Month: September 2014

Another Reason Not to Smoke

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur


Ten years ago, Shirley Worthington rushed Tigger to the vet when the dog’s mouth started bleeding. When she was told he had cancer, she knew to blame her heavy smoking, an addiction she couldn’t kick until after her pet died.

Secondhand smoke can cause lung and nasal cancer in dogs, malignant lymphoma in cats and allergy and respiratory problems in both animals, according to studies done at Tufts University’s School of Veterinary Medicine in Massachusetts, Colorado State University and other schools.

The number of pets that die each year from tobacco exposure isn’t available, but vets know from lab tests and office visits that inhaling smoke causes allergic reactions, inflammation and nasal and pulmonary cancers in pets, said Dr. Kerri Marshall, the chief veterinary officer for Trupanion pet insurance.

Despite Worthington’s certainty about the cause of her dog’s death, more research needs to be done before veterinarians can definitively say whether a dog’s cancer was caused by secondhand smoke or something else, said Dr. Liz Rozanski, whose research at Tufts College focuses on respiratory function in small animals.

Worthington, 52, of Brooklyn, New York, said she was a teenager when she started smoking and she had always smoked around Tigger, who was 8 when he died in 2004. A year later, Worthington, her mom and sister all quit in honor of the bichon frise.

Then, in 2007, Worthington’s mom died while suffering from cancer.

“Cigarettes took my mother,” she said. “And they took my dog.”

Pets aren’t mentioned in this year’s surgeon general’s report, but in 2006, it said secondhand smoke puts animals at risk. The Legacy Foundation, our nation’s largest nonprofit public health charity, encouraged smokers to quit for the sake of their pets, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals urged making homes with pets smoke-free.

It’s even more important to safeguard cats, which are more susceptible to tobacco smoke than dogs.

Lymphoma is one of the leading causes of feline death. The Tufts research showed that repeated exposure to smoke doubled a cat’s chances of getting the cancer and living with a smoker for more than five years increased the risk fourfold. It can also cause a fatal mouth cancer.

Tobacco companies acknowledge the risks of smoking in people but haven’t taken the same stance with dogs and cats. Philip Morris USA says on its website that it believes cigarettes cause diseases and aggravates others in non-smokers and that the problems warrant warnings.

But “we haven’t taken a stand on the potential impact on pets,” said David Sylvia, a spokesman for Altria Group Inc., the parent company of Philip Morris.

Symptoms of cancer in animals include coughing, trouble eating or breathing, drooling, weight loss, vomiting, nasal discharge, bleeding and sneezing. Cancer kills more dogs and cats than any other disease, according to Denver-based Morris Animal Foundation, which has been funding pet cancer research since 1962.

In addition, the recent surge in the use of electronic cigarettes has raised questions about their impact on pets. The greatest danger is the trash, where dogs can find nicotine cartridges from e-cigarettes, said Rozanski, the Tufts veterinarian.

“You wouldn’t think dogs would eat such things, but they do,” she said.

Do YOU smoke?  We’d like to hear what steps you take to prevent your pet(s) from being around secondhand smoke. Your tips may inspire another smoker to do the same – and that’s helping to save a four-legged life!

Animal Advocacy logo Janet Bovitz Sandefur


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Guest Blogger, Eleanor Hunt (Founder of

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Wild animals captured and made to perform circus tricks.

Dogs against dogs and cockerels against cockerels; forced to fight to the death.

Horses and dogs raced until they are worn out; their monetary value gone.

All of this in the name of entertainment.

These examples are but a few of the countless exploitive practices that have all been classified by many as ‘entertainment’. Release is a non-profit foundation, which campaigns to raise awareness around the suffering of animals used in entertainment. Its goal is to educate the public about the horrors that animals suffer for the pleasure of humans and to encourage people to boycott any industries that use animals for entertainment. Our aim is to live in a world where animals no longer suffer at the hands of humans and where our pleasure comes secondary to their pain.

A polar bear has one million times less space in a zoo than it does in the wild.

Through the use of Twitter, Facebook, websites, leaflets, stickers and posters, Release is spreading the word. Rather than visiting the zoo, why not visit a local ecology centre? Or the Natural History museum? Or watch a wildlife documentary? These are all far more educational than watching no-longer-wild animals pacing and rocking behind walls of glass and bars. How about donating money to conservation? Or adopting an animal? Protecting animals in their natural habitat is, of course, far more beneficial to their species overall. Attend circuses with only human performers; bet on sports with only human participants; watch boxing or UCF; or go scuba diving to witness sea-life. There are many forms of enjoyable entertainment which do not require animal participants and there are plenty of peaceful and non-detrimental ways to interact with and learn about animals.

In marine parks, many orcas do not live past the age of ten, yet in the wild they can live for decades.

We believe that if the majority of people become aware of the abuse that goes on, they will no longer be willing to support and perpetuate it. Of course there are those who are fully aware of the abuse. Those who participate in and profit from the practices are unwilling to recognise the suffering, since they will then be out of pocket. However, we believe that the majority of people see past profit. Their compassion triumphs over greed. These are the people we need to stand up and speak out against these practices. These are the people we need to give their voice to the voiceless.

These are the people that have the power to Release the animals from their suffering.

Spread the word.

Eleanor Hunt is the Founder of
Tweet with them via @CampaignRelease
Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

Animal Advocacy Guest Blogger Thank You Janet Bovitz Sandefur



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Search and rescue dogs: the unknown heroes of 9/11

Search dogs help find victims at Ground Zero

In the immediate days that followed the attack in New York on September 11, 2001, more than 300 search and rescue dogs (SAR) scoured Ground Zero for survivors. They were the unknown heroes of 9/11. Many, if not all, have died by now, 13 years later.

Let’s honor them on the anniversary of the tragedy as a reminder that we should cherish man’s best friend. The dogs were an integral part of the rescue teams. Trained dogs are capable of digging into small areas inaccessible to  workers, and have an acute sense of smell to lead them to survivors. Not only they saved lives, they later served to find items such as jewelry that could be returned to victims’ families or be used in the investigation of the casualties.

Dogs search for corpses in the rubble of Ground Zero.

Genelle Guzman-McMillan was working in her office in the World Trade Center on September 11. After hearing a terrible noise, she raced down the stairs, but the building collapsed around her. Twenty-seven hours later, she would be the final living person rescued from the rubble at Ground Zero. She was not found by a human equipped with special gear. She was saved by a dog.

911 terrorist attack New York. Rescue dogs.

Still more canines served as therapy dogs, helping survivors cope with their emotional trauma. And not only in the aftermath of 9/11 but also after the Boston Marathon, they brought peace to the victims.

A golden retriever looks for victims at Ground Zero.

Another poignant story is that of Michael Hingson, a blind World Trade Center employee who was led safely out of the building by his canine companion, a yellow Labrador retriever named Roselle.

“I have the solemn obligation to inform you that my hero guide dog, Roselle, who was with me in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, passed away, Sunday, June 26, 2011 at 8:52 PM. I am sad, of course, because I will miss Roselle so very much, more than any of my other guide dogs. I write with joy because Roselle is in a better place, no longer feeling pain, while I get to have so many fond memories of her,” wrote Michael Hingson in his blog in honor of Roselle.

Dog searches for victims after the 9/11 attacks.

Most of the search and rescue dogs were Labradors or Golden Retrievers on 9/11. German shepherds are a popular SAR breed — they’re typically smart, obedient and agile, and their double-layered coat insulates against severe weather conditions. Hunting and herding dogs like Labrador and golden retrievers and border collies tend to be good at SAR work, too, because they have a very strong prey drive. In urban disasters like the one on 9/11, where people are trapped beneath precarious piles of debris, a dog’s strength, confidence and agility are key. Even more important, though, is obedience: An out-of-control dog is a liability in search situations. This is where SAR training is key.

At its most basic, the job of a SAR dog has two components: Find the origin of a human scent and let the handler know where it is. Experts estimate that a single SAR dog can accomplish the work of 20 to 30 human searchers. It’s not just about smell, either — dogs’ superior hearing and night vision also come into play. Time is always an issue in search and rescue. In an avalanche situation, for instance, approximately 90 percent of victims are alive 15 minutes after burial; 35 minutes after burial, only 30 percent of victims are alive.

Search and rescue dog helps firefighters search for victims at Ground Zero.

Experts estimate that a single SAR dog can accomplish the work of 20 to 30 human searchers. It’s not just about smell, either — dogs’ superior hearing and night vision also come into play. Time is always an issue in search and rescue. In an avalanche situation, for instance, approximately 90 percent of victims are alive 15 minutes after burial; 35 minutes after burial, only 30 percent of victims are alive.

911 terrorist attack New York. Rescue dogs.

Not all SAR dogs perform the same type of search. There are tracking (or trailing) dogs, and others are air-scent (or area-search) dogs. Air-scenters might specialize in a particular type of search, such as: cadaver, water, avalanche, urban disasters, wilderness or evidence/article.

SEE ALSO: Photo Series Captures The Quiet Dignity Of Search And Rescue Dogs That Served During 9/11

In major disasters like the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the collapse of the World Trade Center in 2001 and the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, air-scent dogs in all specialty areas assisted in the search for survivors. This actually led to problems for some of the dogs, because SAR dogs trained to find living people can become discouraged when they find only dead bodies. The dogs understand that live finds are preferable, partly due to their training, partly due to the reactions of their handler and partly because live people can usually give some form of feedback — and the dogs crave feedback. At Oklahoma City and Ground Zero, handlers and firefighters hid in the rubble to give the dogs a living person to find so they could feel successful and get their reward.

Meet The Dog Heros of 9/11 – video style

Speaking of these dogs: Love is not enough.

– Rosana Ubanell for  Rosana is a journalist and a writer. Since 2000, she has been the Assignment Editor of American Airlines’ Spanish-language magazine Nexos. In 2011 she released her first novel Volver a Morir, a Spanish-language detective novel based in the city of Miami.

 Animal Advocacy logo Janet Bovitz Sandefur
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19 Common Plants Harmful to Animals

Below are 19 of the most common indoor plants that could harm your animals. Many of these plants are given as gifts during the holidays, so please pay close attention to any that you might receive before exposing your animals to them. Also note that these photos depict only one variety of the plants listed and may not represent the entire species in terms of color, detail, etc.

If your dog or cat has nibbled on a plant and you have any questions or concerns, you need to contact your animal’s veterinarian or the Pet Poison Hotline at 1-800-213-6680.

1. Aloe Vera: Although it’s medicinal for humans, don’t let companion animals eat it. It can cause gastrointestinal upset, including diarrhea.

Aloe Vera

2. Amaryllis: This plant can be very enticing to dogs and cats, and it is frequently given as a gift during the holidays. It can cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, depression, and tremors.


3. Azalea, Rhododendron (Ericaceous): Also frequently given as a gift, these beautiful plants, if ingested, can cause cardiovascular collapse, which can be fatal. They contain acetylandromedol, which can lead to excessive salivation, weakness, depression, drooling, and vomiting. Comas, heart failure, and weakness can also result.

Pink Azalea

4. Calla Lilly: This is another favorite during Easter, but it’s very deadly. It can cause upset stomach, oral irritation, asphyxiation, tremors, seizures, loss of balance, and even death.

Calla Lily

5. Caladium: This beautiful foliage plant comes in a variety of colors. It can cause upset stomach, oral irritation, asphyxiation, tremors, seizures, loss of balance, and even death.

Caladium x hortulanum

6. Castor Bean (Ricinus communis): Keep this enticing 3-inch-high plant out of reach! If it’s ingested, animals can suffer from drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and excessive thirst. Severe poisoning can result in tremors, seizures, comas, and death.

Ricinus communis (castor oil plant)

7.  Chrysanthemum, commonly known as “Mums” (Compositae): The flowers of mums are toxic. If ingested, they can cause drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, and loss of coordination. Mums can also cause dermatitis.


8. Cyclamen (Cyclamine): If ingested, cyclamen can produce intense vomiting, which can be fatal. It can also cause skin irritation.

Cyclamen Hederifolium

9. English Ivy (Hedera helix): Ivy is very popular during the holidays. Many people use it to create indoor Christmas wreaths. If consumed, it can produce serious gastrointestinal problems, which can include vomiting, pain, diarrhea, and excessive salivation.

2008-06-24 Hedera helix 2

10. Kalanchoe (succulent flowering plants): If ingested, the toxins of these plants affect the heart and alter its rhythm and rate. They can also cause stomach irritability.

Kalanchoe arborescens 12

11. Lilies (Lilium), all types, including Easter lily (Lilium longiflorum), tiger lily (Lilium tigrinum), rubrum lily (Lilium speciosum), Japanese show lily (Lilium lancifolium), and some species of day lily (Hemerocallis species): All parts of lilies are toxic to cats. If eaten, they will cause kidney failure. The first signs of exposure are vomiting, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Many cat guardians do not see these signs as unusual and do not seek immediate attention. Kidney failure will occur within 24 to 72 hours after ingestion. Kidney failure symptoms include excessive thirst, increased urination, lethargy, vomiting, lack of appetite, and dehydration.

12. Mistletoe (Phoradendron species): If your animal consumes even one or two berries, it can be fatal. Be safe and keep this plant out of reach. Better yet, don’t bring it into your home at all. Artificial mistletoe is a beautiful substitute.


13. Peace Lily (aka “Mauna Loa Peace Lily”): If ingested by your animal companions, peace lilies can cause oral irritation, which includes drooling, difficulty swallowing, vomiting, burning, and irritation of the mouth, lips, and tongue.

Easter Lily

14. Philodendron: These plants are very popular because they are so easy to grow. Symptoms from ingestion include a swollen mouth, a painful tongue, and sore lips.


15. Poinsettias: These are the most popular plants to use for display during the Christmas season. They are available in pink, white, or red. Although most people think that they are the most toxic indoor plant, it would actually require ingestion of a large amount of one to produce clinical signs in your dog or cat. However, do not take any chances. Keep them out of reach. Symptoms could include vomiting, anorexia, and depression. Poinsettias also contain milky sap that can cause skin irritation.


16. Pothos (Araceae family): Pothos is a very popular indoor plant. If consumed, it can cause swelling of oral tissues, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach irritation.


17. Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta): Although all parts of the sago palm are toxic, the seeds contain the largest amount of poison. They can cause seizures, depression, vomiting, diarrhea, and liver failure.

Sago Palm

18. Schefflera, commonly known as “Umbrella Plant”: Schefflera can cause vomiting, kidney problems, tremors, and heart and respiratory problems. Scheffleras can also cause oral irritation, such as difficulty swallowing, drooling, and burning of the mouth, lips, and tongue.

Schefflera arboricola 'Hong_Kong'

19. Tulip/Jonquil/Narcissus Bulbs: Many people force paper white bulbs to bloom during the holidays by planting them indoors. They can cause serious stomach problems, hyperactivity, tremors, depression, irregular heartbeat, weakness, loss of appetite, and cardiac abnormalities.


Animal Advocacy logo Janet Bovitz Sandefur

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Guest Blogger, Oana Sava (Romania)

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Ms. Sava and I connected via Twitter.  Because she is such a busy lady, and because she wanted to Guest Blog on our website, she suggested that I copy the information from her website, in her own words, and share them, here.

Sava’s Safe Haven non-governmental, non-profit Animal Welfare association was founded by Oana Sava since 2012, to end the suffering of dozens of animals from streets of Romania.

Even before building this shelter, the founder of refuge endeavored to help strays animals. Oana Sava, has fought to help the starve and ill dogs from streets offering them food , medical care and a place in her house.  

On 05th November  2012 , thanks the friends and animal lovers from everywhere, we was able to to put basis of a refuge.   

A field full of weeds was purchased in order to build a shelter. In just one week after land acquisition, everything took shape, being able to save some of the strays giving them a warmer winter, one full of love.   

Daily there have been improvements and new things to offer to the dogs a wonderful life and comfort in the refuge.  Step by step, refuge Sava’s Safe Haven has grown to host about 200 dogs , some cats and many birds.    The refuge was built thanks the friends that helped, there was no help from authorities or other organisations. And the charity is still working thanks donations!

The dogs for that refuge are being well treated getting more confident with people and other animals.They learn to be friendly and to share, we have 2 playgrounds specially designed to invite the dogs to play and run in safe.

No matter how hard it is to take care of a large number of animals their joy is above all . 

Many of these animals find their own home making this refuge proud , because is nothing more beautiful than to see your rescued dog happy in his own home . 

A most proud thing is to see one of Sava’s rescued dog winning in competitions for agility and beauty.  

In this moment Sava’s Safe Haven has volunteers around the World that are proud to support this special charity. Thanks to them,  Sava’s Safe Haven grown and still is growing saving more and more animals from agony! 

Please take a moment to read more about Sava’s Safe Haven.  Sharing their endeavors can help.

Animal Advocacy Guest Blogger Thank You


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