Pets: Dental Care, First Aid and Victoria's Secret?

Victoria's Secrets
By Jackie Loohauis-Bennett of the Journal Sentinel

Dog trainer Stilwell has tips to share with owners

On TV, Victoria Stilwell drives a cherry-red convertible and wears stiletto boots and black leather to bring discipline to the dog homes she visits.

She's Kitten with a Leash.

But Milwaukee saw a less-sexy Stilwell when the world-famous dog trainer appeared at the Pabst Theater on May 12 in her "It's Me or the Dog" show.

"That look was for the British. They wanted a tough, leather chick that would bring in the eyes, but that's not me. I'm cutting back on the leather when I'm on tour," Stilwell says with a laugh while taking a break from filming her Animal Planet show.

What pet-lovers in Milwaukee will see is a trainer extraordinaire dressed in cowboy boots and jeans ready to solve pet problems from biting to "weeing in the kitchen." She'll use guest shelter pooches from the Wisconsin Humane Society to demonstrate reward-based training.

"And we'll have funny videos and talk about animal psychology and how to build a better relationship with your dog and build a language of understanding with your pet," she says.

Although audience members must leave their own dogs at home, Stilwell wants Milwaukeeans to bring her lots of questions.

"I love to make my talk interactive and fun. I don't stand up and preach at people. I think people will be really entertained."

Her fans already are. "It's Me or the Dog" is a smash cable hit, showing Stilwell almost magically bringing peace to troubled animal houses. Using a healthy dollop of double-entendre ("There are three of you in this relationship: you, your husband and your dog.") she stops aggression here and stops possessiveness there. And that's just with the humans.

The dogs she handles with a mixture of compassion and skill. Pongo the biting Dalmatian learns manners. Stains the foodie quits cupcakes.

A former actress, Stilwell got into dog training years ago when she was between jobs.

"I've always loved dogs, and after university I started a dog-walking business. Then one day I met a man who started talking about dog training, and that was it." Stilwell spent years working with British dog trainers and behaviorists.

The results are positive-reinforcement techniques far different from those of "Dog Whisperer" Cesar Millan, a trainer who makes Stilwell's fur stand on end.

"The difference between us is why he hates me and I despise his training methods," she says. "He will put the dog in an alpha roll and suppress its emotion, and it looks like the dog submits to him. But actually what happens is that the dog struggles and fights and then shuts down emotionally and physically. It's what they do to survive in the wild. That's very, very dangerous. You want an aggressive dog to warn you, but with Millan they learn not to express their emotions  . . .  and it puts humans at risk."

Instead, Stilwell uses treats and clickers to address The Inner Dog.

"I say to them, 'You're a bit of a bully who's insecure. I'm going to make you more confident.' Positive training changes the way the dog feels."

And after the show, she says, "I want people to go home and try this for themselves. People will know what their dogs are really saying to them."

Her five rules for well-behaved owners
Dog trainer Victoria Stilwell has seen them often: "The Five Mistakes People Make When Adopting a New Dog." She talks about them here:

1. Owners must do their research before getting a dog, she says, so they choose an animal that's suitable for their lifestyle (breed, energy level, size, etc). Many of these dogs "end up in shelters as owners are not prepared for what it takes to raise a dog successfully."

2. "New owners often lavish a new dog with loads of attention just after it comes into the home, only to back off after the novelty has faded. This can create problems such as separation anxiety for the dog and cause the dog's ability to cope with everyday life to be compromised by a sudden lack of attention."

3. "Owners like quick fixes, especially if their dogs are starting to act up. Behavioral problems such as excessive jumping, barking, destructive behavior and aggression are all very common, but can become increasingly hard to control if not dealt with appropriately and in a timely manner. Only a small percentage of owners will seek help from a trainer, while many others choose to ignore the behavior or attempt to deal with it themselves. This is another reason why dogs are relinquished to shelters. When owners don't commit the necessary time or refuse to utilize easily available resources and give their dogs the best chance, they often become convinced that it is the dog's fault and end up returning it to the shelter or breeder."

4. "Owners have high expectations for their dogs. For example, it is socially unacceptable for a dog to growl or pick a fight with another dog during a walk, and owners will often berate a dog for demonstrating this kind of behavior. However, when you think about it, we humans sometimes don't like the look of everyone we see on the street, and there are some people that we wish we could avoid. We expect our dogs to be sociable with every dog or person they meet, which is just unrealistic and puts too much pressure on our canine companions."

5. "Lack of exercise and feeding a poor diet can have serious health implications for a pet. Canine obesity is a huge problem in the United States. Dogs don't get fat by themselves, and owners need to step up and give dogs the exercise and sensory stimulation they need in order to be successful in a domestic environment."

7 Solutions to Pets' Landscape Destruction
(Nashville) Tennessean /

Want to make your yard space usable in spite of destructo doggy? Check out these tips.

Problem: Burn marks.

Cause: Pet pee that messes with the soil's pH and kills the grass.

Solution: Hosing off the area shortly after your pet relieves itself will dilute the urine's effect. Raking a small layer of compost over the mark also will help balance the soil biology. If you are looking to revive already dead areas, you may want to reseed.

To avoid an array of dead spots, teach your pet to potty in one area, which you can maintain.

Problem: Garden melee.

Cause: Playful dogs that like to get into garden beds.

Solution: Consider a buried electric dog wire and electrical collar. For a few hundred dollars, you can send a small electrical shock to the dog. These are humane and often very practical.

A physical fence also will keep most dogs out of vegetable gardens and flowerbeds. One style is wire mesh fastened to steel posts.

You could also consider raised planters made of something substantial like brick or stone. Dogs typically will not jump up and into beds that are raised.

Problem: Worn ruts.

Cause: Pets who take the same path around the yard again and again.

Solution: Putting a decorative pathway along their favorite routes and landscaping around it is a good way to beautify these areas. Cover pathways with soft materials like pine needles. Uncomfortable paving might send your pet on a new route. Lining the path with raised beds or ornamental fencing will help keep the pups on the right route.

Problem: Yard becomes dirt pit.

Cause: Heavy paw traffic, particularly from multiple pets left out in the yard to romp, can wear away grass in much-used areas.

Solution: Certain types of grass, like Bermuda, are sturdier than others. However, unless you have your entire yard re-sodded, which can be expensive, you are still going to have to wait for the new stuff to grow. That may mean putting a temporary (but pet-proof) barrier around the seeded area for a some time, or limiting and monitoring your pets' outdoor time until the area is ready.

Problem: Holes everywhere.

Cause: A curious or bored dog that digs for entertainment and mental stimulation.

Solution: Chicken wire often will deter the most determined dog. Bury a bit, making sure to keep the edges deep so the dog doesn't pull the whole thing up, and cover it up. If it's in a garden, a layer of dirt or mulch will do the trick. Some choose to forgo grass altogether and cover chicken wire with gravel or wood chips.

You also can use bricks along with dirt to fill the holes. Most dogs will get discouraged after scraping their nails on the bricks.

Problem: Scratched-up fencing.

Cause: True boredom.

Solution: First, dog-proof the barrier door. Replace an easy-to-open gate latch with something sturdier. Slide bolts and chains are good locking solutions.

If your dog is digging under the fence, lay down chicken wire from the bottom of the fence to a few feet underground as an extra provision. If you don't want to dig yourself, you also can line the bottom of the fence with concrete blocks or paving stones that would be difficult to displace.

Problem: Bushes and plants become snacks.

Cause: Canines who like to chew.

Solution: It's tough to train a dog not to do this. As such, the best means of defense may be a fence. A decorative trellis could deter a dog from approaching the plants. Buried electrical barriers also work without having to hide the landscaping.

If you forgo a fence, thorned and prickly bushes such as rosebushes will discourage some dogs. Junipers also tend to deter dogs with their pungent odor and unappealing flavor.

Many pet owners are concerned about putting plants in their gardens that will be harmful if eaten. The Animal Poison Control Center offers a complete list of potential dangers at aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/plants.

Save 5% on Pet Supplies Orders Over $75

Pets for Kids – “10 Essential Reality Checks!”
by Lesley Munnings

Essential Reality Check No. 1 – The Type of Pet for kids

The type of pet you can take into your household will depend on a whole host of things such as follows: How much will the pet costs be - not just to buy - but to care for on a daily basis? The ages of your kids - a two year old child will probably not be able to handle a pet gently and certainly won’t be able to care for the pet….. What size of pet does your child want? - What space will be needed? A hamster does not take up much space but guinea pigs, ferrets and rats need much larger cages. How much time do your kids and you as a family have to give to the pet? Will your family be safe with the pet?

Will the pet be safe with your family? If you have a larger pet such as a dog, cat, or goat what effects will it have on your family, friends and neighbours? How will your pet be cared for during your holidays. Will your family be able to cope with the eventual death of a pet? Some pets will sleep most of the day and be awake at night. Hamsters can be very noisy at night! If your child wants a dog you will need to look into the breed, size and exercise needs of the dog. Do you already have another pet, what effect will it have on that pet. For instance will your dog be ok with a cat or rabbit or bird? .

Essential Reality Check No. 2 – True Costs of Pets for Kids

Some pets are very cheap to buy for instance hamsters, guinea pigs, goldfish. gerbils, fancy rats, fancy mice and rabbits and even ferrets. You will still need to consider: The cage set up ( this can be very expensive when looking at the cage sizes that most pets need) in fact they need the largest cage you can manage Food costs per week Bedding Vets bills if your pets become ill. e.g. Ferrets need a yearly injection against canine distemper. Holiday care - you will need to pay for this of course if you cannot rely on friends and family.

Bigger pets such as goats, and dogs and pedigree cats are far more expensive to buy initially, some costing hundreds of pounds. You will need to consider: Bedding and a cage (if buying one for your dog or cat) Leads and collars for dogs. Food bills Vets bills (dogs should have yearly check ups with a vets) Toys Holiday care (kennels can be very expensive) Flea treatment Ongoing veterinary costs if your pets becomes chronically ill.

Essential Reality Check No. 3 – Ages of your Kids

As the parent or carer you will need to decide if your child is old enough to handle and care for a pet. How often have parents heard the cry “oh but we promise we’ll take it for walks everyday” Or “we’ll clean it out mum, we promise”. How will you feel in a years time when you find yourself caring for the pets because the kids are busy with friends or away on a school trip or inundated with homework or just plain bored with the poor thing You will need to decide on a pet that is suitable for the age of your kids. For instance in most cases it would not be wise to buy a hamster for a two year old child who is still adapting to the world around them and may not know or be able to handle the hamster gently.

Do you want to give your kids some responsibility in caring for an animal. Some kids are very responsible and will be able to manage this. Other kids, well the sight of a baby animal is just too appealing, after all who can resist a cute puppy or kitten or baby hamster? At first you may need to help your kids, as caring for a pet is a very responsible job. As a parent or carer you will always need to oversee a pet’s care.

,Essential Reality Check No. 4 – The Space Required

Even small pets for kids such as guinea pigs, fancy rats and ferrets need a lot of cage space for a happy life. They will need the biggest cages you can find space for. These pets also need space to exercise out of the cage. Cats take up very little space, as do small breeds of dogs. Dogs will need a decent sized garden as well as walks to keep them well exercised.

Essential Reality Check No. 5 – Time for your Pets

Do you and the family have time for a pet. For smaller pets for kids you will need to have them out of the cage and being handled daily for at least 2 hours a day. Do you have time to clean out your pet at least once or twice a week, or even daily? Some pets will certainly need the toilet corner of their cage cleaned more often to avoid a foul smelling cage and pet. Water bottles and food bowls will need cleaning and refilling every day.

Will you be able to walk your dog at least once a day? - dependent on the breed some need more! Are you willing to look after your pets for the many years some can live? (From 18 months to 2 years for a mouse up to 15 years for a dog) If you are out at work all day and the kids are at school all day your pets will need and will demand attention when you return home

Essential Reality Check No. 6 – Your Pet and Family Safety

You will always need to ensure your kids safety when they are spending time with any pets for kids. Even little pets can bite and leave a wound. Dogs should not be left unattended with your kids as they are unpredictable. Even a faithful dog will bite and even attack a child if they are in pain or afraid. It happens rarely - but it does happen. You will also need to ensure your pets safety: Is your child able to handle a pet safely without hurting it. Is your pet safe with any other pets in the home? - if you have young children and a dog …. you will need to make sure the dog cannot escape because a door is accidentally left open.

If you have a dog you need to ensure visitors safety as you can be sued if your dog bites someone on your property (or even off your property) Make sure that when pets are having free time out of cages that: Other pets cannot hurt them They cannot chew electrical leads They cannot fall into toilets or baths of water. They cannot escape through gaps in walls or floors They cannot get outside without supervision

Essential Reality Check No. 7 – Effects on Family and Neighbours

The whole family needs to be in agreement if you are getting pets for kids. Pets can be noisy and messy having an effect on family living. What effect will a pet such as a dog have on Granny who suffers with an allergy - will that mean she cannot come to visit anymore? If you get a dog will it bark and howl when you leave them for any length of time and will this annoy your neighbours. Will the dog bark when your neighbours are in their own garden. How will your neighbours take to having your pet cat mess in their garden? You will need to keep your yard free of dog mess to ensure it does not smell -particularly in summer months.

Essential Reality Check No. 8 – Holidays and Care for Pets

If you have pets for kids what will happen to them during your holiday times. Do you have family or friends who can care for your pets while you are away. If not you will have to pay for your pets care. This will be expensive for dogs, cats and larger animals. Even for little pets, holiday care can be expensive.

Essential Reality Check No. 9 – Loss of a Pet and Grief

Some children are really sensitive and will be distraught when their beloved pet eventually passes away, or is lost in some way. This is especially distressing if the pet has died as a result of an accident or illness. How will you manage this? The kids will need to grieve, grieving is a healthy part of a loss reaction. We can suffer losses every day in a small way such as not getting something we want, this causes a loss reaction and part of the healing for this is grief. If your child or other family member struggles with the grieving then look at the following and see if it applies. The grieving process has seven stepping stones through which people move. Your family member may not go through them in order or spend long on any one.

The stepping stones are: Shock, Denial, Guilt, ,Anger, Depression Bargaining, Acceptance Your child may want another pet this is called bargaining and is one of the stepping stones through the grief process. If your child cannot have another pet, break down the hidden losses that the death of their pet has caused. Could there be a loss of your child’s self worth or self esteem. Have they lost their only companion. Has your child lost the only one who listened to them. By chatting try to find out how your child is feeling and help them to work out their losses and then work through to acceptance by doing some healthy bargaining.

Would your child be able to regain their sense of worth or self esteem another way? Perhaps helping out with a friends pet for instance. For some children it may be helpful to have a burial service, so they can say goodbye properly. (My son kept some hair from his beloved dog) Our kids have managed the deaths of their pets really well and have gone on to have other pets, for other kids though it has more of an effect so you will need to decide when or if to replace your child’s pet.

Essential Reality Check No. 10 – Pets for Kids are GOOD FUN!!!

Pets for kids are for the most part a great addition to the family.. They are often good company for your kids especially if the kids are lonely. Kids can learn a lot from caring for pets and by having pets even when they are lost naturally. Dogs can encourage the family out to get exercise as they walk the dog. All our kids love their pets and they are an important part of the family. So whatever pet you decide upon have fun and enjoy.

Lesley and her husband are parents of 18years to four great kids and co authors of
For more information on pets visit best-pets-for-kids

Keeping Your Pet in a Recession
By Laurie Rich - Columbia News Service

When Deborah Thomas took her sickly 10-year-old cat, Armand, to a New York City vet last month, she learned the tan-and-white shorthair had kidney disease and needed to be hospitalized for three days. But the real shock came when she got a bill for $2,000.

"I've never spent $2,000 on anything in my life," says Thomas, a part-time music teacher in the New York public schools.

Now, in addition to chipping away at this amount every month on her credit card, she's paying $50 a week for medication to maintain the cat's health. But she doesn't know how much longer she can afford to give him this kind of care.

With the U.S. economy in shambles, those who used to be able to care for their pets financially are now drowning in other expenses. They're stuck with tough decisions that pit their own welfare against that of their dog or cat, forcing many to abandon their pets.

But animal lovers can find ways to cut costs and minimize the burden so they don't have to say a permanent farewell to Felix or Fido, say veterinarians and rescue organizations. They all recommend doing something that's often embarrassing for those in dire straits — asking for help.

The economic downturn has overwhelmed animal shelters nationwide. Some 84 percent of the 11,000 shelters and rescue groups affiliated with say they have received more animals because of the downturn for reasons including foreclosures,
layoffs and "general financial difficulty."

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals projected in February that from 500,000 to 1 million cats and dogs were at risk of becoming homeless.

The threat of overcrowding has spurred some shelters to find ways to help those at risk of abandoning their pets.

King Street Cats, a small, independent cat shelter in Alexandria, Va., started a pet food pantry and has helped board some pets until their owners can take care of them again. Keeping a pet in an owner's home saves the group money.

Bettie Stephens called King Street in January to give away her two cats — Duckie and A.J., after being forced to vacate her house and move into an apartment that didn't allow animals. Stephens had been put on indefinite unpaid leave from her government job and couldn't afford her mortgage.

When she told shelter workers about her situation, they said they'd board the cats for free if she thought she could take them back soon. After relinquishing her pets, Stephens visited every weekend, which is when the shelter is open.

At the end of March, Stephens started working again. She moved back to her home recently and picked up the cats the next day.

For those looking to cut costs, there are ways to save on food and veterinary bills, animal experts say. Pet owners spent an average of $217 a year to feed their dogs and $188 for their cats, according to a 2007-2008 American Pet Products Association survey.

Just feeding an animal the right amount of food may reduce expenses, says Jason Merrihew, spokesman for the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). Many owners overfeed their pets, leading to obesity, which can result in costly medical problems.

For those who prefer to make their pets food, veterinary nutritionist Andrea Fascetti of the University of California-Davis recommends using recipes at But before changing a pet's diet, owners should first talk to a veterinarian.

Many owners, however, find veterinary costs are the most difficult to swing.

Thomas, for example, continues to mull what she should do. She refuses to give Armand up and says he's way too healthy otherwise to be put to sleep. She's thinking of switching vets or getting a second opinion to see if giving the medicine once a week will suffice.

At Urban Veterinary Care in Chicago, customers are calling more rather than bringing their pets in for an office visit they'd have to pay for, says Adrian Garibay, a veterinary technician. Many are requesting only the basic vaccines and are holding off on getting X-rays and blood work, waiting to see if their pet recovers on its own.

Susan Nelson, a small-animal veterinarian at Kansas State University, offers tips for at-home care for some common ailments. For mild cuts: Trim hair near the wound, then cleanse it with mild soap and put on a triple-antibiotic skin ointment. For diarrhea: As long as pets do not have blood in their stool and are acting normally, just put them on a bland diet.

Have a Cat? You May Benefit from This New Idea
By Sean Kotz -

In these tough economic times, we are all looking to do our part to rebuild the American economy and reinvent ourselves.

To that end, I have been thinking about opening a new business.

My proposal is simple: I would like to open a Psychological Evaluation and Treatment Center for Insane Cats -- PETCIC, for short -- a viable service for most, if not all, cat owners.

First of all, there is a very good chance that you, gentle reader, have either (a) just removed a cat from your pile of newspapers to get to this article or (b) are currently experiencing the joys of a cat who likes to help you read the paper, or (c) both.

If you wish to preserve your own sanity under such conditions, this leaves you with just two respectable options.

One on hand, you can teach the cat to read, which is not very likely since that is your job and she will still expect you to turn the pages even if it works.

Or, you can take your cat to PETCIC so we can get to the real, underlying issues.

You see, that is the key -- understanding that, unlike dogs and humans and other lower life forms, your cat has real problems.

Have you ever really considered how much social pressure there is on a cat who is expected to both be the most graceful, elegant and sophisticated member of the household and yet must poop in a box in the laundry room?

This is what your cat must manage on a daily basis, my friends, and the only compassionate thing to do is get her the help she needs.

Secondly, from my experience, there are a lot of people who would benefit if for no other reason than to get a good night's sleep.

Sure, you can give the cat the Fred Flintstone treatment, but does that really solve anything?

It only develops resentments and, of course, cats invented both torture and revenge, so it will get you nowhere.

To deal with such a dilemma, you must call in an experienced feline psychologist (like myself) who understands that the cat is both a nocturnal and musical animal similar to an adolescent or Broadway extra, only better at taking messages and much, much cleaner.

So for a reasonable fee and a bag of Purina, I will let you tap into my personal experience with such matters.

For example, at my own house, we are working through a musical catharsis right now.

Two of my cats, Saffron and Schroeder, have decided to process their anxieties by producing a full stage version of West Side Story in our bedroom, complete with phony rumbles and a uniquely staccato arrangement of "Tonight."

Unfortunately, with their busy schedules of napping, exploring shelves with breakable objects and walking in and out of the same door 37 times a day, the only chance they both have to rehearse is between 3 and 4 a.m.

But rather than attempt to strangle an animal that can both see in the dark and turn invisible at will after midnight, you have to use psychology.

In our case, we have discovered (no kidding on this, by the way), that Saffron will drop whatever she is doing if I whistle Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite," (and ONLY that), in effect subduing her with high culture.

Since Schroeder has a co-dependent personality, he calms down, too.

Now, that is just the kind of thing we'll teach you and your cat at PETCIC, so don't hesitate to contact me.

Just fill out the extensive questionnaire below to determine if you have an insane cat.

Question 1: Do you have a cat?

If the answer is yes, you know what you must do.

Sean Kotz is a writer and filmmaker living in Floyd County. You can e-mail him at

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UPDATE: Scatt the Cat Recovering at Home
Posted by John de Leon - Seattle Times

Pasado's Safe Haven says Scatt the cat was released from the vet Thursday and is now recovering at home.

The cat was stabbed and slashed April 19 at The Cross Church in South Seattle. Tracy A. Clark, the man accused of slashing, stabbing and bashing Scatt, could go to state prison for up to a year and a half if convicted.

That's because in addition to filing a felony animal-cruelty charge against 47-year-old Clark, King County prosecutors also tacked on a deadly-weapon enhancement to the charge. That would add an automatic six months to any sentence he receives.

Learn First Aid Care for Your Pet
By Lynda Shrager - Albany Times Union /

Owners should be prepared for variety of emergencies

Thankfully, I walked into the kitchen in time to stop my dog from finishing a plate of chocolate-covered matzo recently. (Bailey, our goldendoodle, claimed she was trying to keep the dietary restrictions of Passover.) April was Pet First Aid Awareness Month —- would you have known what to do?

Start by learning what types of emergencies your pet is likely to encounter. For example, dogs are more prone to ingesting dangerous things, but cats have more injuries from fights.

The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends pet owners have a first aid kit including gauze, nonstick bandages, towels or strips of cloth to control bleeding and adhesive tape (not human tape like Band-Aids) for securing wraps. They also suggest milk of magnesia or activated charcoal to absorb poison and hydrogen peroxide (3 percent) to induce vomiting.

Add a digital rectal thermometer, an eyedropper to give oral treatments and a muzzle. If you don’t have an actual muzzle, nylon stockings, towels or gauze rolls may be used. Your kit also will need species-specific items so, again, know what may be important for your type of pet.

Poisoning and exposure to toxins such as cleaning products, antifreeze and rodent poisons require immediate action. Call your vet or the ASPCA animal poison control center (888-426-4435) and be prepared to tell them the species, breed, age, sex and —- very important —- weight. If possible, have the ingested product in front of you and try to determine how much was consumed. Some common dangerous foods include chocolate, coffee grounds, grapes, raisins and avocados.

When handling even the gentlest injured pet, it is recommended you muzzle it —- as long as it isn’t vomiting. This will prevent a scared pet that might be in pain from biting you.

If your pet is bleeding, place a gauze pad over the wound and apply pressure. Hold it for at least 3 minutes rather than checking it every few seconds so that it will clot more effectively. If bleeding is severe on the legs, you can use a gauze tourniquet between the wound and the body, loosening for 20 seconds every 15 to 20 minutes.

In every emergency, you need to call your vet, who will tell you how to stabilize your pet in preparation for transport to the office.

Have a plan

Organize ahead of time so you can be prepared for an emergency:

Create a card with vet and poison-control numbers and place it in an accessible spot in your house and keep a copy in the car.

Create an evacuation kit for your pet in case of natural disasters.

Go to and type “poison control” in the search box for everything you need to know about poisoning.

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Finding Rentals That Accept Pets

More than 50 percent of renters have pets as members of their families. If you or someone you know has a pet, The Humane Society of the United States has information to help you find pet-friendly rental housing. According to experts:

If more rental housing permitted pets, millions of dogs and cats waiting in shelters and with rescue groups could be placed in loving homes--or stay in their homes when their family moves.

In addition to helping people keep their pets when they move, the Pets for Life campaign of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) also works to solve other problems that threaten human-pet relationships, such as unwelcome pet behaviors and allergies to pets. You can keep your pet and The HSUS can help you.

Visit to find the solutions you need to keep your pet.

A program helps rental managers and pet owners solve the challenges of keeping pets in rental properties.

Pets in Perpetuity
Eileen Ambrose - Baltimore Sun

New state law will allow you to set up a trust to keep your animals going after you're gone

Usually if you want to provide for your pet after your death, you might leave some money to a friend or relative to take care of the animal.

Then you cross your fingers and hope the caregiver does the right thing.

Not much longer.

Under legislation recently signed by Maryland's governor, you will be able to set up a trust to provide for the care of your pets as long as they live. A trust will give you more assurance that your wishes will be carried out. Maryland is the 40th state to allow pet trusts. The law takes effect Oct. 1.

"It's going to bring peace of mind to a number of people, plus take care of some pets," says Del. A. Wade Kach, a Baltimore County Republican who introduced the legislation at the request of constituent Linda Hauser.

Hauser, the owner of three cats and three dogs, says she wanted to include money in her will for her pets but discovered Maryland was one of the few holdouts that didn't allow pet trusts. (You can't leave money directly to pets because they are considered property and can't inherit assets.)

The 61-year-old Hauser says she has relatives who can take care of her pets after her death. But family members have their own pets, she says. She worried that it would be too much of a burden to care for hers, too, as the animals got older and their medical bills climbed. The retiree feared the animals could end up in a shelter and euthanized.

With a trust, she can avoid that fate for her cats and dogs.

"They have been there for me through thick and thin. I want to make sure the last days of their lives are not traumatized," she says.

Under Maryland law, you will be able to set up a trust for pets alive at your death. In other words, you can set up a trust for your pet rabbit - but not for future generations of bunnies. If the trust is set up for more than one pet, the trust will stay in effect until the last pet's death.

Basically, you will need to name a caregiver and a trustee to manage the money in the trust and reimburse the caregiver's expenses. Caregiver and trustee can be one and the same. But some experts suggest assigning different parties to these roles as a check-and-balance on each other.

Maryland law also will allow an outside party to ask the court to appoint another trustee or caregiver if the terms of the trust aren't being carried out.

For a caregiver, "you want someone who has an affinity for the pet" and understands the type of care the pet needs, says Michael Hodes, an estate planning lawyer in Towson. Hodes, 59, plans to set up a pet trust for his bird Honey and dog Maggie, but name separate caregivers for each because of the different care required.

For the trustee, choose someone who is good with money and can wisely invest the trust's funds.

Name backup trustees and caregivers, in case your initial choices are unable to do the job. You also will need multiple backups if you have a pet with a long life span (a parrot, for example, can live for a century), says Gerry W. Beyer, a professor at Texas Tech University School of Law.

Trusts are often funded at death with the proceeds from life insurance.

Maryland's law is set up to avoid the type of legal drama that occurred when billionaire Leona Helmsley left $12 million in trust for her dog Trouble while disinheriting two grandchildren. Maryland's law doesn't list a specific figure, but it allows you to fund the trust with enough money to care for the pet throughout life. It also permits a court to step in if, say, an heir challenges the amount as excessive.

That happened in Helmsley's case, where a judge later reduced Trouble's trust to $2 million, while awarding other millions in the estate to charity and the grandkids.

You don't want to put in too much in the trust - or too little, Hodes says. "What happens if the caregiver can't afford to care for the pet, and there is no money left?" he says.

The trust should designate where the pet will go, such as a no-kill shelter, in the event the money runs out or no caretaker is available, Beyer says.

To figure how much you should set aside for a pet, consider the pet's life expectancy, the cost of food, vet visits, grooming and future medical bills the animal is likely to have as old age sets in.

Some people also set aside extra money to pay a stipend for a caregiver or to pay the fee of a professional trustee, like a bank.

Include where you want any leftover money to go once the pet dies. Don't leave it to the caregiver or trustee, who then is less motivated to keep your pet alive, Beyer says. Often, people leave the money to an animal-friendly charity.

Besides the trust, draw up a letter describing how to care for your pet, including the name of the vet, any medications, the exercise regime and the pet's likes and dislikes. Keep the letter close to where the pet's food is stored so it can be easily found, Beyer says.

These are small steps to take to secure the future of pets that are often considered part of the family - sometimes the most popular members.

"I can't tell you how many times people come in and tell me they like their dog better than anyone in their family," says Jason Frank, a Lutherville estate planning attorney.

Dental Care Tips For Your Pet
By Staff Editor -

There's news that may bring a smile to both pet owners and their loyal companions. Services and products are making it easier to address a pet's need for oral care.

According to American Veterinary Medical Association, periodontal disease is the most common health issue in pets. It's also estimated that almost 80 percent of U.S. pets suffer from periodontal disease by age 3.

This is a cause for concern, since periodontal disease encourages the growth of bacteria and development of other overall health risk factors that can get into the pet's bloodstream.

Blood-borne bacterial infection from periodontal disease is strongly implicated in the development of heart, kidney, liver and respiratory diseases.

The good news is that periodontal disease is preventable. Comprehensive dental care--oral assessment and treatment by the veterinarian at least annually, and daily prevention at home--helps to ensure a healthy pet. This is more than a luxury, since many veterinary dentists believe that good oral health can increase a pet's life span--on average--by about two years.

A leading manufacturer of pet treats with a health benefit, The Greenies Company, offers canine dental chews and feline dental treats.

Clinically proven to help reduce plaque and tartar buildup, the canine dental chews are recognized by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) with its Seal of Acceptance for plaque and tartar control.

The canine chews are said to be nutritionally complete and balanced for adult dogs. Fortified with vitamins and minerals, they contain antioxidants derived from fruits and vegetables. Plus, they're chewy and highly soluble for safe digestion.

The feline treats are proven to help reduce plaque and tartar buildup and are said to be preferred by cats four to one over their regular brand of treat.

They're made from a natural formula, contain less than two calories per piece and are nutritionally complete and balanced for adult cats, fortified with vitamins, minerals and taurine for optimum feline health.

Both the canine dental chews and the feline treats--from Greenies--are available from many veterinary clinics and at most independent and pet specialty stores.

The Greenies Company is a division of Nutro Products, Inc., a leading manufacturer of natural pet food products.

For more information or a free sample, visit

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