During my first year as a pet sitter/dog walker the unthinkable happened. I walked into a home for a mid-day dog walk and the dog was dead on the floor. This wasn't a surprise for the owner as she told me at the meet and greet he was in heart failure and she knew she should have him put down but hadn't yet due to her mother being in the hospital. I ended up having to call the client while she sat in the hospital waiting for her mother to pass, and to this day it is one of the hardest phone calls I've had to make.
Later on another client with an older pet left us a card and instructions that if her dog were to pass while they were on vacation we were to call this person and he would come and bury her under the tree in the front yard. It ended up that the dog was perfectly fine for all the visits and we didn't have to utilize the disaster plan but it was in place. More recently we had a bird pass away from old age in our care and we drove him to the pet cemetery to be buried.
All the pets mentioned above happened to be old and died of natural causes but combine those stories with my experience from just the other week of a car refusing to slow down or move over as I walked a dog in a neighborhood with no sidewalks. I wasn't interested in jumping in a ditch and they clearly were intent on being an asshole so they waited until the very last moment and then swerved around us. Imagine they hadn't swerved or it was a distracted driver on a cellphone or the dog got scared and bolted to get away but because of the leash could only get in front of it. There are numerous things that can go wrong that our beyond even our control that can result in the worst case scenario becoming reality and it is always good to have a disaster plan in place just in case it happens while you're out of town.
In our area there are a few places we can take your pet if the worst happens. The first option is your vet office. They will have a freezer they can keep your pet in until your return and can decide what to do with the body. The other option is to make a plan with one of the local pet cremation services; Cherish Pet Cremation, Pet Cremation Services of Tidewater, and the Pet Loss Center. If cremation is not what you have in mind for your pet there is Garden of the Pines Pet Cemetery or you can do as the above clients did and enlist the services of someone to come and bury your pet in your yard.
Whatever you decide to do when your pet's life reaches his or her's unfortunate but inevitable conclusion is up to you, but it is a good idea to have a plan in place even for a healthy young pet as you never know what can happen and you should include your in home pet care provider in on your plan for when you're out of town. We all want what's best for our pets in this life and we should have a plan in place so they get the best when their life is over as well.