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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkNews from Around the Americas | July 2005 

Hawaiian Pets Gain Right of Inheritance
email this pageprint this pageemail usTara Godvin - Associated Press

Toby, a Bichon Frise held by his owner Emily Gardner, shakes hands with Gov. Linda Lingle at signing of a bill Gardner helped draft.
Honolulu The audience was eager for the governor to put pen to paper. Some drooled. Catching the spirit of excitement, a few even lost control and barked.

Canines of all sizes and a spotted rabbit named Roxy were among those gathered Friday at the Capitol to watch Gov. Linda Lingle sign into law a measure that allows residents to leave a trust for the care of their dog, cat, or other domestic animal.

Lingle's two cats, Nani Girl and Stripes, were not in attendance.

"As you know cats don't do as well in public settings like this as dogs do," Lingle said.

Friday also marked National "Take Your Pet to Work Day." Several legislators and a number of other workers showed off their four-legged friends, who mostly behaved.

"These aren't just pets. These are a part of the family. You miss them when you're away. You worry about them. They really are important parts of your life," Lingle said.

Animal law attorney Emily Gardner helped draft the original bill. Garner became attracted to the issue while visiting elderly long-term care patients at St. Francis Hospital with her dog, Toby, who works as a therapy dog.

Some of the residents told her they were concerned about their animals and wanted to be able to provide for them after they died.

"I had to tell them that, unfortunately, that the way the law was currently written there was no legally enforceable means for them to do that," said Gardner, as she cradled Toby.

Researching the state's options, Gardner said she found 20 states had legally enforceable trust laws for pets.

"So why not Hawaii? And now Hawaii does," she said.

But for those concerned that the new law might mean their rich, slightly daffy uncle might now leave his empire to his beloved little Fifi, the law has attempted to address those fears.

A court can reduce the amount transferred to a trust "if it determines that the amount substantially exceeds the amount required for the intended use and the court finds that there will be no substantial adverse impact in the care, maintenance, health, or appearance of the designated domestic or pet animal."

But it might also help to be a trustee.

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