About Us

Who are we?
The Center for Pet Safety is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit research and advocacy organization dedicated to companion animal and consumer safety.
  • The Center for Pet Safety is an independent safety science entity leading a unique mission for companion animals and their owners.
  • Our organization was developed after 8 years of pet product industry and consumer research.

Center for Pet Safety – Presentation with AKC Canine Health Foundation from CPS on Vimeo.

What do we do?
Currently, CPS is focusing on Pet Travel Safety.  Using scientific testing and Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard specifications, we study pet products and establish criteria and test protocols to measure whether pet safety products provide the protection claimed by advocates and intended by the manufacturer.
  • We conduct rigorous crash testing on commonly available pet safety products using realistic, specially designed, crash test dogs.
  • Although CPS does not directly impact legislation, our organization advocates for meaningful standards leading to safer products that protect animals and improve travel safety for everyone in the vehicle.
  • We do not use live animals in our crash testing.
  • We are not affiliated with the pet product industry.
  • We do not endorse products.
Why we do what we do….
  • If a pet travel product fails in an automobile accident, not only can the pet be injured or killed, but the human passengers are also be at risk for injury or death.
  • In the US there are no performance standards or test protocols for many classes of pet product.
  • Manufacturers are not required to test products before going to market for many classes of pet product – including pet travel products!
  • There is no oversight agent for the pet product industry outside of the FDA and USDA for consumable products (food and treats) and pharmaceuticals.
  • Some manufacturers claim to test their products, but with the absence of test standards, these claims cannot be substantiated.
What products are we currently researching?
  • The Center for Pet Safety is actively researching pet travel product performance  including harnesses, crates, carriers, barriers and miscellaneous travel products.
  • We are actively working on standards and test protocol development for this class of pet product.
  • We plan to study other product categories in the future and provide continuing oversight of the pet product industry.

Our Team:

Lindsey A. Wolko, Founder/CEO.  A long-term pet safety advocate, Ms. Wolko led the pet safety mission at Canine Commuter from 2004 – 2011.  During that time she also acted as a consultant for numerous pet product manufacturers on product design, quality, performance, consumer communications and marketing efforts.  In 2011, in response to scientific product testing results, she closed Canine Commuter and launched the Center for Pet Safety.  Ms. Wolko is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers and holds a bachelors degree from George Mason University.  She currently leads the product research division of CPS.

Jane Worth Luxenberg, Board of Directors.   A former SBDC Director and Business Counselor, Ms. Luxenberg helps to manage the day to day business of CPS.  Ms. Luxenberg holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Cleveland State University.

Lara Miller, Board of Directors.  Ms. Miller joined the Center for Pet Safety Board of Directors after serving as a volunteer with our organization.  She has a Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering from The Catholic University of America and a Masters of Science in Systems Engineering from George Washington University.  She is a certified Project Management Professional and an adjunct professor with American Military University teaching STEM courses.

Paul Grzemski, Board of Directors.   A longtime employee of Navistar, Mr. Grzemski assists with the oversight of the CPS financials. Mr. Grzemski is a Certified Public Accountant and holds a Masters Degree in Accounting from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Leslie Wolko, Creative Director.   A founding member of the Center for Pet Safety, Ms. Wolko lends her creative expertise to the CPS mission. Ms. Wolko is Principal of Wolko Design Group, Inc., a creative consulting firm located in Elgin, Illinois and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Graphic Communications from University of Houston.

Grace Platon, PR/Marketing.   Ms. Platon provides her expertise in Public Relations and Communications to further the CPS mission. Ms Platon is the President of Communicate Grace, a strategic consulting firm located in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and holds a Bachelor of Science, Mass Communication – Broadcast Journalism from Emerson College.

Robin Burkett, Creative/Photography/Videography.  Ms. Burkett is an award-winning photographer specializing in pet photography.  The owner of Paw Prints Photography, Ms. Burkett brings her endless creative energy to capture the important work of CPS.  Her work has been featured on NBC Today Show, Bark Magazine, Elan, Cat Fancy, the Washington Post, and covers for NOVA Dog Magazine.

Jeff Symanski, Fabricator.  Mr. Symanski supports the CPS mission with hard-good fabrication services.  The owner of Commercial Tool and Die his role is mission-critical and includes the development of proprietary test equipment and specialty fixturing.

Heidi Bartruff, Award Winning Plush Designer.  Ms. Bartruff lends her extraordinary talents in toy and plush design to further the marketing and educational potential behind the CPS mission.  The owner of Heidi & Co, her creations include the development of our crash test dog personalities, plush prototypes, and other creative roles within the organization.  Ms. Bartruff’s creations have been featured on NBC Today Show.  Her first illustrated Children’s Book “The Wish” won the DOVE organization’s highest rating and won the Mom’s Choice Award in 2010.

Peter Nippard, Special Advisor; Education.  An accomplished educator, with other 20 years of experience as an educator in four countries on three continents, Mr. Nippard specializes in elementary education. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Education as well Master’s Degree in Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education from University of Virginia.  He joins the Center for Pet Safety team as a Special Advisor to assist with curriculum development for the CPS educational program PAWS UP for Safety.  Mr. Nippard’s credentials include teaching positions in both public and independent school including the prestigious Burgundy Farm Country Day School in Alexandria, Virginia and Muse School in Calabasas, California.

Geoffrey R. Bridges, Advisor; Education.  A volunteer with the Center for Pet Safety since our founding in 2011, Mr. Bridges holds a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from Northern Illinois University and is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s of Education with a focus on elementary education K-6.  Mr. Bridges will assist with curriculum development and creative implementation for the CPS educational program PAWS UP for Safety.

Western University of Health Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine.  The Center for Pet Safety welcomes WU CVM and Dr. Joseph J. Bertone, DVM, MS Diplomate, ACVIM to our team.   Dr. Bertone is a highly published veterinary practitioner and professor of Equine Studies at WU CVM.  Dr. Bertone and his team (along with WU students) will be engaged in future studies specific to product related risk on the health safety and wellbeing of companion animals.

CPS also engages professional consultants supporting engineering, survivability, and veterinary on an as-needed basis.

The Center for Pet Safety wishes to acknowledge our wonderful team of volunteers – your dedication to our mission is inspiring.  Thank you!