When Howard Katz, 61, a limousine driver from Massapequa, on Long Island, was hospitalized with the virus in April, his primary concern was not for himself, his sister Cynthia Hertz said. Instead, he was worried about Lucy, his Shiba Inu, who was readjusting after surgery for an illness that necessitated removing her eyes. Ms. Hertz said she and her

boyfriend spent three days calling vets, dog boarding facilities and res- cue shelters to find someone to care for Lucy. No one would. “They were afraid,” she said.

“Lucy could be carrying the Covid, and nobody was able to help.”* A call to the pet hotline con-

nected her with Jenny Coffey, the community engagement director at the rescue group Animal Haven. The group, which Ms. Coffey

said had fielded 215 cases so far, arranged for Lucy to stay at a Long Island boarding facility for three weeks. The cost was covered by a grant from Red Rover, a group that provides financial help to people with pets in crisis. “It was like a lifeline for my

brother,” said Ms. Hertz, adding that Mr. Katz was overjoyed to be reunit- ed with Lucy after three weeks in a hospital and rehabilitation center. “I didn’t know if he was going to make it if something had happened to Lucy.”

Excerpted from a June 23, 2020 article in The New York Times by Sarah Maslin Nir, titled The Pets Left Behind by COVID-19.

Prepare For The Worst And Hope For The Best

–by Dionne M. Blaesing, Esq.

Given what has happened to our world in the last couple of months, we are reminded that our lives can change in an instant. While it doesn’t have to be a pandemic, this event has certainly made many pet lovers think about the care of their pets should something happen to their owners. Our mortality is a reality. Statistically,

most of us will outlive our pets, especial- ly dogs. We take for granted our day-to- day schedules of work, play, getting together with friends and family, leaving our pets at home for a couple of hours. But what if accident, illness or death happens and prevents you from return- ing home? What happens if your dog is lost by happenstance or hurricane?

OWNER ACCIDENT, ILLNESS OR DEATH For years, Florida pet lovers were

*Current information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates there is no evidence that companion animals can contract or spread COVID-19. For more information about animals and COVID- 19, visit and click on COVID- 19 and Animals, and If You Have Pets.

able to set up a trust provision in our last will and testament, naming a chosen caretaker and allocating money for pet care purposes. The problem was that the caretaker could pocket the money and drop off the pet at the local shelter or animal services facility (or even worse — have the pet euthanized) without any legal liability. It was an honorary trust; the caretaker was on his/her honor to care for the pet, but if he/she had no honor, too bad for the pet. In 2002, the Florida legislature

enacted Fl. St. 737.116 entitled “Trust for the Care of Animals” (the Pet Trust) allowing a pet owner to provide for the continuing care of animal(s) (even those

animals which sane folks have trouble labeling as pets) after the owner’s death or incapacity, which are living during the life of the pet owner. The trust would terminate at the death of the last surviving pet. The statute has been rela- beled as Fl. St. 736.0408 thereafter. The statute specifically 1) allows

enforcement of the trust provisions by a person (trustee) designated in the trust, 2) allows a trustee to be appointed by the Court and 3) allows a trustee to go before the court to request the designa- tion of a caretaker and/or request the removal of a caretaker. The assets, money, accounts, real

property, etc., set aside for the pet’s care in the trust is restricted for use to care of the animal(s). If the value of the trust assets exceeded the cost of its intended use or if a portion of the assets remained after the death of the final surviving ani- mal, the asset returns to the surviving owner. If not, the statute sets a priority list as to which beneficiaries receive the unused assets. As a stand-alone trust, the Pet Trust allows its trustee to have enforcement power comparable to a human trust beneficiary. The pet owner should consult an

estate attorney to ensure creation of a proper Pet Trust. Your role as pet owner for a successful care plan is to talk to those you are planning to appoint and not assume cooperation because they love your dog or they are family mem- bers. This pandemic has illustrated how difficult home arrangements can become in an emergency.


Continued g

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