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.
by Cyndie Anderson
Summer means hotter temps, longer days and of course BUGS! Yes, lots of ’em. Even as summer draws to a close, it’s crucial that you protect your pets from pesky seasonal pests (try saying that five times fast!). There are several different kinds to be concerned with but luckily – various ways to protect your dog or cat from the risks!
I’ll begin with everyone’s number one pest fear: fleas. Fleas are notoriously difficult to stamp out. This is because of their various life stages that can last for months or even up to a year. Flea larvae and pupae sit around just waiting for the right conditions to hatch into the next life stage which eventually results in a new generation of fleas. Fleas can transmit tapeworms to pets as well as various diseases to humans, including typhus. They can also carry cat scratch disease and feline anemia.
A close second are ticks. Ticks tend to drop off of plants and trees on to your pet. Brushing up against shrubbery or walking under low hanging trees puts your pet at high risk for ticks. The most dangerous among them are deer ticks that spread crippling Lyme disease. While Lyme disease is treatable, it is most often not caught until symptoms appear and by then the treatment may not be effective. Ticks can also carry bacterial illnesses like Ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Fortunately, there are multiple ways to protect your pet from pests. Most popular these days are topical or oral preventatives. Topical preventatives are usually applied monthly between your pet’s shoulder blades. Oral preventatives are also an option, usually given once a month by mouth and designed to seem like tasty treats to pets. Your vet can recommend and prescribe the appropriate product and dosage for your pet.
Some folks are using more natural remedies these days – including essential oils and diatomaceous earth. There is always the long-standing flea and tick collar. All these methods repel pests before they infest your pet and home.
Make sure your pets are protected this pest season and consider preventative measures to keep them safe!
About the Author:
Originally from the Shenandoah Valley, I have been in Northern Virginia for 21 years. I left the corporate world in 2000 to stay at home with my two stepdaughters. Having gone back to work part-time after becoming an empty nester, I finally felt like I wanted to do something different. There are two things I am really passionate about: music and dogs. I decided to take my love for dogs and start Pooch Pros Pet Care Services. Having previously worked for a pet sitting service, I knew this would be a perfect fit for me. Currently, I am mama of two fur babies: Target, a 14-year-old mixed breed and Jeeves, a 9-year-old Maltese. I look forward to meeting you and your pet and providing you with excellent care and service
by Nina Parker, Professional Pet Photographer based in Atlanta, Georgia
There’s a saying about photography: “The best camera for the shot is the one you have with you.” You may own a classic 35mm, an edgy mirrorless camera, or a tricked out point-and-shoot model, but where is it? If the answer is in a drawer somewhere, then it can’t be producing great pictures. For many people, the camera they have with them nearly all the time is…a smart phone. (more…)
by Stacy Ferrara, Pawsitive Potential
There’s that old joke about “herding cats” that’s used to describe something extremely difficult, if not impossible. Cats have always been thought of as independent and aloof creatures that do what they want on their own time. This likely comes from comparing them to dogs who have entirely different behaviors and motivations. The reality is that cats can be trained to do a variety of things. It can be retraining a negative behavior to something more pleasing to their guardians (such as using the litter box) or learning to “SIT” on command. Sometimes the biggest hurdle is training the guardians to realize that training really is possible. (more…)
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…)