The human-animal bond is so strong that some pet owners are willing to pay as much as $100,000 to ensure their pets are cared for after they’ve passed away. When relying on family members to care for Sadie or Sam isn’t an option, pet owners now have the option of sending their pets to live at places like Stevenson Companion Animal Life-Care Center, a pet retirement home run by Texas A&M University in College Station.
According to a recent article in Businessweek, as an acknowledgment to the strong human-animal bond, some veterinary schools now help people plan for their pets’ future. Programs either provide animals with lifelong care or find them new homes after their owners die or are no longer able to care for them. Animal welfare experts estimate that each year tens of thousands of pets are killed in overcrowded shelters and veterinary hospitals because their owners didn't make arrangements for their continued care.
Many veterinary schools offer so-called retirement homes or retirement services for pets. At the University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, the Tender Loving Care for Pets Program places animals in pre-screened homes then keeps tabs on them to make sure they’re cared for properly. Since 1996, Kansas State University has offered a similar service called the Perpetual Pet Care Program.
At KSU, the minimum enrollment amount for a small companion animal is $25,000, which is given to the school after the pet owner’s death through an estate, trust, or life insurance policy. According to the article, at Texas A&M, the amount is based on the pet owner’s age. For example, someone in his or her 30s with a dog or cat must leave $100,000 to the university or pay $10,000 up front. Doing so insures a spot for the owner’s current animal or the pet he or she owns at the time of death.