Animals

By Melissa Arnold

As most businesses come to a standstill to aid in social distancing, many people are looking for ways to help their neighbors and community. While there’s plenty to do for one another, local wildlife organizations have their own plea: Don’t forget the animals.

It’s a tough time for places like the Save the Animals Rescue (STAR) Foundation in Middle Island, a non-profit which rescues and rehabilitates a wide variety of injured wildlife. They also provide a place of sanctuary for those animals not well enough to return to their natural habitats.

Photo courtesy of STAR Foundation

“We rescue those unusual pets that people have abandoned, birds and reptiles, guinea pigs, rabbits, and we’ve been doing this for 25 years,” said STAR Foundation co-director Lori Ketcham. “We are 100 percent reliant on volunteers, and have no paid staff or municipal support. [Normally] about 30 hands-on volunteers assist with rescues, provide animal care, clean cages, help with transport and do whatever else we need help with.”

The STAR Foundation has a long-standing relationship with the Animal Emergency Service clinic in Selden. Temporary limits on staffing and social distancing measures have added additional pressure to the clinic, and for now, STAR is no longer able to send animals to them for immediate care.

“They’re short on equipment and supplies, and what can they do? We [in the animal care field] need gloves and masks just like every other profession, and when those things are gone, they’re gone,” Ketcham said. “And while we’d happily welcome vets who are willing to provide care, not every vet is certified to work with wild animals, so we can’t turn to just anyone.”

The warmest months of the year are also the busiest times for animal rescue organizations, between the arrival of new baby animals and those that sustain injuries while out and about. STAR cares for about 150 animals at a time — currently they’re bottle-feeding baby squirrels and rabbits, caring for woodchucks and all kinds of birds, from quail to great horned owls, and small exotic pets with nowhere to go thanks to suspended adoptions.

While the foundation is keeping a skeleton crew of two to three people on-site, sanitizing regularly and staying separated as much as possible, each new person that enters the building resets that process and introduces new risks, Ketcham explained.

At Sweetbriar Nature Center in Smithtown, they have the same concerns. 

“It’s certainly a big challenge for us — since we’ve been closed to the public, we have only one or two people coming in to work,” said Sweetbriar’s education director Eric Young. “Volunteers have taken some of the animals home for care, but that’s only temporary.”

Photo courtesy of Sweetbriar Nature Center

The center is home to countless animals of all kinds, from bustling ant colonies and hissing cockroaches to box turtles and groundhogs, the occasional goats and foxes, to name a few. Young estimates there are around 50 different kinds of animals on site. At the moment, its on-site Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is caring for several owls and rabbits, a hawk that suffered a gunshot wound, gulls and Canada geese, among others. 

As education director, Young said he’s feeling the loss of the many students who visit the center at this time of year. Sweetbriar interacts with thousands of students annually, including in-school presentations and class field trips.

Now, with schools closed and students adjusting to digital learning in varied forms, Young is trying to find creative ways to bring the animals online.

“We’re thinking about sharing our animal presentations on YouTube, and I’m in the process of putting together resources to share with teachers,” he said. 

At this point, Director of Wildlife Rehabilitation Janine Bendicksen is simply hoping for a quick end to the pandemic so that they can ensure the wellbeing of the staff.

“The Town of Smithtown covers our utilities and major repairs, but we still depend on financial support to pay the salaries of our staff, care for the animals and purchase formula, medicine and food,” Bendicksen said. “Our greatest need right now is to continue to support our staff.”

Ketcham echoed the need for continued donations in these difficult times. 

“We plan our fundraisers well in advance, and without doing five or six fundraisers a year, we’re not going to make it,” she said. “We don’t know what events we will be able to hold. Everything is up in the air right now. It costs about $8,000 a month to keep the center going, and donations have slowed to a trickle.  We have utility bills and insurances, cleaning, food and medical supply bills, no matter what else is going on. Without programs or fundraisers, it will become critical in no time.”

Both the STAR Foundation and Sweetbriar Nature Center are encouraging those who wish to support them with donations to send money only at this time — please protect the staff and do not bring supplies to their physical locations.

To donate to the Save the Animals Rescue (STAR) Foundation, visit www.savetheanimalsrescue.org. Call 631-736-8207 for urgent assistance with wildlife.

To donate to Sweetbriar Nature Center, visit www.sweetbriarnc.org. For those who find an injured wild animal, call 631-979-6344 and leave a message.” All our phone calls go directly to an answering machine that we check each day, we will call them back and give advice. We will accept wildlife if possible,” said Bendicksen.

You can also visit the Department of Environmental Conservation website at www.dec.ny.gov and search for “wildlife rehabilitator near me” to connect with other rescue organizations in your area.

Retired police officer encourages empathy for refugees in powerful first book

Reviewed by Melissa Arnold

Author Bill Kiley

Every year, tens of thousands of people from around the world flee their homes. They have any number of motivations, among them political turmoil, threat of violence, discrimination and climate change, to name a few. 

Retired police officer Bill Kiley has deep compassion for asylum seekers of all kinds, and recently felt a strong desire to help them in some way. Kiley, 71, of East Northport, hopes that educating children about the plight of refugees can bring about a more supportive, empathetic culture in the next generation. 

His new book, “Hope and Freckles: Fleeing to a New Forest” tells the story of a white-tailed deer named Hope and her spotted fawn, Freckles, as they attempt to escape the growing number of hunters in their forest and go in search of a place where they will be safe. The sharply written story and whimsical, beautifully-illustrated characters will stir the hearts of children and adults alike.

What was your childhood like? 

I was raised in Brooklyn, lived in Queens after I got married, and came to this area when I started working for the Suffolk County Police Department years ago.

Were you creative from an early age?

I wasn’t creative at all. I’m one of nine children, and we lived in an apartment with one bathroom, so you can imagine what that was like! We played a lot of sports with our friends, and I started working during the summers when I was 11 to help contribute to the family.

What did you end up doing for a career?

After high school, I spent a couple of years working at the FBI as a clerk while I went to college at what is now John Jay College at night. My initial plan was to become an agent. Simultaneously, when I was 17 I joined the Army National Guard. I went away for six months of training right after my 18th birthday, and continued to go for additional training at other points which meant some breaks from school. I ultimately began working for the Suffolk County Police Department in 1972.

You must have met a lot of people from diverse backgrounds, then.

Of course. That was part of my motivation for writing this book. I wanted to shine a light on the struggles of refugees and asylum seekers all over the world. After 30 years in law enforcement and serving as an Army reservist, I recognize that this crisis threatens free democracy if it’s not dealt with. If we don’t step up, then our children and grandchildren will be left to deal with the global implications of people being pushed out of their countries and living in tent cities. Something needs to change.

When did you first start writing? 

In retirement, I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of babysitting for my granddaughters. We’re a few blocks away from a local library, and so when the kids were with me we’d sometimes go down to the library and head to the children’s section. I began reading to them, and then as they grew I’d read along with them. At that point I began to see the incredible power that children’s books have on young minds. All the while, I’d been looking for a way to help with the refugee crisis, and I began to think that maybe I could help young children understand what’s happening and have some positive influence on the future. I never had any ambitions to become an author.

How did you learn about publishing and sharpen your writing skills?

I read a lot with my grandkids. But in the spring of 2019, I found out about an annual convention in New York City called Book Expo at the Javits Center. I spent three days there. For me, it was a three-day immersive educational experience. I had the opportunity to meet lots of people from every aspect of the writing and publishing world, including some very generous folks who were authors of children’s books. They spent a lot of time sharing their experiences and advice with me, and then I went home and continued to read and learn as much as I could. 

How did your family react when you told them you wanted to write a book?

Well, my wife, Kathy, and I were in school together since the first grade. We go back that far. And no one in my life has been as supportive of their spouse in life as my wife has been for me. In everything I’ve ever tried, she’s been there, and this was just another one of those things.

My granddaughters have been involved in this project from the get-go. They gave great feedback and I’ve had the chance to share the book with their classmates, too.

Is there a reason why you chose to make the characters animals instead of people?

I thought that since this is such a sensitive subject to explain to children, it would be less upsetting to use animals. The national animal of Honduras is the white-tailed deer, and as many refugees come from that area, I thought it was an appropriate choice.

How did you go about getting published?

I met a number of people from traditional publishing companies, independent publishers and hybrids. One of them was a man who recommended his publisher, Mascot Books in Herndon, Virginia. I submitted my manuscript and was happy to learn that they were going to accept it.

What about the illustrations?

I contacted freelancers all over the world, and Mary Manning’s work is so unique and beautiful. I’m so happy with what she’s done for the book. Once the manuscript was finalized, Mary broke the manuscript into logical scene breaks, then made pencil sketches for me to approve. She took it from there. To see the final copy was like holding my children and grandchildren for the first time. There was a feeling of, “Oh my gosh, we just gave birth to a book!”

This book also includes vocabulary words and questions for discussion. Why did you choose to add those?

As I was researching and reading different children’s books, I found a couple that had some variation of continuing discussion. My hope is that this book isn’t just read by 7 to 10 year olds, but that their families will read along with them and share in the experience and conversations that can happen afterward. A parent or other adult might feel ill-equipped to start a discussion on their own, so I thought having some starter questions might be helpful.

What do you want children to take away from reading this book?

The response from the classes I’ve read to so far has been wonderful. Kids have shared that they never thought about what it would be like to leave your home because of danger; to not have a school to go to or books to read; that they are grateful for what they have. That has been like gold to me. 

It’s easy for people in our country to automatically look at the U.S,-Mexican border as the only place of crisis. But this is a global issue. The U.N. estimates that around 26 million people around the world have had to flee their homes, often to places where they are unwanted. Half of those refugees are children. I hope kids who read this book come to understand that there are people their age that are in that situation, and empathize with the plight of refugees all over the world.

What’s next for you?  

My hope is to do a series of four books, all with these same characters, following their journey as it continues on. I’ll be reading from the book at Barnes and Noble stores around Long Island and New York City in the future. I am also available to speak about the book at schools, religious congregations and events.

“Hope and Freckles: Fleeing to a New Forest” is available online at www.mascotbooks.com, www.Amazon.com or www.BN.com. To learn more about Bill Kiley, this book and future projects, visit www.hopeandfreckles.com.

Max

MEET MAX!

This week’s shelter pet is Max, an eight-year-old Corgi mix, patiently waiting at the Smithtown Animal Shelter for his furever home. 

Max

A surrender, Max may have experienced some type of trauma in the past. As a result, he is a little cautious when meeting new people before warming up to you. However, anyone who knows Max will tell you it is well worth a few visits to gain his trust. Once he lets you into his heart, the affection and love he gives is truly endless. 

Max would be best suited in a home without cats and young children. He does get along with mellow dogs who know not to play too rough.

*Due to the health risk presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, there will be limited public access to the shelter. If you are interested in meeting Max, please fill out an adoption application online. Once you have an approved application, you may meet with Max outside. The Smithtown Animal & Adoption Shelter is located at 410 Middle Country Road, Smithtown. For more information, call 631-360-7575.

Peggy

MEET PEGGY!

This week’s shelter pet is Peggy, a six-month-old female domestic shorthair kitty currently waiting to be adopted at the Smithtown Animal Shelter. 

Peggy came to the shelter as part of the town’s trap-neuter-release program, and she instantly started looking for affection. Peggy is gentle and shy, but she loves to be loved by people! She’s great with children and would do well in a home with other cats. Peggy unfortunately has a ruptured ear drum that causes her to have a chronic stuffy nose. Her perfect home would be a quiet place where she can cuddle and play all day.

Peggy is up to date on her vaccines and has received a full workup (blood work, feline HIV and leukemia tested, physical exam, etc.) by a board-certified veterinarian. If you are interested in meeting Peggy, please call ahead to schedule an hour to properly interact with her in their Meet and Greet room.

The Smithtown Animal & Adoption Shelter is located at 410 Middle Country Road, Smithtown. Walk-in hours are currently Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Sundays by appointment only. For more information, call 631-360-7575.

Katrina Denning, Erica Kutzing and Jenny Luca are the three in charge of Brookhaven’s new TNR task force. Photo by Kyle Barr

A new pilot trap, neuter and release program will look to stem the tide of the growing feral cat population in the Town of Brookhaven. Such has been the efforts of local animal activists who for months have advocated for official help in what seemed an insurmountable problem. 

Erica Kutzing, a Sound Beach resident and vice president of North Shore-based Strong Island Animal Rescue League, said she and others believe it will allow for better outcomes and success rates for feral cats. 

Strong Island Animal Rescue joined with local animal activists and Brookhaven town to set up the new task force. Photo by Kyle Barr

“It meant a lot to us to help solve this real issue,” she said. 

Kutzing, Katrina Denning, founder of the Jacob’s Hope Rescue, and Jenny Luca, among others attended a number of Town Board meetings from October to December 2019, discussing the need for Brookhaven to provide more assistance to local animal rescue groups in the ongoing feral cat crisis. 

“The TNR [Trap-Neuter-Return] program at that time was broken and needed to be fixed,” Kutzing said. 

At the end of December, the trio were given the opportunity to meet with Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and Town Board members to talk about the status of the program. In two separate meetings, animal rescue advocates discussed ways they could improve the program and ease the burden on local rescue groups.

After some weeks of negotiations, town officials agreed to put the trio in charge of the task force. The town also decided to increase the original program’s budget from $40,000 to $60,000, began a partnership with Medford-based veterinary clinic Long Island Spay & Neuter, and will pay professional trappers to help capture feral cats. 

The pilot program was officially announced at the March 12 board meeting, classified as a “Program for the Public Good,” thereby qualifying it for coverage under the town’s public good insurance. 

“We are moving in a direction to reduce the population of feral cats — we believe the best way to deal with this issue is to work with nonprofits, who are extremely committed people,” Romaine said. “Limiting the population is the right thing to do for the community.” 

Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said the feral cat population on Long Island has been increasing drastically over the years, with a significant amount being located in Council District 1. 

“The town was able to develop the pilot program with significant community input from the rescue organizations,” she said in a statement. “We are anticipating success of the pilot program and we appreciate the community groups working collaboratively with the town.”

Denning said they were pleasantly surprised that town officials put them in charge and supported their ideas. She expects to see improved results once the program is set up, especially with Dr. John Berger, a veterinarian at Long Island Spay & Neuter, in place to perform the procedures.

“The way it was done before was just not working,” she said. “We needed someone who was skilled with dealing with a high volume of feral cats. Dr. Berger is trained to do a large number of surgeries.”

In turn, Denning said it will allow them to get more cats fixed and treated than before. 

“We will be doing clinics and specifically have a block of time where Dr. Berger can deal with a mass quantity at once,” she said. “We will be able to treat 20-30 cats and deal with entire colonies.”

Feral cats in a wooded area in Mount Sinai eyes humans entering its habitat. Photo by Kyle Barr

In addition, the group will come up with a list of approved trappers who will “go out and capture these feral cats instead of the homeowners who are not as experienced,” Denning said. “We will be paying them for their work and incentivize them to go out more, now they don’t need to spend their own money on supplies.”

Luca, who has been an independent rescuer for the past 10 years, said the new program will allow them to do more in helping feral cats. 

“Cats are on every block on Long Island — we were very limited in what we could do before,” she said. 

Luca said with added support they will be able to use funds to buy new equipment like drop traps to ensure they’ll be able to capture more feral cats. 

Another aspect of the program is public education. 

“Educating people is huge — we are looking for individuals/volunteers who are interested in learning what we do and help us, it would be great,” Luca said.

Kutzing said surgery appointments will be twice a month at the clinics and they expect the program to be up and running sometime in April. 

In the meantime, the trio is excited for
the opportunity.

“It is incredible what we’ve been able to do,” Kutzing said. “It has been such a rewarding experience.”

Bullet

MEET BULLET!

This week’s shelter pet is Bullet,  a 1-year-old Weimaraner mix from Texas. This handsome boy loves to run around and play, is good with other dogs and walks really well on a leash. 

Bullet would do best in a home where the family is home often due to some separation anxiety issues. He’s very people friendly and loves to give hugs. Bullet is patiently waiting for his new snuggle buddy to come adopt him! He comes neutered, microchipped and is up to date on all his vaccines.

Kent Animal Shelter is located at 2259 River Road in Calverton. The adoption center is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information on  Bullet and other adoptable pets at Kent, call 631-727-5731 or visit www.kentanimalshelter.com.

Photo from Metro

By Matthew Kearns, DVM

Concerns about a human coronavirus, better known as COVID 19, is raising fears for a global outbreak. The good news is that although COVID 19 may have its origins in a coronavirus found in bats, THERE IS NO EVIDENCE AT THIS TIME that the known canine and feline coronaviruses can spread from animals to humans. The risk of spread of COVID 19 is human to human at this time.

Coronavirus in dogs typically causes enteritis, or inflammation of the bowel. Most of the cases cause a mild, self-limiting diarrhea that lasts for a few days and does not even require a trip to the veterinarian’s office. Less commonly, more severe diarrhea, loss of appetite, or vomiting occur. 

More recently, a canine coronavirus respiratory virus has been isolated in association with other respiratory viruses into a disease termed Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC). Again, the symptoms are usually mild and self-limiting rarely causing death.

Coronavirus in cats is much more serious. Most coronavirus in cats also cause self-limiting gastrointestinal symptoms similar to dogs. However, there is a particular strain of feline coronavirus that leads to a disease process called Feline Infectious Peritonitis, or FIP for short. 

This FIP strain of the coronavirus appears to be a mutation of one of the more benign strains of the enteric (gut) coronavirus. Rather than a self-limiting diarrhea, the deadly FIP develops. FIP has two forms: a “wet form” and a “dry form.” In the wet form a high fever and effusion develops. This effusion, or protein rich fluid, usually develops in the abdomen causing a peritonitis. Less commonly the fluid develops in the chest cavity causing a pleural effusion. In either case the outcome is severe and always fatal. The symptoms develop rapidly (over a few days to, at most, a few weeks). The patient stops eating and is usually humanely euthanized if he or she does not pass away on their own. 

There is also a less common “dry form” of the disease. The dry form of FIP is a slower developing sequela of the disease. Rather than a rapid progression of disease over a few weeks, the dry form takes months to years. The dry form produces a granulomatous response and produces deposits of a specific type of scar tissue in internal organs. These internal organs then begin to dysfunction and ultimately shut down. 

My experience has shown patients usually are humanely euthanized or pass away from kidney failure secondary to the dry form of FIP. The kidneys, unlike some other organs, do not regenerate cells or repair damage. Once a certain percentage of the kidneys stops functioning the rest of the body quickly shuts down.

There are both feline and canine coronavirus vaccines but their actual efficacy is questionable. There are so many strains that the single strain in the vaccine protect against them all. It would be like having a single flu vaccine that is never modified year to year. The good news is that most cases of both feline and canine coronavirus are mild and self-limiting. Also, I have found no information at this time that states that the canine or feline coronavirus poses any threat to human health. 

If you have questions that are not answered in this article, or are concerned about the health of your individual pet please contact your regular veterinarian for an appointment.  

Dr. Kearns practices veterinary medicine from his Port Jefferson office and is pictured with his son Matthew and his dog Jasmine. Have a question for the vet? Email it to leisure@tbrnewspapers.com and see his answer in an upcoming column.

Reviewed by Jeffrey Sanzel

Animalkind is subtitled “Remarkable Discoveries about Animals and Revolutionary New Ways to Show Them Compassion.” This succinctly explains this straight-forward work coauthored by Ingrid Newkirk, founder of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), and Gene Stone, who has done extensive plant-based writing.

The book is divided into two parts.  The first half deals with understanding animals as beings who “move, chat, love, and romp … and how we humans can benefit from our greater understanding of what makes animals tick.”

Co-author and animal activist Ingrid Newkirk with a friend

Section I covers a wide, diverse range of beings from the wonder of worker ants; to Rico, the extraordinary retrieving Border Collie; to “Clever Hans,” the Orlov trotter who was purported to comprehend sentences and solve math problems (but was revealed to be taking cues from his master). These and many more are analyzed alongside organisms as unusual as maze-solving slime mold:

The dog who jumps for joy when you come home. The emperor penguin guarding his child through a subzero blizzard. The dolphin smiling at us from the water. The sleeping cat’s purr of contentment. The manta ray’s intricate underwater ballets. The lark’s exquisite song. Animals delight, fascinate, and enrich human lives and thoughts every day of the year.

Newkirk and Stone carefully base their arguments in science and not solely issues of feelings and morality. Extensive research, siting multiple sources, are the foundation of their thesis. They make the distinction that we cannot compare animals’ minds and emotions to our own; anthropomorphizing is a dead-end in the understanding of animal natures. This is also true in comparing animals to other animals.

Contrary to common thought, animals — even fish — can be self-aware, and, therefore, experience pain and trauma as well as other emotions. There are detailed discussions of homing instincts and complex migrations in everything from snails to elephants. They look at the long-term effects of removing animals from their natural habitats. Quoting Darwin, animals experience “anxiety, grief, dejection, despair, joy love, ‘tender feelings,’ devotion, ill-temper, sulkiness, determination, hatred, anger, disdain, contempt, disgust, guilt, pride, helplessness, patience, surprise, astonishment, fear, horror, shame, shyness, and modesty.”

In a mix of investigation and anecdotes, the writers paint a vivid picture of a world that more than just co-exists with ours.

Section II deals with difficult issues. It focuses on how animals have been exploited for science, clothing, entertainment, and food. Part two alternates between detailed and often graphic accounts, offering a variety of proposed alternatives. Each of these ends with suggested calls to action.

The science portion gives a brutal narrative of the history of experimentation and vivisection. It discusses the problems with what few laws there are and their poor enforcement. It brings up the 3Rs of humane animal research:  replacement (substitutions); reduction (using the fewest number possible); and refinement (techniques that reduce the pain and stress). 

According to their sources, much of the testing on animals is of limited-to-no value given the dissimilarities of humans and animals. In addition, computer simulations are slowly replacing many areas of exploration: “In the future, the math may replace the mouse.” Finally, they encourage people to only use products and brands that are proven to be cruelty-free.

The ensuing sections follow much the same format:  A history of the use of animals, followed by analysis of their abuse, and finally specific changes that people can make in their lives. Everything from the pain of sheep raised for wool to the horrors found in circuses, zoos, and all forms of captivity are recounted. Even the “No Animals Were Harmed in the Making of This Film” is, at best, a half-truth, if not a lie. “Free range,” “free roaming,” and “cage-free” are often misnomers, misrepresenting the reality.  

Dunkirk and Stone also provide a brief  but informative history of the animal protection movement. This segues into the health benefits of a plant-based diet, describing the various meat, dairy, and egg alternatives and echoes the earlier proposals for clothing options that do not involve the harming or slaughter of animals.  

The book is passionate and honest in its goals; it makes its points with clarity and sincerity. Ultimately, people are reluctant to make changes they see as inconvenient and the advocacy here is large one. Whether this book creates converts to the cause remains to be seen. However, for those who do read it, it will certainly make a lasting impression. 

Animalkind is available at Book Revue in Huntington, Barnes & Noble and online through Simon & Schuster (simonandschuster.com) and Amazon. 

Stock photo

By Linda Toga, Esq.

Linda Toga

THE FACTS: Just before my husband died we adopted a puppy we named Morris. Morris is a great source of comfort and joy and I cannot imagine being without him. My concern is that something may happen to me that makes it difficult or impossible for me to care for Morris. Although my children live close by, I cannot depend on them to care for Morris because of allergies and their living arrangements. My friends told me that I should include a pet trust in my will so that Morris’s needs will be met but, I understand that the provisions in my will will have no bearing on Morris’ care until I die and my will is admitted to probate.

THE QUESTION: What can I do to make sure Morris will be cared for in the event I am disabled or simply cannot take care of him any longer? 

THE ANSWER: To insure that Morris is cared for despite your inability to take care of him yourself, you should create an intervivos pet trust. An intervivos pet trust becomes effective as soon as it is executed and funded in contrast to a pet trust that is included in your will. The latter will not address Morris’s needs during your lifetime. 

In the pet trust you need to name the pet or pets that you want to benefit from the terms of the trust. If Morris is your only pet and you do not have plans to get another pet, you can name Morris as the sole beneficiary of the trust. People who have more than one pet or who expect to have other pets during their lifetime may want to identify the beneficiaries of the trust as “any and all pets” they may have at the time the provisions of the trust are triggered. Generally, the terms of a pet trust are triggered when the pet owner’s health deteriorates to the point that the caregiver must assume responsibility for the pet’s care. Triggering events may include your illness, disability (either permanent or temporary) and your death.  

In addition to naming the pets who are to benefit from the provisions of the trust and the events that will result in Morris’s care being taken over by the caregiver, you need to name the person or persons who will be Morris’ caregiver. Be sure to name a successor caregiver in case the caregiver you name is unable to deal with Morris when the need arises. Before naming a caregiver, you should ask each potential caregiver if she is willing to take on the responsibility of caring for Morris. It is important to discuss with all potential caregivers whether their living arrangements can accommodate your pet, whether they or the people they live with have any health issues that may be adversely impacted by the presence of your pet and whether caring for Morris will be an undue burden, financially or otherwise. 

You should plan on funding the pet trust with enough money to cover Morris’s anticipated expenses for the rest of his life. Doing so will alleviate any financial burden on the caregiver However, money will not necessarily alleviate the burden created by the time and effort needed to feed and walk Morris and to get to him the vet and/or groomer as needed. Make sure the caregiver you chose understands exactly what is involved in caring for Morris. You should not assume that everyone will be willing and/or able to give Morris the care and attention he has grown accustomed to. 

Your pet trust should address what will be done in the event you are temporarily unable to care for Morris, as well as what will be done if your health deteriorates to the point that you can no longer care for him at all. Obviously, the trust should also provide guidance as to Morris’s care after your death and your wishes with respect to Morris’s burial or cremation. 

In the trust you should set forth any special needs that Morris may have in terms of diet, grooming or medication. You should also provide the names and contact information for the people who have been treating and grooming Morris. If you want Morris to be groomed monthly, state that in the trust. If you want Morris to be fed a special diet, state as much in the trust. The more information you can provide the caregiver, the more likely it is that Morris will be taken care of in accordance with your wishes. 

With respect to how much money to put into the trust for Morris’s care, you need to consider his age and current physical condition, as well as what you have historically paid for his care. Although you don’t want to set aside too much money, the trust should be funded with sufficient assets to cover routine expenses as well as expenses that will arise when Morris dies. You can indicate in the trust what will happen to the funds that may remain in the trust once Morris is gone. Many people have those assets pass to the caregiver in recognition of their service but, some people opt to have the funds pass to a charity that provides services to abandoned pets. 

There are clearly a lot that goes into the creation of a pet trust for a beloved pet like Morris. It is, therefore, important to seek the expertise of an attorney with experience in creating pet trusts since they are in the best position to insure that all of the important issues that should be addressed in the trust are, in fact, addressed. 

Linda M. Toga, Esq. provides legal services in the areas of estate planning and administration, real estate, small business services and litigation from her East Setauket office. Visit her website at www.lmtogalaw.com or call 631-444-5605 to schedule a free consultation.