Just In Time For National Pet Day: My Favorite Quotations About Animals

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In my line of work, it seems like I’m always scrambling to meet one deadline or another. And lately I’ve been so busy writing for everyone else that I’ve barely had time to write my own blog.  In fact, that’s why I’m not posting this article until now.

But as the saying goes — better late than never. Or… putting a positive spin on it, maybe I should say, the early bird gets the worm. After all, National Pet Day isn’t until Thursday (April 11). And in honor of that occasion, I’ve decided to follow PARADE magazine’s lead and share some of my favorite quotations about pets.

My top 10 favorite quotations about cats

  1. “Time spent with cats is never wasted.” — Sigmund Freud, Austrian Psychoanalyst
  2. “You cannot look at a sleeping cat and feel tense.” — Jane Pauley, American Journalist
  3. “I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.” — Jean Cocteau, French Director

    Truth about cats.
    Truth. As seen at the cat adoption tent. Puttin’ on the Dog festival, 2017. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
  4. “I believe cats to be spirits come to earth. A cat, I am sure, could walk on a cloud without coming through.” — Jules Verne, French Author
  5. “Indeed, there is nothing on this earth more peaceful than a sleeping, purring cat.” Jonathon Scott Payne, American Author
  6. “Recruit your pet as a study partner. Cats are usually more than happy to do this—in fact, you may have trouble keeping them off keyboards and books—and dogs will often serve as well. Few things are more relaxing than having a warm, furry creature next to you as you study.” — Stefanie Weisman, American Academic Expert and Author
  7. Dogs come when they’re called; cats take a message and get back to you later.” —Professor Mary Bly
  8. “Books. Cats. Life is Good.” — Writer and artist Edward Gorey
  9. A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.” — Writer Ernest Hemingway
  10. “Authors like cats because they are such quiet, lovable, wise creatures, and cats like authors for the same reasons.” — Author Robertson Davies

My top 10 favorite quotations about dogs

  1. “There’s a saying. If you want someone to love you forever, buy a dog, feed it and keep it around.” — Dick Dale, American Musician
  2. “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself.” — Josh Billings, American Comedian
  3. “Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent.” — Milan Kundera, Czech Writer
  4. “Dogs don’t make judgments about physical appearance or abilities, and they don’t care how big your house is or what you do for a living. They care about the quality of your character and your capacity to love.” — Elizabeth Eiler, Reiki Master and Author
  5. “Dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love.” — Gilda Radner, American Actor/Comedian
  6. “The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.” — Andy Rooney, American Journalist
  7. “Dogs laugh, but they laugh with their tails.” — Max Eastman, American Author
  8. “You know, a dog can snap you out of any kind of bad mood that you’re in faster than you can think of.” Jill Abramson, American Newspaper Editor
  9. “If I could be half the person my dog is, I’d be twice the human I am.” — Charles Yu, Taiwanese-American Author
  10. “There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.” — Ben Williams, American Jazz Musician

My top 10 favorite quotations about pets

  1. “Sometimes losing a pet is more painful than losing a human because in the case of the pet, you were not pretending to love it.” — Amy Sedaris, American Author
  2. “Pets reflect you like mirrors. When you are happy, you can see your dog smiling and when you are sad, your cat cries.” — Munia Khan, Bangladeshi Poet
  3. “Sometimes, your pet picks you.” — Julie Wenzel, American Author
  4. “Pets understand humans better than humans do.” Ruchi Prabhu, Indian Author
  5. “Over the years I’ve come to appreciate how animals enter our lives prepared to teach and far from being burdened by an inability to speak they have many different ways to communicate. It is up to us to listen more than hear, to look into more than past.” — Nick Trout, British-Born Veterinarian and Author

    A dog available for adoption at Adopt-a-Dog. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
  6. “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” — Mahatma Gandhi, Indian Social Activist
  7. “Pets have more love and compassion in them than most humans.” — Robert Wagner, American Actor
  8. “You cannot share your life with a dog…or a cat, and not know perfectly well that animals have personalities and minds and feelings.” — Jane Goodall, British Anthropologist
  9. “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” — Anatole France, French Poet
  10. “If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.”  — James Herriot, British Writer

What about you? Are there any quotations about dogs, cats, or any pets that you like? If so, feel free to share them in the comments below.

The Best Anti-Aging Product… Is A Pet

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A long, long time ago…. back in the 16th century, the world-renowned explorer Juan Ponce de Leon set out to find the Fountain of Youth. He found Florida.

Since then, our ongoing quest for eternal youth through fitness, nutrition, serums and potions fueled the creation of multi-billion dollar global businesses — and yielded mixed results.

Now I won’t deny that a healthy lifestyle is key to combating the aging process. But if you’ve been looking for a “miracle in a bottle,” you can forget about it. If you are concerned about growing old gracefully all you need… is a pet.

Survey reveals importance of companion animals as we grow older

According to a recent article on webmd.com, the extrapolated data from latest National Poll on Healthy Aging indicates that more than half of American adults age 50 to 80 have a pet — and most of them say pet ownership has significant benefits.

There was too much excitement at Puttin' on the Dog for these little kittens!
We’re pooped! Hurricane Harvey kittens at Puttin’ on the Dog, 2017. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

Specifically:

  • 88 percent of survey participants said their pet helps them enjoy life
  • 86 percent said their pet makes them feel loved
  • 79 percent said their pet reduces their stress
  • 73 percent said owning a pet gives them a sense of purpose
  • 65 percent said it helped them connect with other people
  • 62 percent said it helped them stick to a routine

Furthermore, more than 60 percent of all survey participants said their pet helps them stay physically active, with nearly 80 percent of dog owners saying that is the case. Finally, nearly 60 percent of participants said “their pets help them cope with the physical and emotional symptoms of aging,” and more than 30 percent said having a pet “their pets take their mind off their pain.”

Then again…

However, not all of the survey participants have or want pets; and some of those who do voiced significant concern about pet ownership.

  • Roughly 42 percent of survey participants who don’t have pets said they “didn’t want to be tied down by the responsibility of owning an animal.”
  • 23 percent said they didn’t want a pet because of the associated expenses.
  • 20 percent said they “didn’t have time.”

Of those who have pets, more than 50 percent said pet ownership complicates travel and similar activities, and “one in five said pet care puts a strain on their budget.” Alarmingly, 6 percent reported falls or injuries caused by their pets.

“The vast majority of our respondents did experience positive effects on their health and well-being from their pets, but we did verify there are some less common negative effects associated with having pets as well,” said Mary Janevic, an assistant research scientist with the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

An important note about methodology

The findings are based on responses from a “nationally representative sample” of 2,051 adults, aged 50 to 80.  The University of Michigan’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation conducted the survey; and  the AARP and Michigan Medicine, the University of Michigan’s academic medical center sponsored it.

When It Comes To U.S. Pet Stats, Consider The Source

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Here’s the thing about “facts.” They can be manipulated — and it happens all of the time. An individual or group with a specific agenda either does a study or commissions one that will prove their point or advance their cause. And the sad thing is that most Americans take these “facts” on face value.

Of course there are always exceptions to the rule. Call me a cynic, a skeptic, or just an ex-journalist. But I don’t take anything on face value — even U.S. pet statistics. So I wasn’t all that surprised when I recently came across an interesting article questioning the validity of the data.

When the numbers don’t add up

The Washington Post article compared and contrasted U.S. pet ownership data for 2016 published by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

The APPA indicated that 68 percent of U.S. households owned some sort of pet that year, and that dogs (90 million) and cats (94 million) accounted for most of the pets. On the other hand, the AVMA reported only 57 percent of households had pets at the end of that year, and that the “overall pet population” during the time in question included included 77 million dogs and 58 million cats.

So what’s the big deal? Well, if you think about it, a lot of people base business and personal decisions on these statistics. As the Washington Post article notes, information about pet ownership and the types of people have is can potentially influence actions taken by pet companies, veterinarians, veterinary schools, not to mention millions of others.

Consequently, the use of vastly disparate data is bothersome to Andrew Rowan, a former chief executive of the Humane Society International and a longtime scholar of pet demographics. As he told the Post: “You can’t really make public policy decisions in the absence of data.”

There was too much excitement at Puttin' on the Dog for these little kittens!
We’re pooped! Hurricane Harvey kittens at Puttin’ on the Dog, 2017. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

The Post article also suggests that more reliable data is available. Specifically, it cites the Simmons National Consumer Study, which conducts annual household surveys.  For 2018, it found that  53 percent of U.S. households owned pets, including at least 77 million dogs and 54 million cats.

Another source of pet ownership identified in the Post story is U.S. Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey, which asked about pet ownership in 2013 and 2017. According to the Post, it “most recently reported that 49 percent of households included pets.”

How the Internet influences the outcome

In addition to examining the discrepancies in the APPA and AVMA data, the Post story addresses how these organizations came up with these numbers. Apparently the use of “opt-in” online surveys plays a significant part in the outcome — even though some experts have questioned their accuracy and recommended against their use.

Within this context, it is interesting to note that the APPA and AVMA  both relied on traditional mailed surveys until fairly recently, and the results changed significantly once they switched to Internet surveys.

An APPA representative quoted in the Post story confirmed that the organization “believes the switch from mail to web was responsible for the large increase,” and said “researchers sought to combat bias by tracking which types of people completed the survey.”

An AVMA representative also told the Post that its most recent report is “more sophisticated” than prior studies “because it targeted non-pet owners and weighted better for factors like geography and gender.”

An exercise in critical thinking

With all of that being stated, here’s how I evaluate any given set of “facts:”

  1. I consider who is presenting the “facts”
  2. I consider their agenda or objective
  3. I draw my own conclusions

It’s really not that hard. It’s simply an exercise in critical thinking.

Cat Fanatic Proves You Can Fight City Hall

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Here’s a question for you. Do you think the government (town, city, county or state) should be allowed to regulate how many pets you have?

Personally I have mixed feelings on the topic. On one hand I think it’s a great way to prevent hoarding — as long as the laws are actually enforced before things get out of hand. I also think it’s a good way to encourage responsible pet ownership — even if it can’t guarantee that people will treat their pets properly.

And then there’s the rebellious part of me. This is the part that says, “Wait just a minute. How dare you tell me how many pets I can have?”

Fighting city hall — and winning

Apparently a Utah man feels the same way. As recently reported in The Salt Lake Tribune, a West Valley City resident has two black cats and wanted to get another one. But when he went to the local animal shelter to get one, he learned that he couldn’t because of a city regulation limiting the number of cats and dogs residents could have to two per household.

Furr-911 rescues Hurricane Harvey kittens.
Hurricane Harvey kittens make an appearance at Puttin’ on the Dog festival, courtesy of FURR-911. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

When he learned the only way to change that was to convince the city to change the rules, he took the challenge seriously. And after six months of lobbying, his persistence finally paid off.

Earlier this month, the City Council unanimously passed an amended ordinance that “would allow for pet owners to apply for a permit to have up to four cats or dogs.” However, the restriction pertaining to the total number of pets is unchanged, meaning that residents still can’t have four cats and four dogs. An exception to the limit for kittens and puppies up to 4-months old is also unchanged.

A matter of personal preference

As it stands, I have had cats since I was 10. But the only time I had more than one was when my ex and I were married. And I’ll be honest. Having two cats in a small apartment was an adventure, especially since my cat was the alpha.

After I got divorced, Heals came home with me. She also moved to Virginia with me, and live there for three years before she died of cancer in 2007. I was still living in Virginia when I got Eli in 2008 and I’ve had him ever since. Sometimes I think about getting another one — but it wouldn’t be fair to him — or to me, for that matter.

Eli the cat.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot, Eli the cat.

For one thing, Eli is a “pit bull in a cat costume.” He is loyal, affectionate, and super-smart. But because he was abused before I adopted him, he is very easily triggered and acts accordingly. You’d think that he would mellow out as he gets older, especially since he’s been in a stable, loving environment for so long. As it turns out, that’s wishful thinking. Finding ways to address his redirected aggression is an ongoing process.

Secondly, having a cat is expensive. Or should I say, having this cat is expensive. There’s food, and cat litter, and vet bills. Oh, the vet bills. And because Eli is such a handful, I have to take him to the vet to have his claws clipped every three months. At $23 and change for each trimming, even that adds up.

Not to mention that I’m busy and I travel. So the bottom line for me is that — as much as I love cats — I don’t think I’ll ever have more than one at a time again.

How about you? Do you have pets? How many? How many is “too many?” I’d love to hear your thoughts, so feel free to comment.

New Dating App Caters To Dog People: What’s Not To Love?

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From what I’ve heard, dating in the digital world isn’t easy. For one thing, you never know who you’re really talking to online. It could be your soul mate. Or it could be a serial killer. You just never know.

Personally, I’m in no hurry to find out. For one thing, I am happily divorced after a colossal betrayal by the person I believed to be the love of my life (and I met him back in the good old days — before the Internet was even a thing). Secondly, I am way too busy to be bothered. And thirdly, I have a zero-tolerance policy for BS or stupidity of any kind. So you get the picture.

A dating app for dog people

Anyhow, I digress. The point of all of this is that I just came across a really cool article in my weekly quest for blog fodder. As reported by Narcity, a (relatively) new dating app called Dig App is about to launch in Miami.

Adopt-a-Dog volunteer with her charge at Puttin' on the Dog.
Take me home! A senior dog steals the show in the first parade at the Puttin’ on the Dog festival. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

So what’s the big deal? How is it different from all of the other dating apps out there? Well, this one specifically caters to dog people. That’s right. If you love dogs, you can use this app to connect with other like-minded singles.  As for the rest… Well, I’ll just skip the predictable puns about puppy love.

Details, details…

Created by a New Orleans-based company, Dig App is also available in New York City and other major markets including San Francisco, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles.

According to its website, Dig will soon be launching in Atlanta, Nashville and Denver, too.

Even though they created the app because they were “being duped by fake dog lovers too many times,” co-founders Leigh and Casey Isaacson stress that the app isn’t limited to people who have dogs. You just have to like them — and be honest about it.

“[Leigh and Casey] created Dig because being a dog lover isn’t just another box to check off on a long list of your attributes,” Dig’s website states. “It’s a way of life for a growing number of single people, and it’s crucial to know that up front when dating.”

Consequently, Dig allows users to connect with other singles who enjoy spending time with dogs even if they don’t have one, or search for dogs according to size. The app also allows users to “help plan dog friendly dates, learn tips and tricks, and connect dog lovers with local dog friendly businesses.”

Users must be at least 18 and those that have dog businesses are not allowed to promote them on their profiles. However, there are other options for such promotions on the app.

You can get Dig from the Apple Store or Google Play. You can also learn more here.

In my humble opinion

I must confess, this sounds intriguing, especially since I do love dogs. If I weren’t so busy (and so cynical), I may even be tempted to check it out. In the meantime, Eli and I have a very important question. Where’s the dating app for cat lovers?

Just a thought…

Addressing The Controversial Decision Not To Have Pets Vaccinated

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It’s something every pet parent has experienced at the veterinarian’s office. A dog in the lobby cowers at the end of its leash — shivering with its tail tucked between its legs — and stubbornly refuses to walk into the exam room. A cat in a carrier yowls to make its feelings known, and anyone brave enough to take a closer look is most likely confronted by the sight of a decidedly unhappy feline, complete with bristled fur, a lashing tail and bared teeth.

No, it’s not a secret that most of our pets hate going to the vet, especially if they need shots. Luckily for some, their human caretakers don’t seem to think vaccinations are necessary. But is that really a good thing? Well, it depends on who you ask.

To vaccinate or not: that is the question

Personally, I must confess that I wasn’t aware there was a controversy about pet vaccinations until I read about it on time.com. I mean, it never occurred to me not to have Eli’s shots done. And now that I am thinking about it, I have mixed feelings.

In Brief Legal Writing Services Mascot, Eli.
Eli The Cat. Photo By Alexandra Bogdanovic

On one hand, my life would be so much easier if I didn’t have to take him to the vet for shots. He is an indoor cat, so I could easily justify the decision not to. On the other hand, the thought of him getting some horrible disease — like rabies — is enough to make me glad I’m following the rules.

Even though Eli is an indoor cat,  his penchant for eating the mice he catches puts him at risk for picking up all sorts of nasty bugs — and passing them on to me. His penchant for biting when he’s feeling threatened, scared or mad, is also plenty of incentive to make sure his shots are up to date.

My dog doesn’t need any shots, thank you

But I digress. The point, according to the time.com article is that so-called “anti-vaxxers” are refusing to have their dogs vaccinated based on  misguided fears. Specifically, their opposition seems largely based on the belief that  vaccines are “unnecessary, dangerous and that they can cause a form of (canine) autism, along with other diseases.”

While it says evidence about opposition to pet vaccinations in the United States seems mostly anecdotal and highly localized, TIME reports that “anti-vax activists” in some states are pushing for the loosening of mandatory pet vaccination laws. TIME also reports that some states, including Connecticut, have entertained measures that would do so. So far, those measures have not garnered the support needed to become law.

Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, there is more concrete information about growing reluctance to have pets vaccinated. As cited by TIME, the PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report for 2018 indicates that:

  • One quarter of owners report that their dog wasn’t vaccinated when it was young.
  • The total number of young dogs that weren’t vaccinated is approximately 2.2. million.
  • The number of owners who say they didn’t have their young dogs vaccinated “has levelled [sic] off after a significant increase last year.”
  • Twenty-three percent of dogs “have not received regular boosters.”

Furthermore, 20 percent of owners said initial vaccinations are unnecessary; 19 percent cited cost; and 11 percent said they “haven’t thought about it.”  Dog owners gave similar reasons for not ensuring that their pets get annual shots. Fourteen percent stated that their vet “hasn’t recommended annual vaccinations,” and 13 percent said they disagree with the practice.

My cats don’t need any shots, either

Low vaccination rates in the U.K. are not unique to dogs, however. According to the same report:

  • Thirty-five percent of owners said cats never had an initial course of vaccines when they were young.
  • Forty-one percent of cats haven’t gotten annual shots.

The top reasons owners gave for failing to ensure that their cats were vaccinated as youngsters were cost, that they find it unnecessary, and that the cat has no contact with other animals. Owners also gave those reasons for failing to have their cats get annual shots. Sixteen percent of owners also said their cats didn’t get annual shots because the cats are too stressed out by vet visits.

“Clearly, more education is needed to impress the importance of regular vaccinations to prevent
potentially fatal diseases in cats. Equally, ways of reducing cat stress in veterinary clinics could also be a way of encouraging more cat owners to take their pet in for vaccinations,” the report states.

The bottom line

The bottom line is that our pets count on us to keep them safe and keep them healthy. As far as I’m concerned, making sure they get their shots is a crucial part of that. But that’s just my opinion. What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Connecticut Cat Tax Proposed

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It’s official. I’m speechless. Completely. Utterly. Totally. Speechless. Seriously. I’ve got nothing.

And for the record, it takes a lot to put me in this state. I’m never at a loss for words. But I just can’t wrap my head around the Connecticut Cat Tax. l’m serious. Connecticut Democrats want to impose a “cat tax” on those of us who have felines and are still “lucky” enough to live here (sarcasm fully intended).

I read all about it on the Hartford Courant’s website earlier this week. At first I thought it had to be fake news. Unfortunately I checked the Connecticut General Assembly’s website, and it’s true.

What a catastrophe

At this time, raised S.B. 999 is officially known as An Act Concerning The Fee For Adopting a Dog, Cat or Other Domestic Animal From a Municipal Pound and Requiring the Licensing of Such Cats and Other Domestic Animals. 

I kid you not. This is what they decided to call it. Why didn’t they just call it a cat tax? It would have been so much easier that way.

In Brief Legal Writing Services Mascot, Eli.
Eli The Cat. Photo By Alexandra Bogdanovic

At any rate, the stated purpose of this proposed “Act” is to “increase the fee paid by anyone adopting a dog from a municipal shelter and to require the payment of such fee for anyone adopting a cat or other domestic animal from a municipal shelter and to require the licensing of such cats and other domestic animals.”

You can find the link text of the proposed bill here. In the meantime, I’ll just hit the “high points.”

As currently proposed:

  • Any Connecticut resident that  purchases a dog, cat or other domestic animal as a pet will have to pay a $15 fee to the municipal animal shelter or dog pound in order to get a license and tag for it from the town clerk.
  • Anyone that purchases a dog, cat or other domestic animal as a pet in Connecticut will also be required to cover the cost the municipality incurred, if any, to spay or neuter and vaccinate the dog [sic], provided such charge is not more than $150.
  • Any Connecticut resident that owns or keeps a dog that is at least six months old, except those  kept under a kennel license as provided by law; and anyone that owns a cat or other domestic animal adopted from a municipal animal shelter or dog pound  will be required to have the animal licensed in the town clerk’s office in the town where it is kept, on or before June 30th, each year after it turns six-months old.
  • The annual licensing fee for each qualifying neutered or spayed animal would be $10.
  • The annual licensing fee for each unaltered qualifying animal would be $15.
  • In addition to the licensing fee there would be a $2 fee for issuing a license and tag as allowed by law.
  • Anyone required to comply with the new law who failed to do so would be required to pay the appropriate license fee, the town clerk’s fee and a $1 penalty for each month or portion of a month that the animal remains unlicensed.

Why a cat tax simply won’t work…

The public got a chance to have its say at an Environment Committee hearing held March 11.

In a letter to the committee, Ellington resident Diana Bump voiced numerous reasons for her opposition.

“Requiring cats to be licensed will deter adoption and/or barn cat owners from taking in cats and also lead to more euthanizing of shelter cats. Licensing cats will cost more to the state implement than it will actually receive in cat licensing fees, no doubt,” Bump wrote. “Licensing cats will not incentivize spaying/ neutering either as the main reason people do not spay/neuter is because of costs and adding licensing fees will make it even more unaffordable.”

Bump also pointed out that most indoor/outdoor cats wear so-called “break away” collars, which are designed to come off if the cat gets it caught on something, so tags could be lost easily. The use of non-break away collars is unsafe, she added. Finally Bump also noted that any noise made by the tags could alert predators to a cat’s location, putting it at risk.

Hamden resident David Malicki put it even more succinctly.

“As most shelters are often overflowing with animals for adoption, I find this proposed House Bill 999 absolutely sub-human,” he wrote. “This bill should not be even considered for a motion. This bill should have never been proposed. Shame on all of you for this shortsighted proposal.”

Animal advocates also oppose the measure as proposed.

So now it’s your turn. What do you think? Is this a good idea, or not? Let’s talk about it. Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Estate Planning With Your Pets In Mind

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Good morning, everyone! Happy Monday! Are you ready for some thought-provoking questions to start your week? Well, ready or not, here they are.

What will happen to your pet(s) if something happens to you? Who will take care of them? Where will they live? Will they end up in a familiar place with people they know? Or will they end up in a shelter, where they will be left to an uncertain fate? Have you thought about it? Do you have a plan?

You don’t? Why not? Make one. Put it in writing. Share it with your friends and family. Talk to your lawyer about it. Seriously. It’s important!

Runner-up in one of the contests at the 30th annual Puttin' on the Dog festival.
Second place? What do you mean I got second place? The indignity of it all. Puttin’ on the Dog, Greenwich CT. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

Estate planning

Proper estate planning is a proactive rather than a reactive process. As such, it allows you  to  prepare for unanticipated events, instead of simply reacting to them. Specifically, it allows you to create a strategy that can be shared with your family and used in the event of a serious, catastrophic or fatal injury or illness. In other words, this is a way to ensure your wishes — including those about the care of your pet(s) — are documented and followed if/when you are no longer capable of expressing them.

The last will and testament

When most people think about estate planning, making a will is the first thing that comes to mind. This is because a valid will is a legal document required for the settlement of your affairs and distribution of your estate. Or, to put it in plain English, it is a legal document in which you specify who gets what after you die, and designate someone (called an executor) to make sure your wishes are carried out accordingly.

According to The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), you should keep a few of things in mind if you’re considering including provisions pertaining to the care of your pet(s) in your will. Specifically, you should be aware that:

  1. Your will only takes effect upon your death.
  2. It takes time to sort everything out (determine if the will is valid and so on).
  3. Other complications could arise, especially if someone decides to contest (challenge) the will.

“Even determining the rightful new owner of your pet can get delayed. In other words, it may take a long time before your instructions regarding your pet’s long-term care can be carried out,” the HSUS says. “This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should not include a provision in your will that provides for your pet. It just means that you should explore creating additional documents that compensate for the will’s limitations.”

Setting up a trust

A trust is another type of legal tool used in the estate planning process. It allows you to allocate funds for a specific purpose, such as the care of your pet, if something happens to you. It also allows you to choose someone to manage the trust.

According to the HSUS, the benefits of using a trust in addition to a will are:

  1. It ensures your pet’s immediate needs are met.
  2. It can be used while you are sill alive (in the event of illness/injury).
  3. You can decide when it goes into effect.
  4. It allows for the exclusion of some funds from probate.

“There are many types of wills and trusts,” the HSUS points out. “Determining which is best for you and your pet depends on your situation and needs.”

The organization also stresses the importance of getting proper legal advice from “an attorney who both understands your desire to provide for your pet and can help you create a will and/or trust that best provides for him.”

Because there may be different rules depending on where you live, the HSUS recommends that you and your lawyer verify that the trust established  for the benefit of your pet(s) is valid and enforceable in your state.

Power of attorney

Finally, a third type of legal document, called a power of attorney, allows someone else someone else to handle some or all of your affairs for you while you are alive. As such, they can be written to take effect upon your physical or mental incapacity and remain in effect after you become incapacitated.

They are simpler than trusts and may include provisions  allowing the person authorized to handle your affairs  “to take care of your pets, expend money to do so, and even to place your pets with permanent caregivers if appropriate.”

Short-term solutions

Of course, the strategies used in estate planning are generally devised to address future events. An HSUS fact sheet, called “Providing for Your Pet’s Future Without You,” details not only the issues we have already discussed, but other ways to ensure your pets are taken care of in an emergency.

Its recommendations include but are not limited to:

  • Identifying at least two responsible friends or relatives who agree to serve as temporary caregivers if you have an emergency. Giving them with keys to your home; feeding and care instructions; the name of your veterinarian; and information about the permanent care provisions you have made for your pet.

• Ensuring that your neighbors, friends, and relatives know how many pets you have and the names and contact numbers of the individuals who have agreed to serve as emergency caregivers. Emergency caregivers should also know how to contact each other.

• Carrying a wallet “alert card” that lists the names and phone numbers of your emergency pet caregivers.

• Posting removable “in case of emergency” notices on your doors or windows specifying how many and what types of pets you have. Doing so will let first responders know that you have pets so they can act accordingly.

• Posting a removable notice with relevant information to the inside of your front and back doors.

The HSUS fact sheet also addresses related concerns, such as the importance of making formal arrangements for your pet’s care if something happens to you; keeping in contact with the designated caregivers; entrusting your pet’s care to a specific organization; and more.

You can find the details here.

It is sad, but it is not necessarily inevitable

As a volunteer at a local animal shelter, I became aware of several cases in which dogs were surrendered because their owners could no longer care for them. In a few of those cases, I believe we had an agreement that the dog would be returned to us in such circumstances. In other cases, the animals were simply surrendered by family members who were unable to care for them and had nowhere else to turn.

In any case, it was always sad. But it does not have to be inevitable.


Disclaimer: The preceding article is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be considered as legal advice. For legal advice, including questions and concerns about estate planning; animal law; and providing for your pets in the event of illness, injury or death, consult a qualified attorney in your area.

On Pet Parents Fur Babies And The Joys Of Cleaning Cat Puke

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

Just for the record, Eli is not my “son.” He is not my “fur baby,” and I am not his “mother.” No, Virginia, I am not a “pet parent.”

That is not to say I don’t love him. Of course I do. That I love him enough to take a bullet for him is well documented in this forum. That I would also beat the living hell out of anyone who even thought about harming one fur on his incredibly adorable little head should also go without saying.

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

That’s because Eli is a cat. Sure, he is my constant companion, my best friend and my therapist, all wrapped up into one really cute bundle of fur. And yes, he is definitely part of the family. As such, he counts on me and my mother (his people) to provide food, water, a clean litter box, medical care (although he hates the vet), shelter and protection, among other things.

I can’t speak for my mother, but personally I am happy to oblige.

The joys of cleaning up cat puke

Sometimes. No. Make that most of the time. To be brutally honest, there is one aspect of being Eli’s No. 1 person that I really don’t enjoy. I mean, I know he needs one, but I really don’t appreciate that he appointed me sanitation chief. In this capacity, I am not only responsible for cleaning out and changing the litter in his boxes, but I am also solely responsible for cleaning up after him whenever he pukes.

This usually happens when he’s been out on the deck, bingeing on the grass in the containers we leave out for him. And since we have a lot of hardwood floors in our house, there are times when the clean up is relatively easy. And then there are times — like Monday morning — when, for some strange reason, he decides not to puke on a hard surface.

On Monday morning, I came up to my loft/home office to find that my dear, sweet, lovable, adorable cat, whom I love more than life, had puked all over one end of an extremely expensive futon. Needless to say, I was not happy about it.

At least kids learn to clean up after themselves

After spending at least half an hour gathering supplies, cleaning and scrubbing, I finally got rid of the mess. And I found myself thinking that maybe — just maybe — there are some similarities between taking care of a cat and taking care of a child.

“I challenge anyone to tell me that taking care of a cat isn’t like taking care of a little kid,” I told my mother. “I seem to spend a lot of time cleaning up poop and vomit.”

“Yes, she said. But at least children evolve. Animals stay fairly constant.”

She’s got a point. I mean, Eli is brilliant. But unless he suddenly, miraculously sprouts opposable thumbs, learns to walk on his hind legs and gains even more self-awareness, he won’t be cleaning up after himself anytime soon.

But that’s OK. I love him anyway.

Well This Is Certainly Long Overdue

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

Hello, everyone! Yes, it is me. Really. I am alive.

It’s hard to believe it’s already the end of January and I haven’t done a post since last year. In fact, you haven’t heard from me since last April!

The good news is, everything is OK. As a matter of fact, it has been great. Business has been booming here at In Brief Legal Writing Services… and that means I’ve been busy. Very busy. And that keeps me out of trouble… allegedly.

The bad news is that I have been so busy doing legal content writing (and other assignments) for my clients that I haven’t had time to keep up with my own website. I know, I know. It’s not good at all.

New year, new personal and professional goals

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

But, it’s a new year, so of course I’ve set new goals — for myself and for my business. That means a lot of exciting things will be happening here at In Brief Legal Writing Services. Hopefully! No. Make that, definitely! In no specific order, here’s what I’ve got planned for 2019 and beyond:

  1. Greater engagement with clients and prospective clients;
  2. New and better website (upgrades);
  3. Regular blog posts and more interaction with you guys (I promise);
  4. Growth, growth and more growth;
  5. Having plenty of fun along the way.

In terms of content, I still plan on writing about my passions — namely animal and criminal law. In other words, I will continue to keep you apprised of all of the latest developments that may be of interest to all of the “pet parents” out there. As things stand right now, I plan on doing at least a couple of posts per week, and I expect you guys to hold me accountable if I don’t.

Having said all of that, I’m also counting on you guys to let me know what you think about these posts. If you like them, please let me know. If you don’t like them, that’s okay, too. Be honest about what you want to see, what you don’t want to see, and why. I am open to suggestions.

New year, same mascot!

Eli the cat.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot, Eli the cat.

One thing that hasn’t changed — and I’m hoping that it won’t change anytime soon — is that my best buddy, Eli the cat, is still the mascot here at In Brief Legal Writing Services. I’m happy to say he is still his happy, relatively healthy and feisty self. Of course, he is also a year older, having turned 13 on January 1 (his official unofficial birthday), but he is also as handsome as ever, so I’m sure I’ll be using lots of cute pictures with these posts.

And on that note, I’d better run. Until next time…