Life Lessons I Learned From My Cat

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Hi everyone —

Sorry it’s been so long since my last post. Unfortunately it has been a hectic — and frankly extremely sad — few weeks here at In Brief Legal Writing Services. As many of you already know, our mascot, Eli “The Cat” Bogdanovic, passed away a week ago at age 13.

He was fine when I got back from London — or at least he seemed fine. But during the first week of June we noticed he no longer wanted any kibble, which was highly unusual. Gradually he lost interest in his food altogether, but was still drinking. After a harrowing weekend, I took him to the veterinarian on Monday, June 10.

Eli the cat.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot, Eli the cat. 1/1/06 – 6/17/19

To make a long story short, his initial assessment showed evidence of significant dental issues and alarmingly elevated kidney values. He was hospitalized for four days and I visited him twice during that time. We brought him home on Friday, June 14 and he seemed to be doing well. But the next morning, he made it clear that he no longer wanted any medical intervention, even here at home.

So we made the incredibly difficult decision to let him leave us on his terms here at home, with us, where he knew he was loved. And that’s exactly what he did.

Life won’t be the same without him.

He was more than a mascot for my business. He was my best friend. He never let met down. He was a great listener. In fact, he was my officially unofficial “therapy cat.” He was a great teacher. I learned so much from him. I learned:

  1. Don’t give up on people, no matter how many times you’ve been betrayed or how badly they let you down.
  2. Once you do find someone you can trust completely, you’ll realize everything else was worth it.
  3. A true friend will always stand up for you no matter what.
  4. Live life on your own terms.
  5. When all else fails, turn on the charm.
  6. Sometimes, silence speaks volumes.
  7. Loyalty is one of the most precious commodities on earth.
  8. Those that you love most fiercely are the ones who need it most.
  9. If you get a second chance at anything, make the most of it.
  10. Life is wonderful, but it is incredibly unpredictable and incredibly short, so make the most of every day.

Alexandra Bogdanovic is a paralegal and the owner/founder of In Brief Legal Writing Services. She is also an award-winning author and journalist whose interests include animal welfare and animal law. All opinions expressed in this forum are her own. Any information pertaining to legal matters is intended solely for general audiences and should not be regarded as legal advice.

Michigan Animal Shelter Offers Pets For Veterans

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On a day dedicated to remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our freedom, it is also important to thank those who served in our armed forces and survived. Those who were fortunate emerged physically and emotionally unscathed. But many were not so fortunate. And while most of us will never fully understand, or even begin to imagine, what they’ve been through, we can still find meaningful ways to demonstrate our compassion, support and gratitude for their service.

Second and Main. Warrenton, Va. Memorial Day, 2012.
Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

According to recent media reports, a local group in Jackson, Michigan, has done just that. An event, called “Pets for Jackson County Veterans,” is sponsored by Jackson’s Friends of the Animals. It began last Monday and continues through June 15. So for the next three weeks (give or take a few days), veterans can visit the Jackson County Animal Shelter and choose an animal to take home as a pet.

“There’s so many organizations across the country that are realizing the value of matching veterans with pets and helping with PTSD,” Jackson County Animal Shelter Director Lydia Sattler told the media. “And knowing that we have a lot of animals in the shelter right now that really would be a great match for someone that’s needing that companionship and that comfort, the fact that we can help both the veterans and animals out is just a win-win situation.”

The Friends of the Animals for the Jackson area also told the media it sponsored the event in an effort to help “enrich the lives of veterans.”

And there is certainly reason to believe it will.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says there are proven benefits of pet ownership including increased opportunities to exercise, spend time outside and interact with other people. The CDC also notes that having a pet can “help manage loneliness and depression by giving us companionship.” Finally, the CDC notes that, “studies have shown that the bond between people and their pets can increase fitness, lower stress, and bring happiness to their owners.”

As I write this, plenty of pets are waiting for a chance to form that bond. In fact, the ASPCA estimates that millions of unwanted dogs and cats end up in U.S. shelters in any given year. Of those, approximately 3.3 million are dogs and 3.2 million are cats. The good news, according to the organization, is that 3.2 million shelter animals are adopted each year (1.6 million dogs and 1.6 million cats).

As Fox network’s Lansing and Jackson affiliate reports, pet adoptions fees at “Pets for Jackson County Veterans,” will be covered.

All animals available for adoption will be current on their vaccines and will be spayed or neutered.

To adopt a pet veterans will need to bring proof of residence in Jackson County along with  a copy of their DD214 paperwork or their Jackson County Veterans ID card.

The Jackson County Animal Shelter is located at 3370 Spring Arbor Road and is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.


Alexandra Bogdanovic is a paralegal and the owner/founder of In Brief Legal Writing Services. She is also an award-winning author and journalist whose interests include animal welfare and animal law. All opinions expressed in this forum are her own. Any information pertaining to legal matters is intended solely for general audiences and should not be regarded as legal advice.

CT Veterinarian Facing Animal Cruelty Charges Returns To Work

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Not too long ago, I wrote a very disturbing post about a Connecticut veterinarian charged with animal cruelty and third-degree larceny in connection with his “treatment” of a dog named Monster.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

I’ve been away since then, and just returned to work today. While going through my google alerts, this morning,  I learned that the veterinarian in question has also returned to work while his case winds its way through the courts. And while I understand that everyone is innocent until proven guilty and everyone is entitled to due process, the thought of this man being allowed near another animal, much less being allowed to “treat” another animal disgusts me.

To recap, Dr. Dr. Amr Wasfi of Black Rock Animal Hospital in Bridgeport is accused of:

  • Lying about Monster’s condition
  • Performing unnecessary surgery
  • Failing to provide Monster with adequate food and water
  • Keeping Monster in the hospital for a prolonged period
  • Refusing to let Monster’s owner see the dog while Monster was at the hospital
  • Charging Monster’s owner for the unnecessary surgery

Wasfi is also accused of abusing a kitten that was in his care. According to someone who allegedly witnessed the incident, Wasfi “hit a kitten that was under anesthesia so hard that the kitten’s intestines popped out of an incision.” The same witness said Wasfi was “agitated” and that he “threw surgical tools around the room.”

The witness was reportedly fired from the animal hospital after confiding to another employee that she planned to report the matter.

The initial court appearance

Wasfi was arrested last month, but posted a $10,000 bond and was released. Then, on May 8, he reportedly entered no plea to the charges. During Wasfi’s appearance that day, Superior Court Judge William Holden also granted Wasfi’s lawyer’s request to continue the matter until June 7 so the attorney could have more to time to “examine the evidence.”

Since then, Bridgeport police have warned the public not to take their pets to Black Rock Animal Hospital.

“We just want the public to be aware that if they were considering bringing their animals here, just to understand some of the criminal charges we uncovered here,” Bridgeport Police Capt. Brian Fitzgerald told the media.

Scary details about Wasfi’s past emerge

Published reports have also provided some valuable — and frightening — insight into Wasfi’s past. Specifically, they show that this is not the first time he’s been in trouble. Apparently, he had his license revoked in 1996, when the Connecticut Board of Veterinary Medicine found him guilty of “unskillfulness toward an animal.” His license was reinstated in 2003 contingent upon the successful completion of a five-year probationary period.He reportedly completed his probation on April 30, 2008.

Fast-forward to this year when, as the press reports, Connecticut authorities spent months investigating Wasfi prior to his arrest. The investigation stemmed from numerous complaints “about pets whose conditions worsened instead of improving after being treated by the veterinarian.”

Now, maybe some of you don’t think it’s fair to rush to judgment. Maybe some of you don’t believe in convicting someone in the court of public opinion without knowing all of the facts. Maybe some of you actually believe in second chances. Sometimes, I do, too. But not in this case.


Alexandra Bogdanovic is a paralegal and the owner/founder of In Brief Legal Writing Services. She is also an award-winning author and journalist whose interests include animal welfare and animal law. All opinions expressed in this forum are her own. Any information pertaining to legal matters is intended solely for general audiences and should not be regarded as legal advice.

Who Needs A Therapist When You’ve Got A Pet?

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It must have been  a really slow news day.

Last Tuesday, USA Today reported that pets help combat loneliness and talking to them isn’t really crazy. In fact, the news outlet reported, it’s actually kind of good for you. Really? Really? Tell me something I didn’t already know.

As most of you know, I’ve had cats since I was 10. And I’ll always have one. It’s as simple as that.

Having said that, the one I’ve got now is pretty damn cool. Among other things, he’s a great listener. I kid you not. He’s bee known to curl up on my lap or by my feet and stay their quietly while I vented about work or cried about… work. He doesn’t judge. In fact, he doesn’t say a word.

Yes, he is my best friend. My confidant. My  official unofficial therapy cat. Or something like that. And he is so damned cute. The other day, I came in from cutting the grass only to find him waiting patiently for me at the top of the stairs. There he was, in full-on “breadbox” mode — with all four paws and his tail tucked in — looking at me as if to say: “Where have you been? I’ve been waiting for you.”

He’s super-smart. He comes when he’s called (most of the time). He sits when he’s told (most of the time). He lets us know when he wants to go out, when he wants to come in, when he’s hungry, when he needs a clean litter box and when he wants attention. Yes, he communicates all of these things — in no uncertain terms. But for the most part, he just listens. And that’s why I love him.

Oh, by the way. Since the USA Today article quotes an expert as saying that it’s also healthy to share photos of your pet, I’ll leave you with a few of my favorites. Enjoy!

Eli the cat.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot, Eli the cat.
Truth about cats.
Truth. As seen at the cat adoption tent. Puttin’ on the Dog festival, 2017. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
In Brief Legal Writing Services Mascot, Eli.
Eli The Cat. Photo By Alexandra Bogdanovic

Alexandra Bogdanovic is a paralegal and the owner/founder of In Brief Legal Writing Services. She is also an award-winning author and journalist whose interests include animal welfare and animal law. All opinions expressed in this forum are her own. Any information pertaining to legal matters is intended solely for general audiences and should not be regarded as legal advice.

Walmart Now ‘Targeting’ Pet Parents

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In my day job, I spend plenty of time writingabout corporate giants. Usually it’s when they’re up to no good. (Allegedly. Apparently. Supposedly. Purportedly. Police said.) But today, I’ve got good news. Or maybe it’s not such good news, depending on how you look at it.

Walmart is reportedly expanding its offerings for pet parents. Specifically, customers will now be able to get more pet prescriptions for their dogs cats, horses and livestock filled and delivered through  WalmartPetRx.com.

Great Dane wins Best Lap Dog contest at Puttin' on the Dog.
Best Lap Dog winner. Puttin’ on the Dog. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

Walmart is also adding in-store vet clinics, which are currently offered  through a partnership with Essentials PetCare. According to published reports, Walmart plans to have them in 100 stores throughout the United States  by the end of the year. Now in 21 Walmart locations, these clinics will provide routine veterinary services including check-ups, shots, and treatment of minor illnesses.

In a statement provided to the media, Director for Walmart Corporate Affairs Marilee McInnis said the retail giant is “thrilled to be working with Essentials to expand veterinary care” at its stores.

“Pets play an important role in many people’s lives, and making sure families have easy access to high-quality, affordable veterinary care is in-line with helping our customers save money and live better, including their four-legged family members,” she added.

Call me a skeptic, but…

Call me a cynic, a skeptic or a pessimist. But even as a pro-capitalist and staunch supporter of a free market economy, I can’t help but wonder if Walmart’s motives are as altruistic as McInnis would like you to believe. After all, in Walmart’s world turning a profit is the bottom line. And by making more products and services available to American pet owners, Walmart stands to make a lot of money.

You don’t believe me? That’s fine. You don’t have to take my word for it. Widely cited data from an American Pet Products Association study indicates that Americans are spending tens of billions on our pets. And it doesn’t look like that’s going to change any time soon — at least not if millennials have anything to say about it.

A 2018 TD Ameritrade study reportedly found that more millennials (70 percent)  own pets than any other group. The same study found that millennials are also “more likely to drop money on higher-end products and discretionary items such as pet clothes.” In fact, the study found, the average amount a millennial dog owner spends on their pet per year tops out at almost $1,300.

The cost of pet care

In 2018 alone, American pet owners reportedly spent:

  • More than $30 billion on food
  • More than $18 billion on veterinary care
  • More than $16 billion on supplies/accessories (beds, collars, leashes, toys, travel items, clothing, food and water bowls, pet tech products, and so forth)

“People across generations are keeping their pets longer, thus reducing the acquisition of new pets,” said Bob Vetere, president and CEO of the American Pet Products Association. “However, with spending on our pets higher than ever before, it’s clear that giving pets the best lives possible is still a top priority for pet owners, and they’re willing to spend more on the quality products and services they consume if it means more quality time with their beloved companions.”

Clearly, Walmart has no qualms about cashing in.


Alexandra Bogdanovic is a paralegal and the owner/founder of In Brief Legal Writing Services. She is also an award-winning author and journalist whose interests include animal welfare and animal law. All opinions expressed in this forum are her own. Any information pertaining to legal matters is intended solely for general audiences and should not be regarded as legal advice.

The Cost Of Responsible Pet Ownership

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Lots of people love animals. But sometimes love is not enough.

Sometimes, a long distance (or even international) move forces owners to rehome or surrender their pets to local shelters. Sometimes old age or catastrophic illness prevents an owner from continuing to care for their pet. Sometimes a pet is surrendered because of a shift in family dynamics (such as a birth). And sometimes, the owner realizes that they can simply no longer afford to provide for their pet.

dog parade, puttin on the dog, 2018
An Adopt-A-Dog volunteer with a dog available for adoption. Puttin’ On The Dog, 2018. Photo by A. Bogdanovic

In  fact, cost  reportedly ranks among the top five reasons for pet relinquishment. And frankly, that’s just not right.

Part of being a responsible pet owner — and I do stress responsible pet owner — is being fully informed before you buy or adopt a pet. That means you should know how much it will cost to buy or adopt and provide ongoing care for your pet before you get one. And you need to be honest with yourself about whether you can afford to have a pet before you get one.

That being stated, here is some general information about the costs associated with pet ownership.

  • Initial Cost: Adoption fees (which sometimes include the cost of spay/neuter procedures) will typically be approximately $100. If you are buying a pet from a pet shop or directly from a breeder, expect to pay several times that amount. Conservatively, plan on spending at least $400  to $500 for the acquisition of your pet.
  • Accessories: Brushes, food bowls, toys, litter boxes, leashes, collars, scratching posts… They’re all essential and costs can add up quickly. Budget at least $125 to $140 to cover these costs, depending on whether you get a dog or cat.
  • Preliminary vet check: Whether you adopt or buy your pet, one of the first things you should do is take your new pet to the vet for a thorough checkup. Some shelters or rescues will have arrangements with local veterinarians who will do these exams for a small fee. Plan on spending $50, for the exam and put an additional $200 or so aside for a spay/neuter if Fluffy or Fido hasn’t been “fixed.”
  • Ongoing expenses: Again, food, treats, and toys top the list of pet supplies that have to be replenished on a regular basis. Of course you should budget for these based on your pet’s unique needs. A general estimate is $150 to $200 or more per year for dogs, and $200 per year for cats.
  • Medical expenses: Let’s not sugar coat it. Veterinary care is expensive. Even “healthy” dogs and cats need routine shots and other preventive care. Budget at least $350 to $450 for annual check-ups and related matters, exclusive of emergency medical care.
  • Unexpected costs: Of course, there’s no way to budget for unanticipated events. But if you can, try to set some money aside for emergency veterinary care (for illness or injury). You should also consider health insurance for your pet, since even routine care (like teeth cleaning and lab work) tends to be expensive.
  • Additional considerations: Do you travel a lot? Even if you only leave home occasionally, you’ll need someone to look after your pet. In a perfect world, you’ll be able to count on a friend or family member. But if that’s not possible, you’ll have to get a professional pet sitter, or leave Fluffy or Fido at a kennel or cattery. In any case, it may be costly, so you should plan accordingly.

Speaking as a pet owner, I know exactly how expensive having a cat can be. I also know it’s worth it.


Alexandra Bogdanovic is a paralegal and the owner/founder of In Brief Legal Writing Services. She is also an award-winning author and journalist whose interests include animal welfare and animal law. All opinions expressed in this forum are her own. Any information pertaining to legal matters is intended solely for general audiences and should not be regarded as legal advice.

Staggering Allegations Made Against CT Veterinarian

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In the United States of America, all new veterinarians take the following oath:

“Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.

I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.

I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence.”

But apparently some of them don’t take it seriously.

According to a recent news report, Dr. Amr Wasfi, a Bridgeport, Connecticut, veterinarian, was supposed to appear in court on Wednesday. He is facing animal cruelty and third-degree larceny charges based on his “treatment” of a dog named Monster.

The accusations are detailed in an arrest warrant and shared on an NBC affiliate’s website. As set forth in the warrant, Monster’s owner took him to the vet when he noticed Monster limping. That was on February 14, and the initial diagnosis was a sprained knee. Apparently, Wasfi prescribed some pain medicine and sent the dog home.

But when Monster hadn’t improved a week later, his owner brought him back to Black Rock Animal Hospital, where Wasfi again assessed the dog’s condition. This time, the diagnosis was a fractured pelvis. Monster’s owner learned that surgical intervention would be required, and Monster would have to stay at the hospital for five days (until March 7).

A stunning revelation

As NBC’s Connecticut affiliate reports, Monster’s owner told the authorities he contacted the vet that day, only to be told his dog couldn’t come home — yet. Instead, he was allegedly told, Monster had to “stay a few more days for monitoring.” Apparently, Monster’s repeated requests to see his dog after that were denied.  According to the warrant, he finally contacted Animal Control and retrieved Monster on March 25.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

According to the warrant, Monster’s owner then discovered that his dog, who 63 pounds prior to his stay at Black Rock Animal Hospital, had lost 17 pounds.

Monster’s owner then took him to the Emergency Room at Central Hospital for Veterinary Medicine. That’s when he learned that Monster never had a fracture and he never needed operation, which included putting a screw in Monster’s pelvis. One of the veterinarians that treated Monster at Central Hospital For Veterinary Medicine also told police that Monster was being treated for “refeeding syndrome” and dehydration. Police then learned that the treatment is warranted when “an animal is without proper food or water for at least 10 days.”

To make matters even worse, Monster’s owner also told police Wasfi charged him more than $3,000 for Monster’s operation.

An emerging pattern?

As NBC Connecticut also reports, that wasn’t the only complaint lodged against Wasfi. A former Black Rock employee apparently reported that she “witnessed Wasfi hit a kitten that was under anesthesia so hard that the kittens intestines popped out of an incision.” As documented in the warrant, the same complainant  also said that Wasfi was “agitated” and threw surgical tools around the room.”

The warrant also indicates she confided in a co-worker and said she planned to file a complaint. She also told police she planned to resign the next day, but when she showed up for work the employee with whom she shared her concerns greeted her at the door, in gave her a box of her belongings, and informed her she had been fired.

At this point, Wasfi also faces an uncertain fate. In addition to the criminal charges he is currently facing, he will likely face disciplinary action by the Connecticut State Board of Veterinary Medicine.

Sec. 20-202(2) of Chapter 384 of the Connecticut General Statutes specifically states that the board can discipline a licensed veterinarian when there is proof that: “the holder of such license or certificate has become unfit or incompetent or has been guilty of cruelty, unskillfulness or negligence towards animals and birds.”

Sec. 20-202(3) of CGS Chapter 384 also authorizes the board to take disciplinary action based upon: “conviction of the violation of any of the provisions of this chapter by any court of criminal jurisdiction.”

However, the board cannot take any disciplinary action as long as the appeal of such a conviction is pending, or if the conviction is overturned on appeal.


Alexandra Bogdanovic is a paralegal and the owner/founder of In Brief Legal Writing Services. She is also an award-winning author and journalist whose interests include animal welfare and animal law. All opinions expressed in this forum are her own. Any information pertaining to legal matters is intended solely for general audiences and should not be regarded as legal advice.

Exploitation In The Service Dog Industry And The People Who Pay The Price

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This is a story about broken promises, broken dreams and a broken system. This is also a story about a little girl with a broken heart.

As the Associated Press reports, Sobie Cummings was just nine when a psychiatrist suggested that a service dog might help her cope with intense emotional anguish and loneliness.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

Eager to help their little girl, Sobie’s parents agreed. And in the summer of 2017, they thought they finally found the perfect person to provide the perfect dog. That person was Mark Mathis, the then-owner of the Apex, N.C.-based kennel, Ry-Con Service Dogs. He owned a kennel fairly close to home, he is the parent of an autistic child, and he had stellar credentials — or so the Cummings thought.

They believed the claims in the online brochure. At the time, they had no reason not to believe that Mathis was “certified as a NC state approved service dog trainer with a specialty in autism service dogs for children” in 2013, as the brochure stated. And at the time, they had no reason not to believe Mathis when he quickly told them he had “the perfect dog” for their autistic daughter, even though he hadn’t met Sobie.

At the time, they had no way to know that based on her behavior, the dog — a Briard named Okami — never should have been sold to anyone, much less to  a family with a special needs child and two older dogs at home.

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), service dogs must be “handler-focused, desensitized to distractions, and highly trained to do specific tasks. They should not be distracted by the public, as they should focus solely on their owner when working.”

The AKC also notes that safe and successful service dogs must have a specific temperament and abilities. They must be: calm but friendly; alert but not reactive; willing to be touched by anyone, including strangers; be willing to please; have the tendency to follow you around; be socialized to numerous situations and environments*; and have the ability to learn quickly and retain information. (*Emphasis added.)

On a webpage devoted to the breed, the AKC notes that Briards have some of these traits. Specifically, they are “confident, smart and faithful.” Because they are a herding breed, Briards may also have “a protective eye toward family (especially kids, whom they regard as their flock), and wariness with outsiders.”

Although their intelligence and athletic ability allows them to “excel at almost any canine role or sport,” the AKC notes that their independence may make them difficult to train. The AKC also says that socialization “should begin early and continue throughout the Briard’s life.”

But as the Associated Press reports, Okami “pulled at her leash and refused to lie down” while on  “training trips to local stores.” As the AP also reports, Okami “growled and lunged at people and defecated in a hallway” at a mall.

A dream becomes a nightmare

Still, Okami “graduated” in May 2018, and the Cummings bought her for more than $14,000. But when they finally brought her home on Mother’s Day weekend, nearly a year after they first contacted Mathis, their dream became a nightmare.

With no apparent provocation, the Cummings claim, Okami immediately attacked one of the family’s older dogs. And to make matters even worse, they say, Sobie saw the whole thing.

With no other choice, the Cummings sent Okami back to Mathis. And that’s when they made another horrible discovery. Not only were the claims about Mathis’ state certification in North Carolina untrue, but there is no such thing as a  state certification for service dog trainers anywhere in the U.S.

To add insult to injury, Mathis allegedly refused to refund the Cummings’ money, prompting a lawsuit. And then last November, Mathis reportedly notified clients by email that he was closing the kennel because  it was “no longer sustainable.” The next day, the AP reports,  he filed for bankruptcy protection.

North Carolina authorities launched an investigation based on a slew of ensuing complaints. And the allegations are damning. According to state Attorney General Josh Stein, Mathis “falsified medical records and breeder information.” Stein also alleges that Mathis “may have ‘siphoned’ as much as $240,000 of the nonprofit’s money for personal expenses.”

Mathis, a biotech engineer who co-founded Ry-Con Service Dogs with his wife after a service dog helped their autistic son, has emphatically denied the allegations. He also contends that his clients have broken their contracts, fallen behind on payments and misrepresented “conditions in their homes.”

Only time will tell what the future holds for Mathis. In the meantime, all the Cummings can do is try to help their daughter recover from the PTSD she developed after witnessing Okami’s violent attack on their pet.

“Her life is not what it was,” her mother told the AP. “The light’s not back in her eyes yet.”

Apparently, Okami may also be facing an uncertain fate.  According to the AP, Mathis sold her to another family — with a similar outcome. That family has also filed a complaint.

Time to set some boundaries

Although there is a growing demand for service dogs to help people with autism and PTSD, experts say there is little to no meaningful regulation or oversight for the training of such service dogs.  As it now stands, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) doesn’t even mandate that service dogs are professionally trained.

Until effective rules are implemented, families like the Cummings will be susceptible to incompetence… or worse.

“It is a lawless area. The Wild West,” David Favre, a law professor at Michigan State University and editor of its Animal Legal and Historical Center website, told the AP.

That needs to change.


Alexandra Bogdanovic is a paralegal and the owner/founder of In Brief Legal Writing Services. She is also an award-winning author and journalist whose interests include animal welfare and animal law. All opinions expressed in this forum are her own. Any information pertaining to legal matters is intended solely for general audiences and should not be regarded as legal advice.

No horsing around: Well-Deserved Recognition For CT Rescue

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For this Connecticut rescue group, there’s no such thing as a big problem.

Since 2010, the Connecticut Draft Horse Rescue (CDHR) has been saving horses from certain death. Today, the East Hampton, Connecticut-based organization has dozens of volunteers. It also has a recent commendation from the Connecticut General Assembly for its past and ongoing work.

“We went from very humble roots to what we are today,” founder Stacey Golub told the media.

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

The effort began when Golub, a veterinarian, enlisted the help of some friends to save a Shire mare from a Pennsylvania auction and the slaughterhouse. Together, they scraped together enough money to transport, vet, and house her.

They also named her Cleo. And with their care, Cleo, who was initially in extremely rough shape, made an astounding recovery. Eventually, Cleo also got a new home.

And, as the Hartford Courant reports, the small, but dedicated group that saved her life “was hooked.” So in February of 2011, the CDHR officially became recognized nonprofit organization.

A place where size doesn’t matter

Although it is best known for rescuing big horses, CDHR doesn’t discriminate when it comes to helping animals in need. Since its inception, the group has also welcomed miniature horses along with goats and sheep.

Some of the animals have been neglected, and others are surrendered when their owners can no longer afford to provide suitable care. Then there are those that the group rescues from a weekly Pennsylvania auction where nearly half the horses on the block will likely end up at a slaughterhouse.

At CDHR, the first priority is the provision of healthcare, hoof care and training the horses need. Once those needs have been addressed, focus shifts to finding new homes for them.

“If we can’t do that, they stay here,” said Golub.

CDHR also encourages anyone who does adopt a horse to return it if they are unable to provide proper care for any reason, at any time.

An expensive endeavor

Even with as many as 12 volunteers per day helping to care for the horses at CDHR’s East Hampton property, costs add up quickly.

Golub estimates that the annual cost of hay alone easily tops $30,000. And then there are the expenses associated with veterinary care, special food, shoeing and related hoof care, and so on. On top of which, CDHR reportedly needs a new barn.

If you’ve got some spare change laying around and you want to contribute to a worthy cause, you  can help out by making a general donation to CDHR or a specific contribution for the barn project.

If you can’t make a donation at the moment, that’s fine, too. You can always volunteer, or even inquire about fostering or adopting a horse rescued by CDHR. You can learn more about these opportunities here.

Open house slated for May 19

If you live in the area, you can also learn about the wonderful work this group does at an open house scheduled for May 19. The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at CDHR’s East Hampton property, which is located at 113 Chestnut Hill Road. For more information, you can always call the group at  860-467-6587.


Alexandra Bogdanovic is a paralegal and the owner/founder of In Brief Legal Writing Services. She is also an award-winning author and journalist whose interests include animal welfare and animal law. All opinions expressed in this forum are her own. Any information pertaining to legal matters is intended solely for general audiences and should not be regarded as legal advice.

Connecticut Puppy Scam Alert Issued

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How much is that little doggy in the window?

In the past couple of years, I’ve done numerous posts on new initiatives and laws mandating that pet stores sell only dogs and cats sourced from shelters. In general, they address two concerns. The first is to alleviate the burden on crowded animal shelters across the country. The second is to crack down on so-called puppy mills. The latter is accomplished by preventing pet shops from sourcing animals from unscrupulous breeders.

Adopt-A-Dog volunteer with dog for adoption.
As seen at Puttin’ On The Dog, 2017. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

Although these measures benefit from widespread public approval, they are not universally accepted. Critics have argued that preventing the sale of pure-bred animals at reputable pet shops will make the public more susceptible to scams.

“We’ve been sending home between 60 to 80 puppies a month, and we’ve been doing it for 25 years. Most of the people who come to us are looking for pure-bred dogs, which many local rescues don’t offer,” Sean Silverman, the owner of Puppy Love in Danbury, Connecticut, told the media earlier this year.

“If stores like ours are unable to provide the type of puppies that people want, then some 15 to 20 thousand people here in Connecticut will go on the internet, get a dog with zero regulations, and have it shipped, but will not get any guarantees, it’s just putting these people in a bad situations.”

(Internet) buyer beware…

Apparently that’s sort of what happened to a Connecticut couple who recently shared their experience with the press.

A few months after the death of their 13-year-old pug Penelope in October, 2018, the couple “spotted some adorable little pugs for sale online.” Then, after visiting the website and initiating a conversation with the purported breeders by text message, the couple agreed to purchase one female and one male puppy for $650 each.

The cost raised some concerns, according to published reports.

“I questioned as to why they were so inexpensive. He said it was because it was Texas and no one’s willing to pay that much money for pugs in the South as compared to the Northeast,” Amy Beaulieu told the media.

Her concern grew when the alleged breeders directed them to send a $400 deposit through their United bank cash app.

“Eventually, he called one time and I said I have some concerns about the texting and this sounds a little bit too good to be true. And he assured me, it’s fine we’re a family business. Everything’s safe,” said Beaulieu.

According to Beaulieu, that was the last contact she had with the alleged breeder.

“We were pretty angry about it and felt a little bit naïve too,” she said.

With no other recourse, Beaulieu made a police report, filed a claim with her bank and reported the matter to the Better Business Bureau.

Now here’s some good advice

According to the BBB,  the vast majority of sponsored pet ads may be generated by people with less than honest motives. Consequently, the consumer watchdog says the Internet “may not always be the best way to purchase a pet.”

Citing reports made through its “Scam Tracker,” the agency also says that since the beginning of 2019, Connecticut consumers claim to have lost nearly $6,000 in online puppy scams.

The BBB serving Connecticut has this advice to help protect consumers when it comes to choosing their next pet:

  • Don’t buy a pet without seeing it in person. Do an online search of the picture of the pet you are looking to purchase. If the same photograph is featured on multiple websites,  it may be a scam.
  • Do not honor any request for payment by money order/wire service. Using a credit card allows you to dispute the charges. Be wary of any seller who demands payment through other methods; and if you don’t feel comfortable, trust your instincts.
  • Be an educated consumer. Lookup the costs of puppies for the breed you are interested in adopting or purchasing. If someone is advertising a purebred dog for free or at a deep discount, it is probably too good to be true.
  • Don’t take the seller’s claims on face value. Visit bbb.org to verify an online breeder/seller’s reputation. Don’t be afraid to  ask the breeder for references and contact past customers.
  • Consider adopting or buying locally. Visit your local shelter and see if rescuing a dog (or cat) may be a viable option. This way, you can meet the dog or cat in need of a forever home.

At least this story has happy ending

Today, Beaulieu has two new pups — 4-month-old Milo and 12-week-old Apple. She bought them through the American Kennel Club.

And while there are lots of lessons to be learned from her story, she is not alone. You can learn more about how to avoid pet scams here.


Alexandra Bogdanovic is a paralegal and the owner/founder of In Brief Legal Writing Services. She is also an award-winning author and journalist whose interests include animal welfare and animal law. All opinions expressed in this forum are her own. Any information pertaining to legal matters is intended solely for general audiences and should not be regarded as legal advice.