traveling full time, I wrote a detailed letter outlining my wishes in case something happens to me. The catalyst for the letter? Luna. I don’t have much and wasn’t too worried about things happening, but the thought of who would take Luna/what would happen to her was a wake up call. And, thus, she too has a guardian who she loves and trusts. I’ve been told I should do something more legal than a letter, but at the moment I’m trusting my family to adhere to the wishes outlined in said letter rather than paying for a legal will to be drawn up.

    • If you don’t mind me asking – how do you make sure that folks know you have this letter while on the road? How will you make sure people know to contact a certain person if something should happen to you while you are in Switzerland, or Italy or … wherever your wondering feet have taken you? Do you carry it on you? Does your landlord know?

  6. Thank you so much for including blanket ID in this really informative post! There’s certainly a lot to think about, especially when traveling, but at least using proper ID can take away some of the worry.

    We think a small Maple would be perfect for you! Thanks again for including us!

    • Our pleasure! and thank you for having such a great product! Hopefully soon you will expand to other parts of the world for the messaging. :)

  7. Wow, what a great article! This is very valuable information, thank you! It just gave us a to-do list since we also travel with our Maisie. We will share this on our Facebook page if it’s ok with you.

  8. We LOVE blanket Id!

    Great article because I have heard of/thought about who would take care of Chester and Gretel if something happened to me but never really thought about what would happen if we were traveling. Since we don’t/haven’t taken them overseas the passport requirement is not necessary for us but what if we were on a road trip around the country.

    Thanks for the post.

  9. I have something handwritten for Millie but it isn’t legal (we already had wills) although I’m not sure the person is the perfect fit for Millie….I’m really not sure who would be. Well I do know someone I would love to leave her with if something happened and of course I would leave money for her care but I never approached the person.

  10. Was this all done through a lawyer or did you draw up your own papers and have them witnessed?

  11. This is such a great and important post! While we don’t travel with our dog or cats, it’s definitely still important to think about what would happen to them if something were to happen to us. We’ve discussed it before, but we definitely should make it more formal. Great tips and things to think about. I will definitely look into updating the microchip info, too.

  12. I don’t have a formal agreement drawn up but his “guardian’s” (or person who would take him if something happened to us) emergency contact info is on my keychain and in my wallet. We used to have BlanketID tags, I don’t know where they went!

  13. It’s so important to have a good relationship with the potential guardians! I have a good friend that takes care of my pals, and I feel good about it. They love her!

  14. Incredibly detailed and important information that I never really thought about. We don’t travel much with our pets, they are too large to fly by plane. But having a designated guardian, paperwork, and plan in place in case anything happens to us is something that I want to do right away.

    • making it all legal and a part of your “estate” really helps – it’s hard enough a situation without adding people contesting new ownership.

    • We just wanted to make sure that costs (be it flights, or even just health care etc.) were legally covered too. Making it part of the estate papers makes sure that the person caring is not left with vet bills or what not … you know?

  15. While we don’t travel with Ruby all that much (local trips mostly), I have put into a place a plan if something happens to me and I can’t get home from work. I work in a major city and unfortunately things happen and you never know. It’s definitely a relief and stress reducer to think about these things ahead of time!

    • I just find that making it legal – and releasing funds in the process makes it easier for the person who now cares for your beloved pet. You know?

  16. This is such an important post. I was the coordinator for a breed rescue and we received a good deal of dogs because no one wanted the dog when the owner passed. It was so sad.

    • I think it’s where the idea came to us. To make sure that funds are legally allocated means that taking responsibility of the pet does not mean a financial burden. A reason I was told, many end up having to abandon the pet…. it’s a good way to avoid that.

  17. I am not a bit surprised to learn that your bipeds have appointed a guardian for you! They are so organized and thoughtful and you are a huge part of their world.

    We don’t travel very often, but I really want to get a blanketID tag for my dogs.

    If something happens to me, my husband has promised to take care of the dogs. If something happens to both of us, our kids or my sisters will. Although it is possible that Theo will go to a different home, I honestly don’t think it will be too devastating to the dogs.

    • I just find that it helps to have legal paperwork – who knows what will happen AND it allows you to set aside funds to go WITH the dogs to their new homes out of the estate. :)

  18. This is really important information! I was so upset because I had my sister who would take Phoebe if anything happened to me, but she recently moved to another state & to a place where they don’t accept pets! What was she thinking?? My Husky is a different story, we needed a different guardian for her since she’s quite a handful. We can’t find anyone to take both dogs )- :
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  19. Layla has a guardian, she is a PAWS client so I did it with them, her guardian has keys to my apt for emergencies plus a document with all instructions, not only that her guardian can get hold of a friend of mine who will adopt Layla legally so I breathe knowing she is totally covered if anything happens to me and I can sleep at night – it is very important to do it

  20. This is a really good reminder. We have a plan in place in case something ever happened to me or my ex, but not if something ever happened to both of us. My dogs are rather co-dependant and ensuring they stay together is a big priority for us. Great post.

  21. Great post! I never thought about a guardian for the girls when I was younger. Now that I’m in my 60s, I realize the girls could outlive me. I have a contract that says the girls go back to the breeder if for any reason I can’t keep them anymore, but she’s retired and moved. She has said she would still take them back and would find a wonderful new home for them, but she can’t guarantee they would stay together. I need to seriously find someone who could take the girls, but no one I’m close with (friends or family) are really cat people.

  22. Wow, what a great article! This is very valuable information, thank you. I have two Dachshund and in our hometown (Montana), we don’t have a guardianship services or something like that for pets. When I traveling, I’ll ask for my parents and my friends’ help. It is inconvenient but I have no choice than.

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