Thinking About Adopting a Pet? Here are Some Useful Tips to Keep in Mind

Congrats!  You’ve decided you’re ready to share your life with an animal.  Get ready for one of the most rewarding experiences on the planet.  There is nothing else like having a non-human companion to share life’s ups and downs with.

When bringing a pet into your family, we cannot stress how important it is to adopt.  Every day, perfectly healthy animals are euthanized to create more room in shelters and purchasing from breeders gives homeless animals less opportunity to have a home.  Pet stores are possibly the worst place to get an animal, as the animals are obtained through horrible, abusive conditions.  If you love animals, adopting from a rescue or animal shelter is the best option.

Now that you’ve made the decision to adopt, you have many things to consider and prepare for.  While rewarding, taking care of an animal is challenging and can be stressful at times.  The more you understand about life with a pet, the less stressful it will be.  Keep all these things in mind to make life great for you and your pet.

Living Space

Consider the size of your home or apartment.  It should go without saying that a Great Dane is not suitable for a studio apartment.  Think about the size of your space and if you intend to stay there.  You could be living in a spacious place now, but have to downsize later.  Does your living space come with a backyard to play in and explore?  Your living situation is a big component in your pet’s comfort.

Daily Schedule

Your lifestyle has a huge effect on your pet.  If you’re away from home often, a dog isn’t the best pet choice.  With a pet, your schedule is no longer yours.  Feeding time, bathroom breaks and exercise must be incorporated into your daily routine.  Not only that, but you will need to keep to the schedule to accommodate your pet’s needs.

Animal’s Activity Level

Puppies and kittens are adorable, but they have a TON of energy. It can be exhausting just keeping up with them every day.  If you lead a more laid-back lifestyle, opt to adopt an older animal with less energy than a puppy or kitten.  If your lifestyle is active, a young animal might be a great companion to have.

With activity levels, you also need to consider various breeds.  There are many dog breeds that are known for their high energy, even after they grow out of their puppy stage.  Dogs known for athletics and endurance like Cattle Dogs, Coonhounds, Huskies, and Terriers are best for high-energy people.

Financial Responsibility


We’re just going to be upfront: vet bills are expensive.  And necessary.  If you can’t afford to take your pet to the vet, you can’t afford to have a pet.  You need to factor in vet visits, heartworm pills, and any other necessary medicine, as well as the potential for emergency vet visits and surgeries.  Medical care is only part of the financial responsibilities of having a pet, too.  Your monthly grocery bill will go up from pet food… and treats and toys are necessary for exercise and mental stimulation.  Before you adopt your pet, sit down and go through your monthly expenses and factor pet costs into your budget.


With dogs, training is a big part of the relationship between the two of you.  This is where you establish trust and dominance.  Not just that, but you will run into fewer issues with bad behavior and teach your pup basic commands that can be very important to their own safety.  There are many ways you can learn to train your dog, from books to classes taught by animal behavior specialists.  Training takes a lot of hard work and patience, but it makes for a stronger relationship between you and your dog.  While there are plenty of great resources available for training, group class are a great pick as they will help give your dog socialization skills and introduce you to fellow dog lovers!

If you have gone through this list and have considered all these items, then you are ready to share your life with another creature.  If not, take time to examine these tips and make sure you are truly ready to adopt.  It’s important to be as prepared as possible so you can enjoy every day with your new best friend.

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Setting Up a Trust for Your Pet

Photo Credit: Alan Kay

A dear friend of mine just entered hospice care.  After a courageous battle, she is finally surrendering to ovarian cancer.  In a conversation shared yesterday, she told me that she wants her beloved horse Partner to go to one of our mutual friends along with her truck and trailer and money to take care of him for the rest of his life.  When asked if all of this was in writing (my hope was that all of this was already recorded in a notarized legal document), she responded with, “No.”

So, while I’m now aware of my friend’s intentions for her horse, there’s no guarantee that her wishes will be carried out when all is said and done.  She is concerned that her husband might not be happy with her plan (he doesn’t know about it yet, nor does she want him to).  I’m in the process of contacting my friend’s attorney to see if he is available to talk with her and prepare an appropriate document.  In all honesty, I’m afraid that we are running out of time.  I’ve typed something up myself that my friend can sign today with hopes that this will suffice in terms of carrying out her wishes.

My friend’s situation is not unique.  Who the heck knows if we will predecease our pets?  Just as for our children, having certainty about how our animals will be cared for after we pass away not only protects them, but also has the potential to provide us with tremendous peace of mind.  Setting up a legal trust is the best way to make all of this happen.

What is a pet trust?
A pet trust is a legal arrangement that provides for an animal’s care and maintenance in the event of the pet guardian’s disability or death.  The “grantor” (called the “settlor” or “trustor” in some states) is the person who creates the trust.  A “trustee” is designated and holds property such as cash “in trust” for the benefit of the pet. Payments to a designated caregiver(s) are made on a regular basis.
Rules and regulations
It’s now possible to make provisions for a pet through a trust in all 50 states.  Minnesota was the last hold out and, earlier this year, became the final state to pass legislation approving pet trusts.

Rules pertaining to pet trusts vary from state to state.  In most cases the trust terminates when the animal passes away or after 21 years, whichever occurs first.  While this works well for most dogs and cats, it has the potential to be problematic for animals with longer life expectancies such as horses and parrots.  Some states allow a pet trust to continue past the 21-year term if the animal remains alive.  After the pet passes away, any remaining funds are typically distributed amongst heirs as directed by the terms of the trust.

Trust details
When crafting a trust, think about who you might want to care for your pets if you are no longer able to, and then talk to that person(s).  Better to check out the viability of your plan in advance than surprise your friend or relative with such news after you are gone.  While not necessary for the intended caregiver to sign off on the legal document, it is certainly wise to know in advance that you have their buy in.

Instruction within the trust can be very specific, including as much detail about your pet’s care as you like.  For example, you might specify preferred types of food, favorite toys, sleeping arrangements, exercise regimens, and the number of veterinary visits per year.  Consider specifying how much veterinary intervention you would want should illness arise.  Details about care of your pet’s remains following their death can be included.

Think about how much money would be needed to properly care for your pets and how the funds should be distributed to the caregiver(s).  Remember to factor in funds for grooming, boarding, and veterinary costs.

Lastly, identify your pets within the trust with as much detail as possible.  In addition to their names include details such as breed, size, identifying markings and microchip numbers.  Consider including photographs.

Making a trust happen
If you don’t already have a trust prepared for your pets, I encourage you to make this a priority.  Ideally, enlist the help of an attorney who specializes in estate planning.  If this isn’t feasible, type up a document (as I am doing today for my friend) and sign and date it.  It might be a good idea to also have the document signed by a witness or two.  I suspect there are on line templates one can follow as well.

Performing such tasks isn’t much fun, and it’s certainly no fun to think about someone else caring for your beloved animals someday.  Nonetheless, I encourage you to get a trust prepared for your pets.  Guaranteed, after doing so, you will feel some peace of mind having provided this true expression of love for your animals.

Do you have a trust in place for your pets?  If not, will you consider making this happen?

Best wishes,

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award

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K-9 Cares Academy

K-9 Angels Rescue would like to present:  K-9 Cares Academy!

** Class starts at 7p, meet and greet starts at 6:30p**
5533 Weslayan  Houston TX 77005

This class will be offered the 3rd Thursday of every month, is open to the public, and will cover the following:

– How to have positive, non-judgemental conversations about spaying and neutering and pet care with animal owners.
– What to do when you find a dog.  Debunking shelter myths.
– Some basic pet care words in Spanish to aide in conversations with Spanish speakers.
– Comprehensive listing of low-cost or free services available in the Houston/Harris County areas.

This class and resources will be geared towards dogs, but can be useful for cat lovers as well!

This can be a great opportunity for rescue groups to network and get to know each other.  Please share!

We hope to see you there!

This class will be held the 3rd Thursday of every month.  If you cannot make this date, look out for the next one!

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‘Skinny Vinnie’ Makes His Foster Home A Permanent Residence

'Skinny Vinny' makes his foster home a permanent residence

Sunday, June 19, 2016 06:25PM

A wiener dog that gained national attention for his pudgy frame — and again later for his incredible weight loss — finally has a family.

The husky dachshund arrived at his foster family’s home with the name ‘Fat Vincent’ but after he shed 38 pounds, he earned a new nickname: ‘Skinny Vinny.’

Fat no more

Now it appears that Skinny Vinny’s foster family has decided to keep him around permanently.  The dachshund recently was adopted by them.

Congrats on finding a permanent home, Skinny Vinny!


April 15th 2016

Local News Video   HERE

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This Is What Happens When The Pavement Is Too Hot For Your Dog

All-over-it dog lovers know the basics of keeping dogs safe in summer: Bring lots of water with you on walks, watch for the signs of your dog overheating and never, ever, ever leave a dog in the car — even on days that don’t seem that warm.

But it might come as a surprise to even the most type-A pup owners that the very pavement beneath your dog’s paws could be sizzling hot.  And hot pavement can have gruesome and painful consequences.

“Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws, so walk your dog on the grass if possible,” the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) urged. But sometimes it can be hard to tell.

Luckily, there’s a quick and easy test to see if the street temperature is safe enough for a walk with your dog.  Put the back of your hand on the pavement, and if you can’t keep it there for five seconds, it’s too hot for your pup’s feet.

If the pavement fails the test, walk your dog when the temperature drops a bit (if he can wait) or stay on the grass.  If walking your dog on hot pavement is unavoidable, there are things you can do to be prepared, like using special dog booties or dog paw wax designed to protect your dog’s sensitive paw pads from the heat.

Want to know more about how to keep dogs safe this summer?  Learn how to tell if your dog is overheating.

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Skinny Vinnie: The Overweight Dachshund Who Lost Half His Size And Gained A Forever Home

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After nearly a year of diet and exercise, Fat Vincent has transformed into Skinny Vinnie!

The 9-year-old Dachshund from K-9 Angels Rescue of Houston began his weight loss journey at 38 pounds last August, making him morbidly obese for a dog of his size.  Now the pup is walking with a cheerier swagger, weighing in at a healthy 15 pounds.

His foster owner Melissa Anderson, who recently decided to adopt him, tells PEOPLE he is a much happier dog now.

“He’s a very good example of strength and endurance,” Anderson, 54, says.  “All of the things that have happened to him — it kind of helps put your life in perspective.  We all marvel at his accomplishments because we’ve been here with the whole time and not for one day has he been reluctant or expressed any kind animosity about all of the things he’s had to do like limit his food and follow the rules of this house.”

Vinnie was rescued by Anderson and her family last August and she suspects one of the reasons he weighed so much was from eating non-dog food with his previous family.


“I typically go through the Starbucks drive-thru in the mornings and the first time I went through with him in the car, he absolutely freaked out,” Anderson previously told PEOPLE in December.  “He jumped up into the passenger seat and then he came over to the window.  I think he was probably getting a lot of fast food — when the owner went through he also got something.”

After agreeing to foster Vinnie, he was put on a healthier diet combined with swimming up to four to five times a week and walking for about an hour a day to not only lose weight, but also lower his cholesterol level.

Now Vinnie is much more mobile.

“I’ve got like four steps down to my yard and getting up and down those steps he couldn’t do,” Anderson says.  “So, I had to carry him down the steps and up the steps, but now he just zips right up them.  It’s really made a huge difference in his energy level.”

Vinnie has also experienced great change in his emotional being.  In December Anderson said the initial signs had pointed to depression.

“First of all, he didn’t eat for two days.  This is a huge dog that obviously has a tremendous appetite.  Then he goes under the covers and just pretty much stays there,” she explained.  “He still has a little bit of an occasional sadness to him.  He’s very happy when he’s out on walks, in the swimming pool, he loves to cuddle, but he gets his feelings hurt easily and he goes under the covers.”

Anderson says he would spend most of his day on his side barely lifting his head up.

“It was just really sad.”

But by mid-October, after a few months of exercise and a better diet, his spirits were lifted.

Anderson (who has three other Dachshunds) says her initial plan was to find him a forever home with another family, but she fell in love with him too much to give him away.


“I can’t imagine letting him go.  He’s always looking to see where I am and when I leave and come home, he’s the happiest dog in the house that I’m home,” she says.  “It’s just that feeling I have that he’s worried [about] when am I going to leave and never come back again.  I can’t do it.”

Anderson, who strongly advocates for dogs like Vinnie to be rescued from shelters, says he has also added a lot of happiness to the lives of her husband Mike, 62, and daughter Emily, 17.

“We just want him to know what a forever home is like,” Anderson says.  “I thought I could find him the best home ever with all the publicity he’s gotten — he’d probably be flying on private jets, you know.  But, I just feel like I don’t want him to go through it again.  I just really feel like he needs to stay right where he is.”

To learn more about Skinny Vinnie’s weight loss journey, pick up the current issue of PEOPLE Magazine — on newsstands now!

UPDATED 06/09/2016 AT 5:14 PM ET

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Brandon McMillan: Training Rescues, Unleashing New Rewards

OLD DOGS, NEW TRICKS:  A pet doesn’t have to come from a breeder to be properly trained. Conditioning a dog out of a shelter and into a home is part of its domestication.
What inspired you to work with rescue dogs?
Brandon McMillan:  I trained animals for film and television for 15 years. During that time I worked at a company that had very old-school thinking, where you always go to breeders for dogs — not rescues.  We had just lost our Rottweiler and were in the market for another one.  I convinced the owner of the company to let me go to the shelter and rescue a Rottie instead of going to a breeder.  There was a lot of pushback with that thinking but eventually, after about 20 arguments, he let me do it on one contingency: My job would be on the line if I were wrong.The next day I went down to the shelter and found a 1-year-old Rottie named Raven.  After a few months of training she was sent out on her first job and she knocked it out of the park.  In fact, she became one of our best working dogs.  Proving it wasn’t a fluke, I rescued a dozen or so more over the next few years till eventually our entire pack was rescues — and they were some of the best working dogs in the industry.  It’s safe to say I got to keep my job after that.

A NEW SHELTER: McMillan attests that when a dog has been saved from a shelter, they know they’ve been rescued and he’s happy to be a part of the healing process.

What is the biggest benefit to rescuing a shelter dog? 

I can attest from rescuing hundreds of dogs over the years that they know when they’ve been saved.  When a dog is suddenly thrown into a small concrete block cell with jail bars as a front door, it affects them big-time.  The longer they spend in that cell, the more it affects them, eventually altering their personality.  When you rescue them from a situation like this now you’re starting the healing process of what they just went through.  Time will heal them, and it all starts with a new home.  It’s a win-win for both.

What is the most challenging part of training dogs? 

No two are alike.  Dogs are like a thumbprint, so the method that might work on this dog doesn’t necessarily work on the next dog.  It’s almost like solving a riddle every time.  I usually have a game plan when I work with a dog, but that game plan is only good if the dog goes along with the entire plan.  Most likely, there will be some pushback on their end and I’ll need to instantly change the game plan without pausing for even a second.  I need to have a plan B, C and D already lined up, knowing that there’s a good chance this animal won’t learn off plan A.  That’s what I love about it: the challenge.  I like that it’s often not easy, because if it were easy, everyone would do it.

“My job is to teach an animal everything it needs to possibly know living in the domestic world.”

You’ve worked with many wild animals in the past. What has been your favorite? 

I like working with them all because they all require different methods.  Big cats are very fast so I have to make quick decisions when training them. Primates think a lot like us so it’s a chess game when I work with them.  Bears, believe it or not, are just like working a dog.  They’re very intelligent and very trainable and they love to learn new things.

But if I have to pick a favorite I’m going to have to go with the great whites.  Not that I can train them or anything, but I’ve dived with them for years and find them to be one of the most fascinating creatures this planet has ever produced.  I host a Shark Week show on Discovery every year about great whites, which has allowed me to not only work face to face with them but also study their behavior.  What I’ve come to realize is they’re not as scary as people think.  I feel the most at peace when I’m face to face with an 18-foot great white.

APPROPRIATE EMBRACE: Adopting and rescuing a dog is a great thing to do, but McMillan advises that the pup you choose suits both your lifestyle and theirs.

What is your favorite aspect of being a trainer? 

My job is to teach an animal everything it needs to possibly know living in the domestic world.  We as humans set rules for our dogs and the dogs are taught to follow our rules and guidelines.  I took a lot of different forms of martial arts for a lot of years.  What I noticed with every instructor I was a student under was their passion was teaching us everything they knew — from the details of the technique to the muscle memory, locking it into our bodies forever so we’d never forget it.  That’s the same rule I live by as an animal trainer.  I’m a technician that educates animals.  It’s a rare craft and I absolutely love doing it.

What advice would you give our readers who are thinking of adopting a dog? 

Be sure the dog is adequate for your lifestyle.  Don’t just adopt off aesthetics alone.  Sure, we all have an idea of the look we’re going for.  But make sure that dog is the right size for your home.  Make sure their personality complements your lifestyle.  Make sure their energy level is right for yours and most importantly make sure you have time for a dog.

I always tell people to take your time, don’t make any impulse decisions you might regret a week later because you didn’t think all of this through.  That’s the number one reason dogs are returned to the shelters — because people adopted them on an impulse decision, not thinking everything through.


Brandon McMillan Training Rescues Unleashing New Rewards

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