Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Petties Awards announces the Best Pet Bloggers 2011

DogTime Media's Petties Awards Recognizes Eight of the Best Pet Bloggers and Donates $20,000 to Animal Shelters and Rescues Nationwide

SAN FRANCISCOAug. 31, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- DogTime Media, the largest vertical media community focused exclusively on pet owners, announced the winners of the 2011 DogTime Pet Blog Awards, also known as "the Petties."
The DogTime Pet Blog Awards are considered by many to be "the Oscars of the pet blogging world." This year the 2011 Petties recognized 32 nominees chosen by their fellow bloggers and pet lovers from across the DogTime Media community.
On Friday, August 26th, DogTime Media announced the eight Petties winners via a gala awards ceremony broadcast on YouTube®, and hosted by DogTime's editor-in-chief Leslie Smith.
"Congratulations to all the nominees and winners of this year's Petties," said DogTime Media CEO, Trevor Wright. "We are very proud to have had the opportunity to share these great blogs with a larger audience than ever this year."
2011 DogTime Pet Blog Award Winners:
Each of the winners will receive a Petties award trophy and a $1,000 donation to the non-profit animal shelter or rescue of their choice.

Best Designed Blog
Kate Benjamin for Moderncat
Chosen rescue organization: All About Animals and Arizona Safe Haven for Animals

Best Social Media Integration Blog
Stephanie Harwin for Catsparella
Chosen rescue organization: Tabby's Place

Funniest Pet Blog
Angie Bailey for Catladyland
Chosen rescue organization: Feline Rescue Inc.

Best Cause Related Blog
Kim Clune and Amy Burkert for Be the Change 4 Animals
Chosen rescue organization: Best Friends Animal Society

Best Blog Post
Chosen rescue organizations: Animal Advocates and Feline Ranch

Best Cat Blog
Robin Olson for Covered in Cat Hair
Chosen rescue organization: Kitten Associates

Best Dog Blog
Carol Bryant for Fido Friendly
Chosen rescue organizations: Gulf Coast Cocker Spaniel Rescue and Camp Cocker

Best Overall Pet Blog
Ingrid King for The Conscious Cat
Chosen rescue organizations: Casey's House and Kitten Associates

"The dedication of the Petties winners and nominees is inspiring to their fellow bloggers and the legions of dedicated readers who follow their posts," said Wright.
DogTime Media will also provide two additional $1,000 donations to non-profit animal shelters or rescues chosen by two Twitter followers who tweeted congratulations to the winning bloggers during the awards ceremony.
As part of the 2011 Petties Awards program DogTime will also donate $10,000 to a non-profit shelter or rescue organization chosen by a blogger who hosts the Adoptable Dog or Cat Finder iframe by October 31st. The iframe gives bloggers the opportunity to increase awareness for over 70,000 dogs and cats currently in shelters across the country.
Petties winners will be interviewed by DogTime's editor-in-chief Leslie Smith for an article that will appear on and across the DogTime Media Network.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pet inheritance: the trouble with Trouble’s money

By Jessica Martin
August 4, 2011
Reprinted with permission 8.11.11

Estate planning with Fido in mind? Better be careful, says a trusts and estates expert at Washington University in St. Louis School of Law.     
The issue has been in the news recently. British fashion designer Alexander McQueen, who died in February 2010, left a sizeable sum of money to his beloved dogs; Trouble, the recently deceased dog of “The Queen of Mean,” Leona Helmsley, famously inherited $12 million.
Beyond celebrities, a powerful pet inheritance constituency thrives. Between 12 percent and 27 percent of owners have provisions for their pets in their wills. But what happens to the inheritance when the pet passes?
“Poor Trouble already had her bequest reduced to $2 million among other problems with the inheritance,” says Adrienne Davis, JD, the William M. Van Cleve Professor of Law at Washington University in St. Louis.
“The remainder of Trouble’s money will go to Helmsley’s charitable trust. And yet, the legal issues do not end there. Typically gifts to charitable trusts, including remainders such as this one, would qualify for a tax deduction. However tax law excludes charitable remainders following pet trusts from qualifying.”
Davis notes that there is one final anti-pet outrage in Trouble’s case. In addition to reducing Helmsley’s gift to Trouble, the probate judge overturned Helmsley’s directive that her charitable trust be used for animal welfare, instead permitting the trustees to distribute Helmsley’s assets to non-animal charities of their own choosing.
“Although pet inheritance in America was recognized in 1923, and despite several recent innovations, the law remains unstable,” Davis say

“One basic problem is that estate planning attorneys and their clients do not take advantage of the substantial legal reforms that have come in the last decade. Trusts must be properly drafted and should name caretakers who are willing to comply with the trust terms. If a final resting place is desired, lawyers should check that it will accept pets.”
Helmsley’s final request for Trouble, that she be buried beside Helmsley in the family mausoleum, cannot be fulfilled as pets cannot be buried in human cemeteries.
Davis says that other reforms are still needed.
“One proposed bill would extend the charitable remainder tax deduction to pet trusts,” she says.
“Other reforms would make it easier to create trusts for future generations, or ‘grand-kid pets.’ That ‘companion’ feeling has spilled over owners’ lifetimes into their estate plans, with no end in sight.”
Frances Foster, JD, trusts and estates scholar and the Edward T. Foote II Professor of Law at WUSTL School of Law, tackles the issue of pet inheritance reform in her recent Florida Law Review article, “Should Pets Inherit.”
“Trouble — and the millions of American pets like her — should inherit,” Foster says.
“American inheritance law is trapped in an outdated family paradigm. That paradigm assumes that the decedent’s closest relatives by blood, adoption or marriage are the most deserving recipients of the decedent’s estate, the so-called ‘natural objects of the decedent’s bounty.’ For many Americans today though, their pets, not their human family members, are their nearest and dearest.”

Foster argues that the idea of “natural” wealth distribution permeates law and decisionmaking and creates significant human costs.
“By ignoring the actual relationships between decedents and survivors, the family paradigm excludes the very people a particular decedent may have valued most — those connected by affection and support rather than by family status,” she says.

Foster notes that recent reforms have focused on enforcing pet care arrangements on an ad hoc basis, improving legal mechanisms to provide for decedents’ pets and redefining the legal status of pets.
“But these strategies offer only partial solutions because they fail to challenge the family paradigm,” she says.
“Reformers must look beyond the family paradigm’s abstractions and develop more individualized approaches that encompass a decedent’s actual natural objects ― be they human or nonhuman.”