Love My Pet

Animal charities would not be able to do their vital and valuable work without legacies, says Jo Knowsley

Sometimes one of the most important companions in our lives isn’t a person at all – more than 62% of us share our homes with a pet. Dogs are the most common human companions, with 34% of households having a canine pet. A further 28% have a cat.

So why not leave a comforting legacy to care for your pet when you pass away? Or a legacy for a charity that cares for other animals you are particularly fond of.

Dogs Trust ( is the UK’s largest dog welfare charity. It has 20 rehoming centres nationwide and cares for about 15,000 animals a year. It also promises to never put a healthy dog to sleep.

‘With my free canine care card I have complete piece of mind,’ says Barbara, 73, who has two beagles aged four and six. ‘In the normal course of events you would expect me to outlive my pets, but you can never guarantee anything, can you? This is so reassuring to me. I can’t bear to think of anything happening to my dogs if I wasn’t around.’

A spokesman for Dogs Trust says: ‘We know that the bond between you and your four-legged best friend is entirely unique. And it’s hard to imagine that anyone could care for and love your dog as much as you do. But we promise we will. If you become seriously ill or pass away we will look after your companion, help them back on their paws and find them a home.’

You might also consider leaving a legacy in your will to one of the many charities that look after animals which for one reason or another have found themselves homeless. Since the cost-of-living crisis has bitten hard many people are regretfully finding they cannot afford to care for their pets properly - there are now even animal food banks in areas across the country.

When it comes to our feline companions you might want to think about leaving a legacy to Cats Protection (, which each year helps 230,000 cats and kittens across the UK.

‘Remembering Cats Protection in your will can help us to improve the lives of generations upon generations of cats and kittens,’ a spokesman says.

‘Every year we help hundreds of thousands of cats and kittens across the UK, and we would not be able to do this without the legacies left to us by kind catloving supporters. These gifts make a huge difference to us and will continue to help us care for the UK’s cats and kittens.’

The RSPCA ( runs a Home for Life scheme, which once you’ve registered, promises to care for your pet and rehome it if you die or become too infirm to care for it. There is no charge to join the scheme, but the RSPCA would be delighted if you made a bequest to help other needy animals.

Pets are not the only animals that have a place in our hearts. There are also large numbers of horse and donkey sanctuaries around the UK that rely solely on public donations to run their operations. We donate more money to donkey sanctuaries than almost any other animal charity, but organisations that work to save retired or injured racehorses and ensure the welfare of working horses and donkeys often get overlooked.

Then there are charities such as the British Hen Welfare Trust (, which rehomes tens of thousands of ex-battery chickens every year. None of these charities received any government funding.

The key thing, when leaving a legacy, is to include the registered charity’s number in your will as well as its name. Most charities have help sheets and advice lines you can call for information on how best to leave a bequest in.