What do I do if my pet dies?

Like all living things, your pet will die someday. A pet can die from old age, an accident, or an illness. Even when a veterinarian (an animal doctor) helps, there are some illnesses that can’t be cured. If your pet is in a lot of pain and will never get better, your parents and the vet may decide that the animal should be allowed to die, or “put to sleep.” To make the process pain-free and peaceful, the vet can give the pet a special kind of injection (shot) to help it die. If your pet dies naturally, you may want to bury it in your back yard. But check with your town or city first to make sure burial on your property is legal. Some laws permit homeowners to bury their pets on their property, while others do not. Other options include burying your pet at a pet cemetery or cremating the animal, then scattering the ashes throughout your garden or under a favorite tree. No matter what you decide to do when your pet dies, many emotions are likely to surface, such as sadness, loneliness, or even anger. Talk to your parents about how you are feeling. You and your family may want to find special ways to remember your pet. You might have a ceremony, tell stories, write a poem, or make a scrapbook. And there are animal organizations, such as the ASPCA (the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) that can help you with the grieving process. A new animal can’t replace your old pet, but someday the time might be right for you and your family to adopt a new animal for everyone to love.

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