Posted on

Pet Professions You Didn’t Know Existed: Pet Law

In the third article in our summer series of extraordinary pet professions, we’re going to explore “pet law”– and why it’s important to remember your animals when going over your legal docs. 

*DISCLAIMER*: This article is NOT meant to serve as legal advice and should be used for informational purposes only. Please consult an attorney before making any legal decisions.

by Caroline Wilson, owner/head editor & writer of /redpen

Any pet parent’s worst nightmare is the neglect of their family – whether they’re furry, feathered, scale-y or spiky. However, it is often our animals that are forgotten in legal affairs–namely, in the writing of a will.

Though it’s difficult to think about, we have to face the fact that we one day won’t be around to feed, walk and play with our animals. The heaviness of this topic often leads to neglect of the conversation and as a result, confusion when it comes to a pet’s well-being. “(Some pet owners) just assume some well-meaning friend or family member will take over care without even the briefest conversations about the topic.” says Christopher Parrucci, Esq., an attorney for Pet and People in NYC. One of his focuses is pet law, a field that used to be considered a joke in the legal world. Within the past years, this field has grown to be incredibly popular.

Pet law is far more than estate planning and pet trusts (a legal document that places your pet in someone else’s care–we’ll talk about that soon). It also involves governmental protections regarding various animal rights. Topics within the animal rights law realm include puppy mills, roadside zoos and even farms. While there are some legal protections of animals (the most notable of which is the Animal Welfare Act, first enacted in the mid-Sixties), there are still leaps and bounds to be made in the safeguarding of animal rights. Thankfully, household pets have now secured a place in the legal world.

Back to owner-pet law: pet trusts are becoming more and more common than putting animals in wills–in fact, every state in America has a law addressing them. What’s the hype around pet trusts, and what makes them better than the traditional will?

Traditionally, animals have been seen as property in the eyes of the law. This makes the money left in a will for a pet or its caretaker far less secured. Courts cannot control how the person left to care for the animal will spend the money. Our furry family can get lost in the shuffle and be subjected to inadequate care. By creating a pet trust, this becomes preventable. This legally binding document provides care and maintenance for animals, as well as funds to do it, in the case of the owner’s passing. Caretaker(s) and Trustee(s) (those who care for pets and distribute the funds for doing so, respectively) are held far more accountable for the animals and money left in their hands.

Though these services are increasingly in demand, they are not popular enough. Christopher says that the biggest challenge–and most important aspect–of his work is educating the public. “Most of my clients are coming to me specifically because they know I love animals and will be welcoming and encouraging of their choices to include their companion animals in their estates. But there are still so many people out there that can learn that this is an option.” Though it’s a tough subject to broach, it’s one that can be made accessible to everyone through awareness and education. 

For those of you interested in creating a pet trust, there are a few things to consider. Arguably the most important consideration is who the future caretakers and trustees of your animal(s) will be. Christopher, along with other industry experts, says that you should start by talking to your family and loved ones, particularly those who already know your pets. Similarly to traditional estate planning, designating substitute caretakers and successor trustees is essential. If you don’t have anyone to name a caretaker, many animal care and shelter organizations will place pets in homes through foster-care programs. These programs typically require contributions and advanced enrollment. Another consideration is the amount of money you’d leave for the care of your furry friend. This truly depends on your pet. A good start to this step is to keep track of how much money you spend on pet care in the course of a year, in order to help you determine the cost of care for your pet over its lifetime.

Like anything regarding your pet’s health and wellbeing, consult a professional if you’re unsure–don’t make serious legal decisions based off of information you found online.Many attorneys will even do initial consulting for free so you can get a feel for their service. Finding the right lawyer or attorney means finding someone who cares deeply about the well-being of their clients, whether furry, hairy, scale-y or otherwise!

In our next (and final) article of this series, we’ll be discussing pet trainers and the importance they have on your furry family’s manners.

About our professional:

Christopher Parrucci, Esq., is an ​attorney in New York City. He specializes in estate planning for everyone–including pets. Starting his career as a high school social studies teacher, he originally began studying law to better himself as an educator. In doing so, he discovered that animal rights were underprotected by the law. This, combined with his desire to make estate planning services accessible to people other than the wealthy, made him create his practice. He lives in the city with his wife and 14-year old rescue cat, AnaCapri.

Posted on

Rest assured! All you need to know about Pet Insurance

You wouldn’t think twice about having insurance for your car or home – but what about for your pets? As pet parents, we never want to think about our furry, feathered, or scaled family getting sick or injured. Yet it’s always good to be prepared in case the unthinkable happens, a.k.a. that time Fido’s sock-eating habit turned into emergency intestinal surgery. Want to determine whether pet insurance makes sense for your family? We’ve covered some of the top-asked questions here, including a helpful plan comparison chart to weigh your options!  (more…)

Posted on

Pet Business Insurance – What Pet Owners Need to Know About It

Are Your Paws in Protected Hands?

Pet care business insurance is something very few of us think about but really should. Whether you are a pet owner or pet care professional – making certain you are covered when something goes wrong is paramount.

Pet Care Insurance

Pet business insurance I had the great fortune to have met the leader and pioneer in the pet business insurance industry. David Pearsall, CIC, CWCA is Vice President and Co-owner of Business Insurers of the Carolinas which is a multi-line commercial insurance agency specializing in insurance for pet service professionals since 1992. David has headed up Association Liability & Bonding Programs for the largest Pet Sitting and Dog Training Associations in the US, as well as many other national associations for over 20 years. He is a licensed insurance agent in all 50 states and has held the Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) Designation and the Certified Workers Compensation Advisor (CWCA) Designation since 2002.

Among many other sponsorships, Business Insurers of the Carolinas sponsors the Pet Sitter’s InternationalBusiness Insurers of the Carolinas (PSI) Pet Sitter of the Year Program, the industry’s highest award. I met David during my “crowning” as they say back in early 2010 and from that point forward he has always stood out as the go-to man for questions about insurance. What makes David so genuine and unique is you would never know he’s selling insurance. He actually spends most of his time educating pet professionals (trainers, pet sitters, dog walkers, day care owners etc.) about what they can do to avoid accidents, protect themselves, the animals in their care and their client’s property.

David works closely with the pet care educational associations to bring the greatest coverage possible to both pet owners and pet care professionals while also providing resources on how to prevent accidents from occurring.

While I was initially inspired to bring insurance to the forefront of pet first aid awareness I wanted to do so from the pet owner’s perspective. While there is still so much for pet care business owners to know about, my friend and pet business consultant Bella Vasta from Jump Consulting has covered some great topics on this type of insurance that cater to the pet care professional. As a pet owner though, what the heck does pet business insurance and bonding matter to me?

As a Pet Owner Why Does Pet Business Insurance and Bonding Matter to Me?

David and I jumped on a Skype call to discuss this very matter. Even having done research on what questions to ask and thinking I knew many of the answers – I did not. As a pet owner or owner of property in general, I learned some incredibly valuable tips to protecting me, my animals and my property. I certainly know the next time I have to call a roofer or when the water guys show up to work on my well system today – I am asking to see their insurance certificate! A good way to make an extra buck in our litigious society is to have an accident and sue, it’s sad sad fact.

Listen to This Valuable Conversation about Insurance

We covered a lot of topics pet owners and consequently – pet care providers should know about. We even covered pet insurance, not for the business but for the actual pet. It’s not anything David sells but he still recommends it as a tool to assist in coverage on certain things like diseases – which are not covered by general liability.

In our conversation David helps us understand concepts like animal bailee coverage, what being bonded is, the importance of worker’s compensation even if if a company only has 1 employee (the owner) and makes understanding insurance coverage easy. David makes talking about the topic fun – not something you would think possible about insurance!

Scroll down for the recording, you’re so close just a few more paragraphs! 

Be Proactive Instead of Reactive

Education is the best way to prevent having to use insurance – continuing education helps keep people alert, thinking about the what if’s and preventing more accidents which lead to insurance claims. Obviously this is a natural connection to our pet first aid and CPR course but it’s a very valuable set of skills to have as a pet owner or pet care provider. By being proactive and knowing what is safe for your pets and people coming into your home, you will save yourself pain, time and stress on the back end.

Hiring a pet sitter – especially one with liability insurance and bonding obtained through an educational association – will offer you the best and most precise coverage for that pet care provider’s service. 

Bottom line – if we can limit those accidents that are pure accidents we will all save money, insurance rates will go down, bottom lines improve and the pets, the people that care for them and your property stay safer. Its a sigh of relief knowing and understanding that the person caring for your pet(s) is educated and covered by the correct insurance coverage.

For the full conversation between David and I, hit the play button below.

If you experience an issue that you believe should result in filing a claim, first seek medical help for any humans or animals involved, then contact the insurance agency. For any questions for pet owners hiring a pet care professional using Business Insurers of the Carolinas or for pet care professionals looking to make certain they have the correct coverage, contact David at 1-800-962-4611 Ext #214, or via email at [email protected]. He’s amazingly responsive, unbelievably knowledgable and a fantastic asset to making our pet industry safer.