It’s the last thing we want to think about: what will happen to our dogs if we die before they do.
Austin lawyer and animal advocate Brenda Collier — whose family currently has seven rescued cats and dogs — didn’t especially want to think about this either. Then a friend died of cancer and her dog ended up in the shelter, despite family members having promised to care for the pet.
“I realized that there was no service that connected people needing to rehome their pets with rescuers in the event of their death or an unexpected life event,” Brenda says.
The next day, Brenda launched PetNet.
PetNet — which only works with cats and dogs now — has two different service plans, depending on your age and needs.
One is a subscription plan that costs $15 per month or $162 annually. The payments — which cap out once you’ve paid $1,000, then you never owe another penny — ensure that if you should die, PetNet will contract with a network of vetted rescue groups to get your sweet baby into a new loving home. The groups are paid by PetNet to participate.
These prices are for customers 55 years old and younger; they go up a bit for people who are older. If you’re older than 67, you can’t purchase this service.
Older folks — and people who need to find a new home for their pets right away because of a divorce, illness, or for any other reason — have a different option. This one’s called called Rehome Now. It costs $749 and promises immediate placement of your pet through one of the partner rescue groups.
PetNet’s agreement with participating rescue groups is that pets will not be euthanized for non-medical reasons. There’s also a contract promising that if the pet needs to be rehomed again — oh stop it, these poor pets! — and the rescue can’t find them a great home, PetNet will step back in to help make sure that they land in the right, best place.
If some folks are nervous that PetNet is new, or that it’s a for profit company instead of a nonprofit, Brenda offers the reassurance that she has been involved with the no kill movement for many years now and sees this new endeavor — keeping pets out of shelters, by helping them into good homes under all kinds of circumstances — as part of that work.
That’s what’s happened with two dogs so far — Sam and Pearl. Sam’s owner was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and the owner’s adult kids weren’t able to take him in. Pearl had been given up to a high-volume shelter and had a person who wanted to get her out, but that person had no foster or adoption prospects. In both cases, PetNet was able to make sure the dogs would be safe.
“The typical reaction is joy and relief,” Brenda says. “This service provides peace of mind that pets won’t be left behind.”
Featured image via Flickr/EmmyMik