You Don't Have to be Super Rich to Set Up a Trust for Your Pet BY KELLI BENDER•@KBENDERNYC

You’ve heard the tabloid news stories; late millionaires whose wills advise that all their worldly possessions be left to their pet. To some it may seem ridiculous, to others sensible. Regardless, the take away is the same: You can leave behind money, protection and personal possessions for your pets. What many don’t know is, you don’t have to be filthy rich to do it.  In fact, setting aside a little money and creating a plan for a beloved pet can help prevent them from being surrendered when you become too old or ill to care for them yourself any longer.  Reuters talked to attorney Rachel Hirschfeld, who created a pet protection agreement which you can download on Legal Zoom, detailing the reasonable steps you can take to help protect your furry friend’s future.  Hirschfeld advises, at minimum, including a line in your will about what you want to leave your pet, who should be responsible for their care and some notes on what your pet eats, who their vet is and their medical history. All of this prevents your pet from being surrendered to a shelter. If an animal is found with a deceased owner, and there is no family or instruction of what do next, the pet is considered abandoned and taken to a city shelter.

For those who want to do a little more for their pet, Hirschfeld says it’s best to visit an attorney to get information on how to leave funds behind.

  • “You go to an attorney and pay the price. Some people do it for $750. I’ve heard of more than $2,500,” she told Reuters. “Choose wisely. It’s not the cost that makes a good agreement; it’s the talent. I caution people to only go to a lawyer who has done them successfully. If you don’t know what you are doing, you can get sued.”  If you do choose to leave your pet part of your wealth, make sure the figure is in percentiles not dollars.
  • “Because if you say you are leaving $1,000.00, and there’s $1000.01 in the account (or less than the exact amount), you could have problems because then a court would have to decide what to do about the excess (or deficit). The goal is to keep it out of court,” the attorney said.
  • Thinking about planning for your pet’s future? A great place to start is with the Pet Protection document on Legal Zoom and on the ASPCA’s pet planning website.

Holiday Safety Tips

We are sharing some Holiday Safety Tips from the ASPCA to help keep your pets safe this holiday season!  The holiday season is upon us, and many pet parents plan to include their furry companions in the festivities. As you gear up for the holidays, it is important to try to keep your pet's eating and exercise habits as close to their normal routine as possible. Also, please be sure to steer pets clear of the following unhealthy treats, toxic plants and dangerous decorations.

Be Careful with Seasonal Plants and Decorations

   Oh, Christmas Tree: Securely anchor your Christmas tree so it doesn't tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pet. This will also prevent the tree water—which may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upset—from spilling. Stagnant tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria, and your pet could end up with nausea or diarrhea should he imbibe.

   Avoid Mistletoe & Holly: Holly, when ingested, can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. And many varieties of lilies can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested. Opt for just-as-jolly artificial plants made from silk or plastic, or choose a pet-safe bouquet.

   Tinsel-less Town: Kitties love this sparkly, light-catching "toy" that's easy to bat around and carry in their mouths. But a nibble can lead to a swallow, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. It's best to brighten your boughs with something other than tinsel.

   That Holiday Glow: Don't leave lighted candles unattended. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over. Be sure to use appropriate candleholders, placed on a stable surface. And if you leave the room, put the candle out!

   Wired Up: Keep wires, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments out of paws' reach. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock and a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus, while shards of breakable ornaments can damage your pet's mouth and digestive tract.

Avoid Holiday Food Dangers

   Skip the Sweets: By now you know not to feed your pets chocolate and anything sweetened with xylitol, but do you know the lengths to which an enterprising pet will go to chomp on something yummy? Make sure to keep your pets away from the table and unattended plates of food, and be sure to secure the lids on garbage cans.

   Leave the Leftovers: Fatty, spicy and no-no human foods, as well as bones, should not be fed to your furry friends. Pets can join the festivities in other fun ways that won't lead to costly medical bills.

   Careful with Cocktails: If your celebration includes adult holiday beverages, be sure to place your unattended alcoholic drinks where pets cannot get to them. If ingested, your pet could become weak, ill and may even go into a coma, possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.

   Selecting Special Treats: Looking to stuff your pet's stockings? Stick with chew toys that are basically indestructible, Kongs that can be stuffed with healthy foods or chew treats that are designed to be safely digestible. Long, stringy things are a feline's dream, but the most risky toys for cats involve ribbon, yarn and loose little parts that can get stuck in the intestines, often necessitating surgery. Surprise kitty with a new ball that's too big to swallow, a stuffed catnip toy or the interactive cat dancer.

Please visit our People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets page for more information.

Plan a Pet-Safe Holiday Gathering

   House Rules: If your animal-loving guests would like to give your pets a little extra attention and exercise while you're busy tending to the party, ask them to feel free to start a nice play or petting session.

   Put the Meds Away: Make sure all of your medications are locked behind secure doors, and be sure to tell your guests to keep their meds zipped up and packed away, too.

   A Room of Their Own: Give your pet his own quiet space to retreat to—complete with fresh water and a place to snuggle. Shy pups and cats might want to hide out under a piece of furniture, in their carrying case or in a separate room away from the hubbub.

New Year's Noise: As you count down to the new year, please keep in mind that strings of thrown confetti can get lodged in a cat's intestines, if ingested, perhaps necessitating surgery. Noisy poppers can terrify pets and cause possible damage to sensitive ears. And remember that many pets are also scared of fireworks, so be sure to secure them in a safe, escape-proof area as midnight approaches.

Saving TP

Today we want to share a short video, through a link to our Facebook page, of TP who was the recipient of aid through our foundation.  We love this video showing TP playing and full of life, such a miraculous change from when he was found.  Alone on the street, TP was suffering from a gunshot wound when Angela found him.  It was clear that this stray cat was in need of immediate medical attention.  Angela reached out to The Karen Hartwig Foundation to help fund the necessary surgery for TP.  After having TP’s leg amputated, Angela moved forward to adopt him and provide him with a loving ‘furever’ home!

We appreciate everyone who has donated and continues to support our mission.  TP’s story illustrates the difference we make one pet at a time!

Tips for Keeping Your Pet Safe During Warm Weather

As we prepare to kick off summer, The Humane Society of the United States reminds everyone to keep pets safe during the warm months ahead.

“Summer is the perfect time to enjoy being with your pets,” said KC Theisen, director of pet care issues at The Humane Society of the United States. “But it’s important to keep your pets’ ID tags current in case they get lost, and beware of dangers associated with the warm weather, like hot pavement, hot cars and garden chemicals. With just a few extra precautions, you and your four-legged family members can have a happy and safe sun-filled season.”

The HSUS offers a few tips to keep your pets safe and healthy during summer:

Safer summer outings

  •  While Fido may leap at the opportunity for a joy ride, leaving any pet—dog, cat, rabbit, etc.— alone in a parked car during warm weather can be deadly. On a warm day, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise rapidly to dangerous levels. On an 85 degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car, even with the windows cracked open, can reach 102 degrees within just 10 minutes, and after 30 minutes the temperature will reach 120 degrees. Even when the temperature outside is a balmy 72 degrees, the temperature inside your car can rocket to a fatal 116 degrees in less than an hour.
  • Your four-legged friend needs exercise too. However, exercising in the summer heat can be just as uncomfortable for your pet as it is for you. Take your walks in the early mornings or late evening, not in the heat of midday, and remember that hot pavement can burn the pads of your pet’s paws.
  • Keep your pet inside moving cars whenever you travel. A carrier is the safest place for your cat. Letting your dog travel with his or her head outside the open car window is dangerous—flying particles and debris can cause eye damage, and some pets have actually fallen out of moving vehicles. And dogs should never ride unsecured in the back of pickup trucks, regardless of how slow you are moving.


Environmental Hazards

Heartworms, ticks and fleas are more of a problem in warmer months and can cause serious health problems. Contact your veterinarian about products that will keep your pet healthy and parasite free.

  • Avoid using cocoa mulch, pesticides, fertilizers and other gardening products that can pose hazards to pets, and encourage your neighbors to do the same
  • Summertime can also bring major weather events like hurricanes and tornados. Remember, never leave your pets behind – if conditions aren’t safe for you, they are not safe for your pets. Visit for tips on disaster preparedness
  • Sunburn is a hazard for pets who spend time outdoors. Use a pet-safe sunscreen to protect your pet from the sun’s harming rays, which can cause skin cancer especially of the ears and nose
  • For pet owners in the East Coast, while cicadas may be a tempting treat for dogs, eating too many can cause digestive upset

Avoid losing your pets:

  • Check that your pet’s ID tags and microchip information are current, and that their collar is secure. Tags and microchips are life preservers in the event you lose a pet, and will allow whoever finds your pet to notify you quickly
  • Keep your feline friends safe and content indoors by providing them with cat grass and window perches that bring the great outdoors inside. Or consider screening in a porch or outdoor patio where you can allow your kitty some safe outdoor time. Also, cats can be trained to “walk” on a harness (never just use a collar and leash or tie your cat out), allowing you both to enjoy a little more leisure time in the yard
  • Common summer noises like fireworks and thunder may startle pets. For many animal shelters, the day after a town fireworks display is one of the busiest days of the year, as family pets become lost fleeing the sounds. Before a storm or fireworks display, bring your pet indoors or put him/her on a leash or secure tether

For more pet health and safety tips visit


Stop Dog Jumping

The following is an excerpt from the Petfinder Blog.

In January, Petfinder held a live Q&A on Facebook with pet trainers Andrea Arden and Mychelle Blake. Over the coming weeks we'll be posting some of our favorite questions and answers here on the blog. Have a pet question? Check back regularly for news about our next live Q&A!  Q: How can I stop my dog from jumping whenever I put my jacket or sweatshirt on? She thinks she's coming with me every time I leave the house. --Stacey B.A: Doorways are exciting places for most dogs. After all, this is where they go to head out of the house on fun walks and where you enter to come home after leaving them. So it's no surprise your dog is aroused when in this area. With any behavior issue, the first step is identifying the cause (we just did that!) and the second is using management to prevent the behavior from being practiced while you work on step three: teaching an alternative behavior which competes with the one you want to lessen. I would suggest a couple of techniques.

1  Use a high-value distraction: Have a toy stuffed with food your dog adores ready in a plastic bag in the fridge so you can get it right before you go to put your jacket on. Give it to your dog and odds are she will be enthralled with it to the exclusion of bothering you, as you get ready to leave.

2  Practice the "wait" command: It sounds like your pup needs to work on impulse- or self-control. Throughout the day, practice waiting to give her a treat or her food or anything else she wants until she sits without you asking.

3  Teach "sit" as an alternate behavior: Teaching your dog to offer a sit without you asking is a wonderful way to allow her to become a problem solver. This way, she will learn to default to sit whenever she wants something.

In the case of you at the front door, I suspect your dog wants your attention and for you to take her out to play. Well, now she has a way of asking nicely! Andréa Arden, CPDT Andrea Arden Dog Training New York, NY

Is Your Dog Digging?


Jacque Lynn Schultz, C.P.D.T., Companion Animal Programs Adviser. National Outreach


Do visitors whistle World War I tunes when laying eyes on the trenches in your backyard? Has your once lush green lawn begun to resemble a minefield? If so, your dog's digging problem has gotten out of control. But short of paving over the yard, is there a way to manage this passion for excavation? Absolutely!

Different dogs dig for different reasons, so before looking for solutions, it's important to determine why your dog digs. Many reasons for digging are often breed dependent. Heavy-coated spitz-type dogs, such as sled dogs and chow chows, dig cooling pits during hot weather to make themselves more comfortable. Earth dogs—those bred to tunnel underground to dispatch prey, such as short-legged terriers and dachshunds—are simply obeying their natural impulses as they dig up the yard to find gophers, moles, or other "vermin." Scent hounds (beagles, bassets, and coonhounds) and un-neutered males of any breed often dig along fence lines because the lures of small game, food, or females in heat are especially strong. And adolescent diggers (dogs ages six to 18 months) do so because they're loaded with youthful exuberance and have nothing to do. They dig because they're outside unaccompanied and have motive, means, and opportunity. The common denominator for all of these dogs, however, is that they dig because they find it rewarding.

By far the most common digger is the bored dog. Without anything to sustain his attention, the bored canine wiles away his time outdoors by excavating the yard. Why? Because it's there, and digging gives him something to do. A bored digger is often an adolescent but can be nearly any age. Social isolation can also trigger this behavior.

Two options are available to stop the digging—extinguish the need to dig or channel the behavior into an appropriate outlet. If your hot husky is digging cooling pits, keep him inside in the air conditioning during the hottest times of the day, or set up a refreshing kiddie pool for him. If your Jack Russell terrier is on mole patrol, call in a professional pest removal service. For the intact (un-neutered) male dog who digs to break free and consort with "the ladies," book him a date with the veterinary surgeon. The desire to roam is considerably diminished by neutering.

If your dog digs because he's bored or lonely isolated in the backyard, train him to behave when home alone, and keep him indoors. When you do give him backyard access, go out with him and throw a ball, toss a Frisbee, or practice obedience commands. Hide biscuits around the yard and encourage him to track them down. Go for a walk together. Invite neighborhood dogs over for a play date. When a dog is kept busy and mentally stimulated, he's less apt to dig.

If your fence cannot contain the yearning for freedom, fortify the barrier. Attach chicken wire to the fence a foot or so from the bottom, sink the wire six to 12 inches into the ground and curve it two to three feet in toward the yard. When your digger dog hits the chicken wire, it should stop him.

Dig or DieSome dogs, however, have such a strong innate desire to dig that little can dissuade them otherwise. Many earth dogs fall into this category. Even if your yard is vermin-free, they'll still dig because that's what they were born to do. These dogs need an outlet for their drives. A digging pit provides the perfect compromise—your dog can dig to his heart's content, while preserving your landscaping.

Choose a small patch in the yard where it's okay for your dog to dig. Circle the area with stones or other visual markers. Loosen up the soil and mix in a little sand. Hide a few toys, chewies, or biscuits in the soil to increase the rewards, then encourage the dog to dig in the pit. The first few times you let him out in the yard, make sure to accompany him so you can catch him in any mistakes and lure him over to dig in the appropriate spot. If your dog attempts to dig anywhere except in the pit, mark the incorrect behavior with "wrong," and call him over to the pit. Praise and reward him when he heads to the pit on his own. Fill in thepit when needed, and add goodies from time to time so that the pit will remain an attractive place for the dog to visit.

Once you've determined why your dog digs and have followed up by providing him with a cooling pool, a fortified fence, plentiful play, or a digging pit of his own, you can bid adieu to trench warfare and let the kids out in the yard once more—without fearing that they'll disappear into a canine-constructed pothole.