By Margaret Cate, Volunteer Writer

 Estate planning is a difficult topic for most of us to address. The process can be further complicated if we have a beloved pet who may be left behind after we depart. Who will care for our furry friends when we are no longer able to do the job? Even Queen Elizabeth faced this dilemma with her cherished corgis. Fortunately, the Dumb Friends League offers a solution to this problem that affects so many.

The Dr. Mary E. Bates Founders Society, started in 1954, offers membership to anyone who designates the Dumb Friends League as a beneficiary of their estate. No minimum gift is required. Members enjoy an annual luncheon and receive name recognition in the League’s annual report and on a shelter lobby plaque. Arguably, the biggest benefit of joining the society is the Pet Guardianship Program. Natalie Gupta, Major and Planned Giving Officer at the League, explained that the program is designed to care for an animal immediately after their owner’s death and then to thoughtfully place them in a loving home. This program makes it unnecessary to create a pet trust or set aside specific funds for an animal’s continued care.

 After an owner has passed away, a family member or other designated party is responsible for transporting the pet to the League. Once in the League’s care, the animal is treated like a VIP! They’re immediately assessed and treated for medical and behavioral needs and then placed in foster care. The animal stays with a foster family and receives specialized attention until an adoptive family can be identified, thus sparing the pet the stress of living in the shelter environment. The animal’s description and photo are placed on the League’s website, and the foster parent brings the animal to the League to meet with any potential adopters. The League asks that anyone interested in joining the Pet Guardianship Program provide the following information about the animal to further specialize their care:

  • A physical description 
  • A photo
  • A pet profile that includes their medical history, dietary needs, a history of veterinarian visits, allergies, likes and dislikes, phobias, commands the animal knows, details about their daily routine, and the amount of exercise needed per day

Natalie expressed her gratitude for everyone who has already included the Dumb Friends League in their wills and for those who are considering future gifts to the Founders Society. Such meaningful contributions ensure the success and longevity of the organization. All inquiries regarding planned giving and estate planning for pets can be directed to