What Did Cornell Really Do With Rhoda Hogan’s $125,000 Bequest?

April 2016


New York State banned declawing in July 2019.

Please send a respectful email to these folks at Cornell and ask them what did they really do with Rhoda Hogan’s $100,000 and when are they going to use the remaining $25,000 to help us end declawing like Mrs Hogan wanted. Also ask them why they won’t support the NY anti-declawing legislation like Mrs Hogan wanted.

Bruce Kornreich, Director of Cornell Feline Health Center- bgk2@cornell.edu

FHC@cornell.edu  Cornell Feline Health Center

Emails for the Dean of Cornell Veterinary College, Lorin Warnick- (His assistants)  paj4@cornell.edu

Melissa Osgood- Asst. Dir. Media Relations  mmo59@cornell.edu

Meg Thompson, Director of the Cornell University Hospital for Animals- mst42@cornell.edu

Vet-hosp@cornell.edu  Cornell Vet Hospital


BORDERIn 2007 Rhoda A Hogan left a $125,000 bequest for, in her words, “An organization to be used to publicize and educate the public about the cruel effect of de-clawing cats and to support legislation forbidding it.” BORDER


Here is the letter from Cornell that Terry M. Knowles Assistant Director – Charitable Trusts Unit, New Hampshire sent me after I wouldn’t give up on trying to find out the truth about how Cornell used Rhoda Hogan’s money. Cornell explains what they did with the money in the letter.

Subject: RE: Rhoda Hogan Bequest

Dear Mr. Knowles,

Regarding your email of December 14, 2016: I am happy to provide you with the requested information about the Rhoda Hogan gift to the Feline Health Center (FHC) at Cornell University.

As you know, Ms. Hogan intended her gift to be used to educate the public about declawing and alternatives to surgery and to support prohibitions against the declawing of cats. Ms. Hogan’s attorney, Mr. Fred Hall, was tasked with finding an appropriate recipient. After reviewing several candidates, he chose the FHC.

Cornell does not typically take sides in legislative matters. When Mr. Hall met with the FHC Director at the time, Dr. James Richards, to discuss the possible gift, Dr. Richards was candid that Cornell would not advocate for prohibitions against declawing, but would focus instead on promoting alternatives. Mr. Hall, and the probate court, agreed with the educational approach (see Hogan gift agree.probate.pdf, and Hall Richards ltrs.pdf, attached).

The initial disbursement of $100,000 from the estate of Rhoda Hogan was used in accordance with the probate order for the production of six educational videos < videos >  about nonsurgical ways of preventing destructive scratching in cats. In addition to routine production and distribution costs, the funds supported staff time for researching the topic and preparing the scripts.

Dr. Richards was killed in a motorcycle accident before the second disbursement was spent. The money, in the amount of $25,500, remains in the FHC accounts. The Center’s current leadership intends to use the funds to support novel public outreach efforts to encourage non-surgical alternatives to declawing. They are actively evaluating the most effective means for carrying out this plan.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need additional information.

Best regards,

Claudia Wheatley
Sr. Public Affairs Officer
College of Veterinary Medicine
Cornell University

In April 2016 we received this email from the NH courts.

“Dear Ms. Shepler:

Thank you for your emails relative to the Rhoda A. Hogan Trust.  The Charitable Trusts Unit reviewed the matter and the following represents our findings:

The Last Will and Testament of Rhoda A. Hogan, paragraph FOURTH A, states “One-eighth [of the rest, residue and remainder of the estate] to be used to publicize and educate the public about the cruel effect of declawing cats and to support legislation forbidding it.”

Ms. Hogan did not specify a particular charity to receive the bequest, nor did she specify how the public was to be educated on the issue of declawing, and the task was therefore up to the Executor to choose a suitable institution.  Executor Hall performed an exhaustive search of appropriate charities and eventually chose the Cornell Feline Health Center.  The mission of the center is “The Cornell Feline Health Center is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of cats everywhere by education, research and outreach.”

By letter dated January 3, 2007 addressed to Attorney Hall, the Cornell Feline Health Center stated:  “Legislation that would forbid declawing is unlikely to become a reality but we’ve discovered that, with proper training, cats rarely require the procedure.  As stated in one of the client information pieces produced by the Center, ‘Declawing or permanent removal of the claws, should be considered only as a last resort when the above strategies have been unsuccessful, and in cases where a cat’s scratching would otherwise necessitate its removal from your home.’  This brochure provided in written format to thousands of cat owners yearly with text also available at [link to site which describes methods to redirect scratching].”  The letter goes on to state “Should the Center be a recipient of Ms. Hogan’s estate, we will use a portion to create an online educational video that discusses destructive scratching and ways to prevent it.  Web-based videos have the potential to reach tens of thousands of cat owners yearly, and if the methods to be described in the video are utilized, hundreds of thousands of cats are likely to avoid declawing.”

Attorney Hall was satisfied with the Center’s letter and made the article FOURTH A. distribution to the Cornell Feline Health Center.  The distribution was approved by the Probate Court in the acceptance of the Executor’s final accounting and necessary receipts.

The Center did produce videos entitled Managing Destructive Scratching Behavior in Cats which are available on their website.

In this case the Executor exercised his authority in selecting an appropriate recipient for the Hogan bequest.  The chosen institution, Cornell Feline Health Center clearly articulated in its 2007 letter to Executor Hall precisely how the money would be used.  The Center produced educational videos on the topic of destructive scratching behavior in cats.

Based upon our analysis, we do not find Cornell Feline Health Center violated the terms of the Hogan bequest.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact this office.

Terry M. Knowles

Assistant Director – Charitable Trusts Unit

Dept. of Attorney General, 33 Capitol Street

Concord, New Hampshire 03301″

   On May 7, 1912 a very special person was born named Rhoda Annette Hogan.  She was a true visionary and came into the world to make it a better place.

 I don’t know much about her life or her journey but I know enough about her to really love Rhoda A Hogan. I feel her energy, her heart and soul, and her passion for  what she had for all of felinekind.

  Rhoda A Hogan is an example of a noble, honest, and compassionate human being.

  Cats were near and dear to her heart and she wanted to help protect them and celebrate their awesomeness, even after she left this beautiful world in 2006 at the ripe age of 94 yrs old.

 She also wanted much of her savings to go to the, “care, feeding and medical needs of cats and to promote the prevention of cruelty to cats.”   Yep, her exact words.

  Places like Alley Cat Allies, New Hampshire SPCA, Cocheco Valley Humane Society, and the Northeast Animal Shelter are all still helping cats by Mrs Hogan’s financial generosity.

Rhoda A Hogan was on the right side of cat history before it was popular to do so!!!

Rhoda A Hogan wanted an 1/8th of her estate to be a bequest of $125,000 for, “An organization to be used to publicize and educate the public about the cruel effect of de-clawing cats and to support legislation forbidding it.”

Banner Declawed Kitties one row

 Yep, she knew declawing was wrong and really bad for cats and she specifically wanted this large sum of money to go to educating cat owners about how bad it is and the humane alternatives AND to support bills that would ban declawing.

Rhoda A Hogan wanted to help make declawing illegal in America, even after she was gone.

Her, 81 yr old friend, Fred Hall, acting as her executor, looked far and wide for organizations that would best fit Mrs Hogan’s wishes of helping to end declawing, and narrowed it down to four.

  Each organization was required to put together a proposal explaining in detail as to what they would do with this large sum of money and how they would help her declawing wishes.

  After reading the proposals, the executor felt that the Cornell Feline Health Center had in place programming he deemed appropriate, thereby avoiding any part of the Hogan bequest going to start-up costs.

(You can read the details below as to what the 4 choices for the organizations were)

 Here is the only declawing material I can find that Cornell did with Mrs Hogan’s money. Cornell Videos-Managing Destructive Scratching in Cats

(UPDATE 4/12/16) Some of you are reaching out to them to ask them what other declawing material was made with Mrs Hogan’s gift and they are sending you this link to a brochure that is copyrighted at the bottom of this page, in 2002 (5 yrs before Mrs Hogan donated her large sum of money) Feline Destructive Behavior brochure 2002


 My friends, I feel a strong connection to Mrs Hogan and feel she is inspiring me to help find some answers and help save more cats from being declawed ( her exact wishes)
My intuition is telling me that something just doesn’t feel right.
Am I missing something?
Is this what her $125,000 went to? 6 short videos with common knowledge material in them, they took two days to make in the filming, and in my professional opinion cost no more than $3000 to make, and they are only on Cornell’s VeritasDVM site and YouTube with less than 900 views?

When asked about this large sum of money, Cornell said that they made these 6 short, simple videos for $100,000. However, the behaviorist for the shelter medicine program who wrote all the material for these videos and narrated them, told us, “I don’t even remember if I was paid to do the videos but if I was it was only a few hundred dollars for my time. We did the video in two days.”

This poor woman, Rhoda A Hogan, who left the money for this specific cause, is now rolling over in her grave because Cornell,  home of New York State’s vet school, doesn’t support the legislation in New York State to ban declawing and seemed to have not done much with the money she left them.
 It seems that Rhoda A Hogan, her 81 yr old executor friend, and all of felinekind lost out by such a weak use of her generous gift.
So egregious to not honor the final wishes of the dead. What do you think?
  How would you have used this $125,000 if Rhoda A Hogan left it for you? How would you have carried on her legacy and wishes?
  Maybe you can find out for me what else Cornell did with this money because for some strange reason they won’t tell me, even though I could disseminate all the valuable, informative material and information they made and get it out to thousands of people and help save cats from having this inhumane procedure done to them. Just like what Mrs Hogan wanted.
 Why is Cornell being so secretive and not simply letting me know about this valuable declawing information they said they would make with Rhoda Hogan’s money back when they passionately wrote the proposal to the executor in 2007 about why they would be the best candidate for this large sum of money?
Do YOU think that it’s because these 6 short videos are all that Cornell did with Mrs Hogans important and specific bequest?
 Rhoda A Hogan and all of us, know that declawing is a very, very serious and urgent issue because so many cats are unnecessarily going through such terrible pain, suffering, and harm and it and should end completely.
(Cornell’s official declawing position is below)
Do you think Rhoda A Hogan would be happy with how her money was used?

 If you can find out any answers or more about this amazing woman, please email me at citythekitty@gmail.com

Also maybe you can respectfully find more of the declawing information they made from her $125,000, so we can honor Mrs Hogan’s wishes and help save more and more kitties by getting it out to the world! Please be respectful and courteous when you ask them and maybe you will have better luck than I have.

Cornell Feline Health Center.

Email- FHC@cornell.edu  or their donation email- cornell_fund@cornell.edu





Mrs Rhoda A Hogan’s lawyer, acting as Executor of her Estate, did an extensive search for organizations that would qualify in meeting the qualifications mentioned and solicited proposals from these organizations as to how each might use funds from her estate.
The exact information presented to the courts was as follows;

  • 1) A Californian non-profit foundation, most closely meets the criteria overall. It conducts a publicity and education campaign in Ca and has supported local and state legislation in Ca, and has an outreach program to encourage legislation in other states, including Florida and Michigan.   (The Paw Project)


  • 2) A feline health center of an educational institution, was founded more than thirty years ago with the mission to “aspire the health and well being of cats everywhere.” It has well-established programs including a website, which has the potential to reach tens of thousands of cat owners annually. This organization does not lobby for legislation. It would use this grant to produce an educational video which would reach thousands of cat owners annually as well as written materials for distribution, all focused on the ways of avoiding or preventing the declawing of cats.  (Cornell Feline Health Center)


  • 3) A coalition of New Hampshire based humane societies, proposed to being a start up program in NH to publicize and educate the public of the inhumane and cruel practice of declawing cats and the ways and means of avoiding such treatment. This would be done through the production and distribution of written materials and the distribution of materials for publication. The support of legislation would also be an objective.

        4)  fourth applicant, an institutional dept seems less likely to meet the criteria. (Possibly Tufts University)


From the Court Order:

This provision of the will leaves 1/8 of the residuary estate to, ” an organization to be used to publicize and educate the public about the cruel effect of declawing cats and to support legislation forbidding it.”

The executor, having made a do and diligent effort to ascertain and identify what organizations might meet the condition of the bequest, has identified the Feline Health Center of Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine as perhaps best meeting the test.  It is understood that it would use the money to develop an extensive research program focused on educating veterinarians about behavioral alternatives to, and ethical and welfare consequences of, declawing.


 In a proposal letter dated January 3, 2007 addressed to Attorney Fred Hall, the Cornell Feline Health Center stated:  “Legislation that would forbid declawing is unlikely to become a reality but we’ve discovered that, with proper training, cats rarely require the procedure.”
 “Should the Center be a recipient of Ms. Hogan’s estate, we will use a portion to create an online educational video that discusses destructive scratching and ways to prevent it.  Web-based videos have the potential to reach tens of thousands of cat owners yearly, and if the methods to be described in the video are utilized, hundreds of thousands of cats are likely to avoid declawing.”


Cornell 4

I wanted to get to the bottom of this mystery and find out what was this amazing person’s money used for at Cornell.
I respectfully reached out to the senior Public Affairs Officer of the College of Veterinary Medicine Cornell University about Rhoda’s bequest and asked if Cornell would support the bill in NY since this is exactly what Mrs Rhoda Hogan wanted.



Our position on the declawing of cats is as follows, The Cornell Feline Health Center and the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine are dedicated to the health and well-being of all cats. Both college and center are firmly opposed to declawing cats as elective surgery to prevent destructive scratching. Like the American Veterinary Medical Association, we emphasize educating owners about the surgery and assisting them in pursuing alternatives such as nail caps, scratching posts and behavior modification.

We believe that declawing be considered as a last resort, and only in cases where the alternatives have failed and the cat is at risk of being euthanized or abandoned, or when the health of a member of the household could be endangered by cat scratches.

The College believes the surgery should be considered ONLY if all other methods have failed. Even then, the College would argue against doing it.

Donor arrangements and agreements around any bequest or gift to Cornell are private and confidential, and we do not discuss those. However, I can say that the final agreement did not include lobbying to ban declawing in New York State.

If Ms. Hogan’s estate wishes to know how her gift was used, I am happy to help them find out.

The College will not take a position on legislation banning declawing.”

Claudia Wheatley

Sr. Public Affairs Officer

College of Veterinary Medicine

Cornell University


So here are my findings after months of investigating.

This is a screenshot from the 2015 vitae (resume) of one of the veterinarians who did this “study.”  Rhoda Hogan’s $100,000 was listed as a completed research support study on Jodi Korich’s vitae.


I searched and searched online, called Cornell Feline Health Center, and Cornell library asking if they have this important research study. None of them could find it.

I finally received an email from the veterinarian who did this “study” and has it posted on her vitae,  J.Korich and she said,

“The project you are referencing was not a study, but rather a series of educational videos for cat owners to teach them how to manage scratching behavior in cats. You can find the videos online at http://partnersah.vet.cornell.edu/pet-owners/destructive-scratching-cats

For more information, I suggest you contact the Cornell Feline Health Center.”
Jodi A. Korich, DVM Director
Clinical Assistant Professor
Center for Educational Technologies
College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences
Texas A&M University

I also received an reply from the woman who is in the videos, Kelley Bollen, and was the cat behaviorist for the shelter medicine program at Cornell. She said, ” I was just the person they contacted to do the videos.  They actually contacted me to just write the content (which I did) and then they ended up asking me to do the videos.  I don’t even remember if I was paid to do the videos but if I was it was only a few hundred dollars for my time.  We did the video in two days.”
Yet Cornell says the 6 short videos cost $100,000 to make.


At the end of this extensive investigative search I’m sadly left with this. All I can find that Rhoda A Hogan’s gift of $125,000 was used for were these 6 short videos, on two different sites,  that don’t seem to have many views and that have common knowledge information in them.

Here on Cornell’s Feline Health Center’s website Managing Destructive Scratching Behavior in Cats

One place is on YouTube with 869 views  Managing Destructive Scratching Behavior in Cats

Here is another mention of how Rhoda Hogan’s bequest was used from Cornell’s website.

Cornell 3

Also when you call random veterinary practices in New York, right near Cornell, they say they have not heard about any videos or written material or brochures for veterinarians or cat owners from Cornell in regards to declawing or scratching behavior issues.  The good news though is in this search, there are two veterinary practices that said they do NOT declaw cats.


Rhoda Hogan even left some of her savings for educational scholarships with the Rhoda A Hogan Scholarship at Paul College and a lecture series in her husbands name called Dr John A Hogan Distinguished Lecture Series at the University of New Hampshire. She also left money to to to the Fire Dept. and Police Dept. in her hometown of Durham, NH. What a great woman!
  She was a grassroots leader in the 50’s and 60’s and was the state of New Hampshire’s chairperson for the “Dollars for Democrats Drive.” She really wanted to make a difference in this world and was a champion for many.

Rhoda A Hogan obituary.
DURHAM — Rhoda A. Hogan, 94, of Madbury Road, died Aug. 4, 2006 at her home in Durham.
Born in Washington, D.C., on May 7, 1912, she was the daughter of Clarence and Hope (Ford) Doyle.
She married John A. Hogan in San Francisco, Calif., on Sept. 7, 1936. He was professor emeritus of economics at the University of New Hampshire, prior to his death in 1981.
Rhoda graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University, Medford, Mass., in 1945, and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
She lived in Denver, Colo., and Cambridge, Mass., before moving to Durham in 1947.
She was active in the League of Women Voters for many years and served as N.H. president for four years. In 1960 she ran for the N.H. Legislature from Durham.
During the summer she lived on Martha’s Vineyard and wintered in Sun City, Ariz., until 1986.
She was a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church, and the Weavers’ Guild of Boston.
Rhoda enjoyed music, playing the piano, singing, politics, weaving, cooking, flower gardening, reading and photography.
She was predeceased by her husband and leaves no family.
A graveside service will be held on Tuesday at 2 p.m. in the Durham Cemetery.
Rather than flowers, should friends desire memorials may be made to Cocheco Valley Humane Society or the charity of one’s choice.
The Kent & Pelczar Funeral Home, 77 Exeter St., Newmarket, is assisting with arrangements.