Month: July 2015

The Politics of Animal Advocacy (From Janet)

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

This past week, met with our New York State Senator’s Office of the 55th Senate District. For obvious reasons, for meetings like this, it’s important to stay on topic and remain focused on the goals that one wants to highlight. But, like many topics, animal advocacy encompasses so much.  So when your meeting time and date comes, although you have your set agenda to discuss, your minds is whirling with everything else you want to share.

Our goals for this meeting were to discuss plans to heighten Animal Advocacy awareness in our county, and to formulate an agenda to introduce Animal Advocacy in our local school district. These types of meetings usually go two ways: 1 – Thank you for your time, however we can’t help you in your endeavor, or 2 – We want to hear more, let us bring this to the Senator for consideration.

Happily, we received reply 2.

We kept aware that there are only so many minutes in a meeting. So we were excited to be able to extend our meeting time to talk about additional aspects of Animal Advocacy; our journey to-date, and what we have been learning and experiencing along the way.

When we started this website, we had an idea of how we wanted to present it, and how we wanted to evolve.  We clearly stated that ours was to be an endeavor without any political agenda. We meant that, and we still stand by that.

However, it still amazes me how so many individuals and organizations make Animal Advocacy just that – political.  Many times, it seems like it matters LESS about the rescuing and advocating, and MORE about whose name is attached to a good work, whose title is higher, who works harder, who rescues better, who’s helping more, who does it better.


In the end, does it truly matter who did what during the rescue, during the saving, during making a difference in saving or bettering the life of an animal in need?  I would think that what matters IS the rescue, the saving, making a difference in saving or bettering the life of an animal in need.

Many people may not be aware that we do more than share Animal Petitions and information on social media!  I say this because in between that, and life, we are on e-mail, participating in telephone conferences, attending meetings, and helping others with advocacy issues.

This has led us into some interesting conversations about what some people think Animal Advocacy is about – (gasp) THEM.

Personally, I don’t care if my name or our website is associated with saving or bettering the life of an animal in need.  For me, Animal Advocacy is doing something to make a difference, together or alone.  There IS strength in numbers – but if the numbers are fighting against each other, if the numbers let egos reign over humble, if the numbers put recognition over just doing the work … well, there’s not much strength there.

It’s not about logos, or money, or popularity. It’s not about fame, or accolades, or recognition. Granted, BEING well-known helps to spread the word faster, but a person doesn’t need to be famous to JUST DO SOMETHING.

My point? Animal Advocacy is NOT about us. It’s about those that cannot speak for, or defend, themselves. Period. End of story.

And, at least for my county, I would like to see all the fantastic resources together in one room. Sharing ideas TOGETHER. Working TOGETHER towards the same goal.

We all may take a different road to get to the same destination. There’s nothing wrong with that. And, if we all end up at the same destination, then what harm is it if you wanted to take Route A, and I wanted to take Route B? When it comes to Animal Advocacy, we are ALL walking the same path.

Wouldn’t life be more harmonious and productive in the Animal Advocacy community if everyone felt like this? I think so.

This is how I ended our conversation at that meeting this past week.  And when I left, we were both nodding our heads in agreement.

Animal Advocacy Founder signature Janet Bovitz Sandefur



Animal Advocacy logo Janet Bovitz Sandefur

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Guest Blogger, Lynn Waddell (

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

Why bears? It’s a question I ask myself a lot. Not why do I advocate for them necessarily but why do human beings persecute them to the extent they do.

An animal revered in Native culture, the national animal of many countries, one we recognise on state seals, flags, city emblems, we write stories and songs about them and they are the toy animal we give to our children as cherished childhood companions. We seem to be very fond of bears and yet they are one of the most persecuted species in the world. And often in the most hideous ways.

Bear bile farming in Asia has to be one of the most barbaric and horrifically cruel abuses people inflict on bears. The bears, either caught in the wild or imported from equally dreadful breeding centres are mutilated daily to ‘milk’ their bile which is then used as an ingredient in Chinese traditional medicines. A process that causes acute pain and the onset of diseases, cancer, infection and injuries from self-mutilation. The awful truth is there are herbal and synthetic alternatives available.

Bears languish in unacceptable, inappropriate conditions around the world in zoos, private animal collections, unregulated roadside menageries. Noble apex predators in the wild become circus clowns performing cheap tricks for an audience either uninterested or unaware of the abuse and deprivation of a life in a circus. From bear-dancing, canned hunting and bear baiting, to barren zoo enclosures and pits overfilled with bears succumbing to zoochosis, the numerous ways we have devised to exploit and utilise bears for our own benefit has eroded their right to respect, to live free from cruelty, exploitation and confinement.

Bears are sentient, intelligent animals requiring large spaces and complex environments, they are not good candidates for captivity and yet there are thousands round the world enduring life in cage. The challenges in helping caged bears are difficult. But rescue and rehabilitation is possible. Many rescued animals spend their lives in specialised sanctuaries, places of respite and hope where they can become real bears again.

Why do we advocate for caged bears?  Because we cannot go on disregarding their suffering. Bears can’t tell us about their distress, they can’t complain about the intolerable conditions we force them to live in and they can’t ask for help. It is easy to turn a blind eye to the lifelong suffering of these tragic prisoners that we have reduced to objects we display, use, own and control. Seeing this cruelty is hard but looking away is a tragic mistake, because apathy and indifference casts them into the shadows. We choose not to turn away.

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Please join us and help free caged bears.

People Advocating for Caged Bears is a group of volunteers from Canada, Italy, Scotland, England, Albania and Germany, passionate about bears, concerned about their welfare, determined to raise awareness and take action for those languishing in bad conditions. We also support conservation organisations who work to preserve wild spaces for bears and other animals.

All nature is interconnected and when we try to ‘manage’ the natural world we are jeopardising natural processes and upsetting the natural balance, risking the disintegration of a healthy environment for ourselves.

This short film Why Bears? explains why we need wild bears:

– Lynn Waddell

Find us on Facebook and Twitter through our website at

Animal Advocacy Guest Blogger Thank You Janet Bovitz Sandefur
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Guest Blogger, Renee Jackson (Volunteer Shelter Photographer)

This is the story of an unlikely pair, an odd couple for sure.  Two frightened and confused residents of the foster house of Friends of Orangeburg County Animal Control find comfort, companionship, and understanding in each other.

This is a story that has a few twist and turns.  Let’s start with Cinder.  Cool name right?  It begins like this.  Animal Control was called to a local business that reported a stray with a cinder block on his head.  Yes, I said a cinder block stuck on his head.  We still do not know for certain how long he had to drag around the block on his head or how he came to get stuck this way, but he had to be freed from that frightening situation with the help of Animal Control personnel. He was then taken into the shelter looking desperate, beaten and defeated.  Physically you could see the scars of his life and struggles and emotionally he seemed to be broken and resigned to whatever fate befell him next.

Luckily for Cinder, the collective goodwill of several people all around the country helped write his next chapter. Funds were raised through the efforts of Friends of Orangeburg County Animal Control to help this guy, and he was sent to a foster in Tennessee.  One month later, the foster sent a message saying she could no longer keep him, and he would have to go into a shelter in Tennessee if he could not come back.  Transport was then arranged between three different individuals to get him back to Orangeburg County.  After another long journey, he arrived at the foster house with his lowered his head and trembling with uncertainty.  What was going to happen to him next?

Slowly over the next weeks, as Cinder spent more time with the volunteers and other dogs in the foster house he began to trust that the love of those around him was genuine.  He learned to walk happily on leash and soon became friendly with other dogs in the foster house.  Thanks to the sponsorship of a rescue in New York, he finished his heartworm treatment and gained more energy as well.   Then one day this small little scared dog came to live at the foster house.

Now let’s talk about Chico.  He was turned in by his human family because he was “biting her kids.”  A few different rescues came into the shelter with intentions of pulling this cute little guy.  But he would have no part of it.  What would become of this little guy?  Was he really mean or just scared to trust again?  Brandy Hudson decided she would not let fear stop her from making sure he made it out of the shelter for a second chance.  She agreed to take him into the foster house and work with him.  It took a number of weeks and a lot patience, and love.  He was eventually allowed to stay out of the kennel.  And Cinder, as you remember, is in the foster house too.  And the unlikely friendship began.

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These two dogs were down to their last hope when someone cared.  They were both misunderstood and abandoned, but now they have found each other.  And they have an amazing friendship.  When it’s time for their walk, they bark and whine and insist on walking together.  You simply do not take away one without the other.  They walk side by side with tails wagging in the happiest little swagger you ever have seen.  They play together joyously and when they are finally worn out, they sleep, cuddled together.  You can see the trust and you can see the bond they share through their experiences.  Their story and friendship is a heartwarming sight that reminds those fortunate enough to see it, that all hurt and lost faith can be healed with love and patience and time.

– Renee Jackson

I am the volunteer photographer for Orangeburg County Animal Control & Shelter.  The rescue group who took in these dogs is “Friends of Orangeburg County Animal Control & Shelter.”  Orangeburg County is a mostly rural county and up until a few years ago, very few dogs or cats made it out alive.  As of today, not one adoptable dog has been put to sleep since October.  This is huge and it is only possible with the work of the volunteers and the staff at the shelter.  There is still a long way to go, but we are getting there.

Animal Advocacy Guest Blogger Thank You Janet Bovitz Sandefur

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4th of July – Not So Happy for Pets


Did you know that the one day a year where domestic animals (think cats and dogs) are lost more than any other is the 4th of July?!

This ALSO means that shelters are extra-crowded the next day, and Animal Control’s phones are ringing off the hook.  And sadly, many animals die from getting lost (and becoming strays), and/or being hit by cars.

Many well meaning pet owners think it’s nice or ‘cool’ to bring the WHOLE family out together for fireworks and celebrating this holiday in large crowds.  Let’s face it, dogs hanging out with people is fun, a conversation starter, a very cool thing to do.  But actually, it can be a horrible and tragic experience for your four-legged family members.

It doesn’t take a lot of sense to figure out that the 4th of July is for HUMANS.  WE “get” the reason for the loud noises and huge crowds. WE understand that it’s “just noise” and that the parties are for OUR enjoyment.

However pets, although we humanize them to the point of feeling they understand our every thought, action and motive, do NOT “get” or understand anything about the 4th of July, which makes it a very scary and dangerous time for them.

There are many awesome blogs and reminders going around about ways to keep YOUR pet safe and comfortable during this celebration weekend.  Below are a few quick, common sense highlights that you can share and keep a look out for – because, yes, even if YOU are keeping YOUR furry friend safe and sound, MANY are NOT.  Remember : It’s always okay to speak up and JUST DO SOMETHING if you see an animal in need or in distress.  The 4th of July is no different – if YOU see something, take a moment to see how you can help that animal.

Short and sweet – how we can ALL help our pets (or someone else’s) during the 4th of July:


  • NEVER deliberately expose ANY animal to loud noises, bright lights, and/or huge crowds.
  • NEVER play with or light fireworks around an animal.
  • NEVER let your pet around strangers – especially if they have been partying.
  • NEVER leave your pet in a confined situation for prolonged periods without checking on them every half hour.
  • NEVER leave your pet in a car alone for ANY length of time.

The DO’S:

  • DO keep your pets inside and away from celebrations in a familiar place.  This means that even animals regularly kept outside should be brought in.
  • DO provide food, water, air circulation and background noise in that safe, familiar place.
  • DO keep pictures of your pet handy in case they accidentally run off (many animals run when frightened).
  • DO make sure that your pet has identifying tags on secure collars (not too tight).
  • DO make sure your pets are put out earlier in the evening, so they are safely inside before the bulk of celebrating begins.

PS – Two good articles on what to do if you lose your pet, from PetFinder and from Lost Pet FBI.

The 4th of July is for HUMANS, not animals.  If we keep that in mind, then having a safe, fun time for EVERYONE is easy to attain.  HUMANS = Yes.  Animals = No.  It’s that easy; it’s that simple.

If you have another quick tip, please let us know!  We’ll be happy to share it.

Here’s wishing EVERYONE a safe and a very Happy 4th of July!

Animal Advocacy Founder signature Janet Bovitz Sandefur




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