All My Children Wear Fur Coats with Peggy Hoyt

Center For Pet Safety - Lindsey Wolko

April 18, 2023 Lindsey Wolko Episode 11
Center For Pet Safety - Lindsey Wolko
All My Children Wear Fur Coats with Peggy Hoyt
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All My Children Wear Fur Coats with Peggy Hoyt
Center For Pet Safety - Lindsey Wolko
Apr 18, 2023 Episode 11
Lindsey Wolko

This week on All My Children Wear Fur Coats, we had the pleasure of speaking with  Lindsey Wolko, founder of the Center for Pet Safety. The story of The Center for Pet Safety continues to serve as a reminder that pet safety is essential. It underscores the significance of recognizing the importance of pet safety, being informed about proper pet safety measures, and taking necessary steps to protect our pets during travel.

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This week on All My Children Wear Fur Coats, we had the pleasure of speaking with  Lindsey Wolko, founder of the Center for Pet Safety. The story of The Center for Pet Safety continues to serve as a reminder that pet safety is essential. It underscores the significance of recognizing the importance of pet safety, being informed about proper pet safety measures, and taking necessary steps to protect our pets during travel.

Support the Show.

Welcome to All My Children

Wear Fur Coats with Peggy Hoyt.

Our goal is to keep loved pets in loving

homes by educating pet parents about the importance of

ensuring every pet has a forever home.

For more information about creating a legacy for

your pet or to listen to archive shows,

visit or

Join your host, author, estate planning

attorney and animal advocate, Peggy Hoyt.

Hello, pet lovers.

Welcome to All My Children Wear Fur Coats.

I'm your host, Peggy Hoyt.

This show is brought to you by the

law offices of Hoyt and Brian, where we

create estate plans for pets and their people.

Also brought to you by Animal Care

Trust USA, a national nonprofit dedicated to

keeping loved pets in loving homes.

We do this by educating pet parents about the importance

of getting a pet trust for their loved pet.

We also provide trustee services, and today it is

our absolute pleasure to introduce you to our guest.

Her name is Lindsey Wolko and she is

the founder of the Center for Pet Safety.

Welcome, Lindsey. Hey, Peggy.

Thank you for having me.

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So I'm looking forward to learning all about

this, but I would like to tell our

listeners a little bit about you.

So, Lindsey is a long term pet safety advocate.

She leads a mission that is personal to every pet

owner with a keen understanding of the pet industry.

She authors safety standards for pet products,

independently certifies pet products, counsels pet product

manufacturers around the globe, and works tirelessly

for consumer and companion animal safety.

Lindsey has a background in project program management

as well as governance and controls development.

She holds a bachelor's degree from George Mason

University and she currently leads the research division

of the Center for Pet Safety.

That's a mouthful, but oh my gosh, this is

such an important topic, the safety of our pets.

Yeah, it's amazing to me.

We talk to pet owners on a regular basis

and one of the things we tell them is

like, the pet industry is so highly unregulated.

They think that products have to go

through testing and meet safety standards and

nothing could be further from the truth.

It's really the Wild West.

So that's where we come in and we're

working to improve the safety of the pet

products and protect pet owners and their pets.

So because we think of our pets as

being like our children in some instances.

I guess that's where we get the idea that

anything that we might buy for our pets has

already been approved or tested by somebody.

That is correct.

A lot of people correlate the pet industry with

the children's industries, but they are completely separate.

There are federal regulations for children's

products, but there are no regulations,

largely no regulations for pet products.

Well, and I think we all have at least one story,

probably about a product that we purchased for a pet that

turned out to be unsafe in one way, shape, or form.

I'm thinking of a stuffed animal that I bought for my

dogs and for anybody out there who has a dachshund.

They probably know that dachshunds destroy

everything, and if it comes with

a squeaker, it is destroyed instantly.

But this particular toy not only had a squeaker,

but it had things that it was stuffed with

that you wouldn't want anywhere near any living being.

So that kind of put the onus on

me to say, I got to be really

careful about what I'm bringing into my household. Yeah.

And we get reports from all around the globe

when pet owners have an incident with a product,

we do get a lot of toy reports coming

in, but, yeah, it's frightening when we get the

same stories over and over and over again.

I never knew this could happen.

And the stories we get back about how the

manufacturers themselves are managing problematic issues and reports is

very concerning to us on many, many levels.

So it is challenging.

Okay, so you have obviously dedicated your life's work to this,

but I need to know, how did you get started and

what prompted you to found the center for pet safety?

So back in around 2004 or

so, I adopted this dog, Maggie. She was English.

Cocker spaniel.

I had her brother and she came to live with me.

I also had another dog, and I didn't have

enough room in my car for three crates.

So Maggie was kind of wandering around the car

all the time while I was driving between my

home and McLean and I stopped by.

I knew it was unsafe because I was paying more

attention to where she was on the road when I

was on the road with her than I was paying

attention to what was going on in front of me.

So I stopped by the local big box

pet store, picked up a safety harness.

On the safety harness, it said it would protect me and

it would protect her if we were in a crash.

So I said, I'm a good pet owner.

I'm doing the right thing. Yay.

We got her trained for it.

It was all good.

And then I had to slam on the brakes to avoid

a crash one morning, and all I heard was screaming.

So it was a horrific incident.

The only thing that kept Maggie from breaking her

neck was the fact that she got tangled in

this contraption, and it prevented her from hitting the

back of the front seat head first.

But she did have strained hips and strained spine and

was on limited mobility for a while and painkillers.

And I sat down and I thought this was

such a traumatic incident and so dangerous, too, that

a few months later, I decided I wanted to

run a pilot study on safety harnesses.

So I paid for that out of my own pocket.

We sampled, I don't know, twelve or 15

different harnesses, picked the ones that either had

marketing, they said that they were crash tested,

or they looked to be the strongest.

We engaged a bunch of engineers and said, which

ones would we test as a control group?

And we ended up having a 100% failure rate when we

put these things through their paces in a crash test.

So it really was very eye opening.

And even the techs at the lab were absolutely

blown away that manufacturers could market things as crash

tested, but not have a safety standard, defined and

goals that the product needs to meet.

So that's how we got started, and

it's kind of gone crazy since then.

Well, that is a sad start, of course, that your

dog got hurt in an accident, but it was very

propitious that that happened at that time because it set

you up for helping all of these other pet owners.

And I noticed on your website, and I

want folks to know you can go to

the, that one of your mottos is,

don't buy things that are not CPS certified.

And so I think that's going to be

a good lesson for a lot of us.

Do you know off the top of your

head how many items you have certified?

I'd have to go look at our website now.

You've got to understand that if you look at

the child seat industry, they started many years ago.

They used to have harnesses for children to

wear so they could toddle around the back

seat, but they don't have those anymore.

So we're kind of at that stage

right now in the pet industry.

We're bringing scientific examination to the forefront and

trying to get more pet manufacturers, pet product

manufacturers, and even those that are outside of

that industry that are manufacturing pet products.

We've got luggage companies, we've got

engineering companies, all these people that

are working to improve safety.

But we're having to educate everyone on what

makes a pet travel product the safest.

And we want to protect you, the driver, your

passengers, and then give your pet the best possible

chance of survival if you are in a crash.

So that's why there aren't that many brands that are

certified right now, because we've done over 300 some odd

crash tests, and the majority of them fail. Oh, my gosh.

Well, and I notice you have specific areas

on your website for harnesses crates and carriers.

There's also recall information, which I think is great, or

advisory information that pet owners can look to as well

as you have your whole test results area. Yeah.

And pet owners really want to focus in

on the upper left hand side of the

website, and it's called CPS Certified.

We are in the process of developing a new site.

We should have that live over the next few months.

But the CPS Certified, those are

the products that have passed testing.

And those are the ones where if a brand goes

through the effort and they sign up for this program,

there's an oversight component to this so that we do

regular check ins, we talk to the brands.

They have to recertify.

They have to notify us that they make changes

to their product just so that we can continue

ensuring that those products are as safe as possible.

Thank you for doing that, by the way.

I really appreciate it.

As a dog owner of six dogs and four horses

and two cats, we're not specifically talking about horses today.

But obviously there's a lot related to horse safety

as well because we're asking horses to get in

boxes on four wheels and ride down the highway.

Yeah, when we first started out, we had a

lot of the equine industry reach out to us

to say, hey, we need to start doing testing.

We want to understand the loads that the horses

go through when they're traveling in these things.

Where I live, I'm out in horse country in Virginia.

And so we've got some phenomenal resources.

I have been out to talk to some of them,

but we just need the funding for those programs.

And if we have the funding in

place, we can absolutely do those studies

to get that information to the manufacturers.

That's really great.

There's so much I want to ask you about.

I almost don't know where to go here because it

isn't just about traveling down the highway with our pets.

There's so many other ways that safety comes into play.

And you're in Virginia and I'm in Florida, but

we are approaching summer all over the United States.

And summer is a very dangerous time for

animals for a lot of reasons, not the

least of which is dogs and vehicles.

Do you want to talk about that? Yeah.

Hot cars kill.

And we tell pet owners that all the time.

It's like never ever leave your dog or your

cat or any pet or child in your vehicle.

If you have to walk away from that

vehicle, that pet needs to come with you.

Or you just leave them at home.

If they cannot come with you, leave

them in an air conditioned environment.

They will be fine.

A lot of people feel their pets need to

come with them everywhere during the summer months.

It is critical that they stay

in an air conditioned environment. Agree.

And I'm not a spokesperson for Tesla, but one of

the things that I like about the Tesla vehicles and

I don't own one is that little message that you

can set the car to dog mode and it will.

Keep the air conditioning running.

And it places an announcement on the computer screen

so that if someone looks in, it says what

the temperature in the car is and that my

pet owner will be right back.

Yeah, but we worry about some of those technologies.

They're imperfect.

They are imperfect.

And so we have not tested dog mode from Tesla.

We have reached out to Tesla, but at

the end of the day, they're new technologies,

and those technologies sometimes have challenges.

So I would hate for any pet owner to rely

on something that's new and innovative and then for them

to come out to their car thinking that their dog's

fine and unfortunately, they're not find that they're not, right?


Well, and of course, in Florida, we do hear horror stories

all the time about children left in cars, hot cars, much

more than I mean, the pets don't tend to make the

news like the kids do, but that is a big one,

and certainly that's right around the corner for us.

Other things, I don't know if you address these or

not, but what about, like, fireworks on 4 July?

Is that involved in fireworks are

very frightening to some pets.

If you go out to any event or you're

going to be in a neighborhood where they're doing

fireworks, if you take your pet outside, you want

to make sure that they are on a leash.

We recommend that you leave them again in an

air conditioned environment, especially during the summer months.

But you can turn the television on loud.

You can give them, put them in their

crate so that you know they're safe.

Contain your cats.

Make sure that they're not a flight risk.

I like to have two doors

between the outside and my pets.

So it's one of those things you just need

to use a high level of safety precautions.

And I have a dog who's terrified of thunder

and fireworks, and he's like, hold me, hold me

when we start getting loud noises, and we turn

up the volume on the television.

And it really does help kind

of minimize the distraction level.

But I think with the thunderstorms and things,

they can actually feel the electricity in the

air, so it doesn't really help for those.

But the fireworks, it definitely does. Yeah.

I have to say that I noticed when one of my

little dogs got older and lost her hearing, that it was

kind of a blessing in disguise for thunderstorms and fireworks.

Yeah, it is a frightening time for them.

And plus a lot of people that had military

service as well, they have PTSD, and that can

raise all sorts of problems for them.

So just be kind to your neighbors and

make sure it's not going to bother anyone.

The other thing, and you may have resources for

this, but in Florida, of course, we have hurricanes,

and our hurricane season is pretty long.

And so having to evacuate with your pets, whether

it's for a hurricane or any other kind of

natural disaster, what can you tell us about that?

Well, if you come to our website,

you can sign up right now.

If you sign up for the newsletter, and I think we

also have it as a resource on another page, but you

can get a copy of our disaster preparedness guide.

So we actually have checklists in there

that you need to be prepared.

We have guides on first aid kits.

We have all sorts of information, but we

also have things that you can print out.

So if you do have to evacuate, you can make

the first responders jobs a lot easier by posting something

on your front door so they know that there are

no pets, there are no people inside.

So there's a lot of things that you need to

be aware of if you are in an area that

is frequented by troublesome storms, whether that be hurricanes or

snowstorms or whatever, but just be aware that we do

have some resources available for you.

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Well, it looks like you have a ton of

resources actually, on your website where I can see

me going down a rabbit hole here for sure.

We'll hopefully make it a lot

easier with our new website.

We're trying to streamline it because there

is so much information in there.

Well, it's all good information.

I'm looking at your frequently asked questions.

Let's see.

And so you have the certification for kennels and

travel products, those kinds of things for dogs.

I probably am an offender when it comes to that because

I just mentioned to you earlier that I was traveling this

week with six dogs in my vehicle, none of whom were

in a crate or tethered in any way, shape, or form.

Yeah, that can be a little challenging.

And you have to train them

all to acclimate to products.

So we do recommend an acclimation process, but the

more you know, the better you do so.

It's one of those things.

We do get reports of unfortunate incidents

where pets are ejected from vehicles.

You never know when that crash is coming.

I don't want to be all doom and gloom, but

you really do have to prepare for unfortunate incident.

That's why we have passenger safety devices

and vehicles like seatbelts and child seats.

They have to meet certain requirements.

And like I said, these products will give

your pet the best possible chance of survival

if you do get into an unfortunate incident.

Okay, well, I will be definitely researching that.

I also like some of your tips for traveling with pets.

First and foremost is make sure they're

up to date with their vaccinations and

flea and tick and heartworm treatments.

I think that almost goes without saying. Yeah.

We want pet owners to be aware, and then some

jurisdictions do have certain requirements, and so you want to

make sure that you research and if you're traveling with

your pets, we also have links to resources where you

can find emergency veterinary clinics or other vets in case

you need them in your destination location.

That's something pet owners really

don't think about too much. That is true.

We don't really think about that because we think that

everybody's going to be healthy and that we'll be back

in our own environment with our own veterinarians.

But yes, that's very important and

thank you for that resource.

One of the other suggestions is to

make sure your pets are microchipped.

That way, if you do get separated, there's

a way to reunite you with your pet.

Yeah, and that's something that is very

important, especially when you travel or when

you're out and about with your pet.

Pet owners don't think about pet theft,

and that is on the rise, especially

for smaller dogs that are easily concealed.

So you just want to be very cautious.

Always microchip your pet.

They will typically do that during your, you know,

if you take them in for a spay. Neuter.

You know, I brought a new puppy home recently and she

was microchip before I picked her up at the airport.


Very responsible breeder there.

I always have to laugh because my dogs are funny.

I don't feed them before we leave on a trip

because I don't want anybody to have a tummy upset.

But they do like to have little snacks or treats

along the way and of course, offering them water.

But they're really funny about drinking water

when we're in the vehicle, they tend

to turn their nose up at it.

We typically recommend against feeding or watering

while you are in active travel mode.

So if you are actively driving and if you stop

and take a break, pull over to one of the

rest stops or to an outside area like a shopping

mall or something, just to kind of stretch your legs

and let your dogs relieve themselves outside that point.

That would be a safer place to feed

and treat them and offer them water.

We're concerned when you're traveling that they could

choke on something, and that becomes a distraction.

And that's one of the reasons we don't recommend

that you bring toys and give them toys or

chew toys or anything while you're traveling.

While it may seem like a good idea,

they can become choking hazards, and that distracts

you from driving, and it's better to wait

until you're at a stationary location.

Well, and I automatically don't give them treats or toys

in the car just because with six traveling with six

dogs, more than choking, I have a fighting hazard.

Yeah, that happens, too.

They always get a little grumpy if somebody gets

in a little too close into their space, too.

It's almost like kids saying, mom, she's touching me.


My dachshund, in particular, gets a little grumpy if

people get into her space a little too much.

But I like the idea, too, of bringing the

medical records, lists of medications, making sure that they

do also have callers with name tags.

Everything you can do helps a little, right? Yeah.

And we have those resources for the medical records.

We have things that you can print out to help

compile them and just carry something in your wallet even,

so that if you need to reference it, you can.

So we try to make it as small

and compact as possible, so hopefully it'll be

a helpful resource for your listeners.

Well, and I hate talking about doom and gloom,

like you said, but one of the things that

I promote as well is making sure that we

include our pets as part of our estate plan.

So God forbid something would happen on a trip

and something would happen to the pet parent.

You do want to have those identification cards in your

wallet so somebody would know who to call to come

get the pets as a short term or a long

term pet caregiver, and then in the off chance that

the pet parent actually dies, having then that long term

care plan for the pets.

Yeah, that's something that I'm personally

currently working on for mine.

I already have emergency contacts set up, so if

I land in the hospital for any reason, one

phone call sets everything in motion, and that way

we have coverage for the dogs.

I have family members that have been notified.

I have my vet has been notified on who is allowed

to make certain requests on behalf of me for my pets.

So we've got all those things in place, but now

I have to put together the trust to ensure that

if something does happen to me, that the financial responsibilities

are carried through my estate very important.

So thank you for doing that as well.

All right, so you are a nonprofit organization? We are.

We're a 501c3.

And so we do research, we do advocacy, and

we educate so it's a big undertaking and we're

just trying right now to keep things moving forward

and it is a big undertaking.

So tell our listeners how they can help.

Lindsey well, with the pandemic and

everything so donations have slowed, definitely.

If you can afford a donation to Center

for Pet Safety, it is tax deductible.

Check with your tax advisor.

But we are a 501c3 nonprofit organization.

You can also help by spreading

the word about the mission. Right.

So most pet owners don't even know that we exist.

And we had enormous amount of coverage in

2013 and 15 thanks to Subaru of America.

They sponsored some of our early research and we

were able to reach out across the globe.

That's how people all around the world know about us.

But it's just the majority of pet owners,

really, they have no idea we even exist.

I have to admit I didn't.

And I was very excited to learn about your organization

and to be able to share it with our listeners.

And of course, if they want more information, they

can visit the website and find the blog

that we're going to do on you.

They can go to your website at and I think

this will be a really good marriage of two

organizations that have as their mission keeping pets safe.

I think it sounds like a great opportunity to

spread the word and just make sure pet owners

understand the resources that are out there to support

them on their pet owning journey. Absolutely.

Thank you so much. Lindsay.

So what would you leave us with today?

I would say let's focus on it is spring travel.

Right now, everybody's hopping in

the car and traveling.

So if you have pets, please restrain or contain them.

Go to

You can find the CPS certified tab and you can

see all of the products that have passed testing.

Those will give your pets the best possible chance of

survival if you are in a crash or a sudden

stop and that'll help protect you and your passengers too.


Thank you so much.

We really appreciate you.

And to our listeners, we appreciate you as well,

and we hope you'll join us next time.

And you know my motto until

there are none, please adopt one.

And till later, happy tale.

Thank you for joining us on All My Children.

Wear fur coats with your host, Peggy Hoyt.

We hope you learned something valuable

for the benefit of your pet.

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homes by educating pet parents about the importance

of ensuring every pet has a forever home.

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