Month: August 2015

I’M HOME! (From the new parents of #Eloise)

Janet’s note:  Not always are we – those that share and network the hundreds of animals in need who come our way via social media every day – able to follow a rescue story from beginning to end.  It’s such a wonderful story when we are able to do just that.  There were so many wonderful, caring people and organizations who helped network #Eloise earlier this year.

Hopefully, every person who took the time to help her in her freedom journey, remember her.

Since that very first day I came across her networking post, she has been in my heart.  And although the need to share for her stopped because we were able to get her out of that high-kill shelter, she has never been far from my thoughts.  Since that day, many months ago, I have kept in routine contact with New Leash on Life to get updates on how she has been doing.  And they, knowing how much she means to me, have kept in routine touch with me.

Eloise and her safe keepers at New Leash on Life have been waiting patiently for that special day when she would leave re-homing behind, and join her very own family.  I must say, I have been waiting, also.

This week, Eloise met her forever family.  Here is the wonderful end to her story, from her new family:

Finding Sophie 

Our story with Sophie started on a slightly sad note. After a couple months of declining health we lost our beloved 13 year old Black Lab, Bentley. The first week of grief was intense. And although we knew we eventually would want to adopt another rescue dog, but we didn’t know what the timeline would be like.

However, I pretty quickly started lurking local Los Angeles rescue sites. I didn’t know that a new dog could fit in our cat-filled lives but I eventually landed on New Leash On Life, a rescue located in the Santa Clarita Valley where we currently live. 

I want to be clear, I was just lurking. That is until I saw a dog named Pocahontas (or formerly, Eloise) and instantly fell in love with her. You could see from the three small photos on the rescue’s website that she had been over-bred and probably had a hard life until NLOL picked her up from the high kill shelter in which she found herself.  But you could also see that she also had a kind face and a wagging tail. She checked out for all of our must haves: good with dogs, good with cats, good with kids and most importantly, in need. 

I must have watched the little video of her 50 times, I showed my husband her profile and photos and he agreed that we should set up a time to go meet her. I filled out an application so we could meet her and got an immediate response from the rescue that we we’re an ideal match to meet her. I was over the moon. I spent the next 24 hours choosing a shirt to wear to impress the dog and the people at the rescue. True story. 

The next day we drove out to the absolutely stunning rescue to meet our girl. I was so excited. I’d read that she liked tennis balls so we stopped at a sporting goods store to pick some up just in case my outfit didn’t impress her. 

Our first meeting went really well, she was sweet and easy-going. She was thrilled we’d brought tennis balls and was happy to meet us. She spent the majority of our first visit laying on the floor with a tennis ball in her mouth. 

We were in love. 

We set up a meeting for her adoption a few days later. We spent the days leading up to the formal adoption primping and priming. I liken it to preparing a nursery for a baby. Sophie had a temperament test with some cats and passed with flying colors, so it was time to make good on our adoption. 

She eased into our home like she’d always been there. She was thrilled to have her own bed and toys and to trot around in our yard. 

She has been an absolute JOY to have in our home. She’s in love with our older cat, who has always identified as a dog. She’s got a basket of tennis balls to pick from, a cushy bed to sleep on, and more love than she knows what to do with. We feel so lucky to have her in our lives. She is such a testament to the true nature of Pitt Bulls. What we know of her life is so dark. We are so honored to be the light. 

Currently she is laying in her bed playing with a toy asparagus she likes to carry around to show people. What a pleasure it is to have her in our lives. 

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There are THOUSANDS of Sophie’s waiting for forever homes. Waiting for kindness, compassion, to be given a break. No effort is ever wasted when it comes to helping ANY animal in need. It takes little effort to share on social media, and a little more effort to make those calls, network, transport – SAVE OR BETTER A LIFE.  Whatever YOU do in  your life, please make it a point to consider expanding your corner of the universe to make life better for an animal in need.  So many are over-looked.

With that said, this is Erica (below). Her time at Downey Animal Shelter – the same shelter that Sophie came from – is very limited.  JUST DO SOMETHING.

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When is a cow JUST a cow? (From Janet)

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This past weekend a bunch of us were heading to Niagara Falls, taking the scenic route so we could take our time and enjoy any nature we were lucky enough to spot along the way.

The drive was pretty relaxing, until we drove by a field with two dairy cows in it.  The farm grounds were clean, all the dairy cows looked healthy, and the livestock had access to the barn and to the outside.

Until we drove past the barn.

In between the main barn and the residential house, was a small field, no shade, and two dairy cows.

None of us are cow experts, however it was apparent that both cows were having trouble trying to stand. And, it was h-o-t.

Not sure of the situation, or sure of what we were seeing, we decided to continue onto the Falls, but take the same way home so we could see if these two cows were still there.

Nine hours later, the cows were still there.  One was able to walk, but the one larger cow seemingly hadn’t moved from the place it had been laying when we first spotted her.

That was enough for me to want to inquire about this cow.

I get that not everyone is the same as me when it comes to championing for animals.  I will champion for ANY animal, and be loud about it and/or persistent if I have to. I don’t expect everyone to be like me in this area, however, I DO expect that those who know me understand that they can stand in the background, but *I* will not.  So, we pulled over so I could go up to the barn and speak to someone.

I was told that both cows were put in the field the day before, because they had fallen in the barn and injured themselves. A cow can fall a certain way where their legs go out from underneath them, splaying straight out from their side, tearing tendons and ligaments.  Sometimes the cow is able to recover, but it takes time, and often, it takes effort on the part of the cow owner because the cow needs help getting up and needs support in moving around. This often requires supportive bandages and hoists.

I was told that both cows were put in the field because they did not want them to be injured further by being stepped on by other cows, and they wanted to give them room to quietly rest and stretch out so the owner could see the extent of their injuries.

I remarked about the heat.  I stated that no injured animal should be left to spend hours in one place in the sunshine without shade.

The cow farmer was not concerned, citing that the cow would have cooler temperatures when the sun set.  That explanation was not good enough for me.  I took a picture of Downed Cow, noted the address, and marked down the mileage from that location to my house.

Unfamiliar with that county’s Animal Control Department, I decided to make some additional calls when I got back home.

In any county, Animal Control and/or Animal Cruelty have only so many hours in the day to follow-up on abuse and neglect calls.  Obviously, some situations take precedence over others, but ALL calls need to be addressed.  There are specific guidelines these governed entities are required to follow, based upon domestic and non-domestic animals.

Smaller counties do not always address all animal concerns.  As it was for this county, their local Animal Control only dealt with domestic dog issues – mainly license problems.  The bigger issues were handled, happily enough, by our county’s SPCA Animal Cruelty Division.

To me, sometimes it doesn’t matter WHO handles the call, as long as the issue gets addressed.  I was determined that the cow was going to be looked at the very next day, and that meant more than a few telephone calls to ensure it happened.

No-one initially seemed too concerned about one downed cow in the middle of a field, until I mentioned a confirmed injury and lack of ready-available water (lack of water is considered animal cruelty, however leaving livestock outside without shade is not always an issue – go figure).  Shade falls under the category of “sustenance”, and there is a fine line with that.  One Animal Cruelty Division may take that into consideration, another may not. I pressed on this issue also.

By late afternoon the next day, Downed Cow had been visited by a NYS Trooper Division where one of the State Troopers actually owned a working farm, and by a member of the SPCA Animal Cruelty Division.  It had been confirmed by both visitations that earlier that same day, upon examination, Downed Cow broke her hip in the fall.  As a result, the cow was euthanized.

I can’t help but wonder if Downed Cow was put in the field because they already knew she was not going to make it.  I have often heard about other situations where an injured cow is simply put aside until it can be taken care of (killed) at a later time. This would explain why no-one bothered to provide her shade or a comfortable, safe spot in the barn away from the other cows.

Regardless, Downed Cow is out of her misery – out of the heat, out of pain from a severe fall that caused a devastating injury.  I am including her picture because I wanted her to be noticed, and thought about. So many are not.

Wondering about the other cow that was also in the field? She was sent to slaughter. And sadly, so it goes.


Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

I was told that the farmer was upset because they lost a good $1,200.00 cow.  What was that cow to that farmer? Money.

What ARE cows to others? They are leather, horns, meat and milk. They are a means to earn a living. They are a way to make a living. They are money.

How sad that so many of us have stopped looking at cows just because they are big, beautiful animals who deserve to be exactly what they are.

So, question – when is a cow just a cow?

Answer – when WE allow them to be just that.

If YOU see a situation involving a farm animal that needs attention, make sure you have the address, nearest crossroads, county (if possible), name of farm (if possible), and any pictures you might be able to take.  If you are not getting anywhere with local authorities, first, contact a State Trooper.  They have jurisdiction many times that local 911 does not have.

Also, you can call the US Department of Ag and Markets at this number: 518-457-3502, prompt 0. Tell the receptionist that you want to report abuse of a farm animal.

Want more information on Factory Farming issues? Take a moment to go to Mercy For Animals.

Here’s to downed cows.

And remember, if you see something – please, JUST DO SOMETHING.  It matters.

Animal Advocacy Founder signature Janet Bovitz Sandefur



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Guest Blogger, April Lang (

Psychotherapy, of which I’m a practitioner, is about change: people changing their habits, their lifestyles, their ways of seeing and being in, the world. Helping human beings become enlightened so they can live happier and more fulfilling lives is very important to me. But I also care deeply about another type of enlightenment – opening people’s eyes, minds, and hearts to the cruelty experienced daily by the majority of the world’s animal beings. Illuminating for people how each day, many of their lifestyle choices end up hurting and exploiting animals, is a critical first step on the road to change. A great way to accomplish this I recently discovered, is through humane education.

There are many ways to help animals. Writing letters to newspapers and corporations, attending demonstrations, rescuing, leafleting, tabling, imploring policy makers to vote on animal-friendly legislation, becoming vegan, organizing fundraisers, are all important ways to help animals. And, like many others, I have engaged in all. But when I discovered the power of humane education, I knew I had found my ideal forum to fight for the world’s animals. Watching the hocked and horrified faces of the teenagers when they saw and heard for the first time evidence of the daily brutality inflicted on animals at factory farms and slaughterhouses, was powerful.

Whether we’re educating adults or children, it’s important to convey to the populous how pervasive, entrenched, and horrific animal exploitation is. While there can never be any guarantee that hearing the truth about animal cruelty will persuade someone to live more compassionately, it’s still vital that the information be disseminated. The truth, while often hard to hear is crucial, if transformation is to occur.

Each of us has particular proclivities and passions and when advocating for animals, it’s really helpful if we can tap into what those are, so we can be as effective as possible in the type of advocacy we choose. While I have only just begun my journey as a volunteer humane educator, I know it’s an area of activism that fits both my mindset and temperament and is one that I will continue to pursue.

Ultimately, the particular type of advocacy we choose to engage in is not what matters most.

What’s important is that we all keep working as diligently as possible to make our world a safe place for all the animals.

April Lang, LCSW, is a vegan psychotherapist and writer in private practice in New York City. Please visit her website at for further information.

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USDA APHIS and (From Janet)

“Don’t waste your time”, we were told.  But we ignored that. And we went.

This past weekend, I caught up with Mr. David Sacks, and formally met with Dr. Chester Gipson, Dr. Gerald Rushin, and Mr. Julian Prager of USDA APHIS.

I have been speaking to Dr. Gipson for the better part of two years.  My introduction to him started with a letter I had written to Tom Vilsack about “puppy mills”.  My letter was addressed by the office of Mr. Vilsack, directing me to reach out to Dr. Gipson with my questions and concerns.   So, I called him.  And, he called me back.  And we have been talking ever since.

As many people know, I started this website with the purpose of fighting the good fight against “puppy mills”.  However, the more I learned, the more I read, the more people and organizations that I spoke with,  it also became extremely clear to me that championing JUST against “puppy mills” was becoming difficult as there were many other animal welfare issues that I just could not turn my back on. Fighting for just one issue no longer was an option for me.

I have had the great pleasure of talking to many people and organizations from all over the world. The one universal piece of advice that I have received during more than one conversation is to stick to one cause because to spread yourself too thin was to burn yourself out faster.  But how does one do that when you see and hear about ALL the atrocities committed against animals? For me, the answer is you can’t.  I don’t mind spreading myself on the thin side. I’m a good multi-tasker, with a big mouth and a strong conviction. I can take being stretched, so I stretch and reach and strive and do a thousand other things that we as animal advocates do to make a difference where and when we can.

And, no matter what other advocacy issues come up, I have still remained focused on my original goal – championing against “puppy mills”.

With that said, I personally felt that I would need to include meeting with USDA APHIS as part of my journey in Animal Advocacy in the fight against “puppy mills”.  I have found that you CAN spread yourself thin when it matters, BECAUSE it matters.

So, what do you say to USDA APHIS when your request for a meeting has been approved? So MANY things to talk about, so little time to squeeze it all in.

After months of consideration, I narrowed down my main talking points, in no particular order, as follows:

  • Revising current AWA Regulations (Dr. Rushin)

My comments: Comments on Animal Welfare Regulations

  • Vehement public backlash on appointment of Mr. Prager to USDA APHIS as Canine Program Advisor (Dr. Gipson and Mr. Prager)

Questions for Mr. Prager: Questions to Julian Prager

  • Public reactions USDA APHIS actions and non-actions on hot topic animal welfare issues (Dr. Gipson)
  • USDA APHIS website revisions geared towards the public (Dr. Gipson, Dr. Rushin and Mr. Prager)

General Comments: USDA APHIS Comments

Can one meeting make a difference? I think so.  Meeting with USDA APHIS this past weekend did not change anything – or did it? One of the first things you need to evoke change is communication. I felt HEARD in this meeting. People need to “get” you before they can understand you and see where you are at. I talked about things not from a USDA or legal perspective, but rather from a constituent or layperson perspective. I didn’t yell or cry. I kept my emotions under control while still managing to convey passion in what I was sharing.

I felt that as good as it was for me to share my information with them, it was just as beneficial for them to hear it from me. No lawyers in the room, no egos or negotiating. Just one person, letting them know how important it is to do better by those that cannot speak for or defend themselves.

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This one tiny blog cannot convey how much went on in this initial meeting.  I did not come away from it thinking I had changed a lot, but I already know I have changed something.

I will be connecting again with Dr. Gipson, Dr. Rushin and Mr. Prager at the end of this month.  I am already planning my next meeting.

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Off Roading It (From Janet)

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

Have you ever zoomed by another vehicle that has stopped on the side of the road? Most times, people are in such a hurry that they don’t take the time to stop and wonder why someone is pulled over.  And, those that do take a moment to ponder that, never guess that perhaps it’s because they have either just hit an animal with their vehicle or have come upon an animal that someone else hit but didn’t stop.

Why it is that everyone has first aid kits in their homes and in their workplaces for PEOPLE, but rarely have first aid kits for animals? Why would someone take the time to learn first aid care for people, but not for animals?

It’s shameful the numbers of people that hit an animal, or come upon an injured animal at the hands of another driver, and NO-ONE stops.  No-one.

Why wouldn’t someone stop?

Sometimes this is because they think that the car “must have” killed it, so there is no sense in stopping.

Sometimes this because the animal has been knocked unconscious, so s/he looks dead already.

Sometimes this is because they think someone else will stop.

Sometimes this is because they fear punishment for injuring or killing an animal with their vehicle.

Sometimes this because they don’t know what to do for or with an injured animal.

Sometimes this is because they just can’t take it knowing they are responsible.

Sometimes this is because they are afraid.

Sometimes this is because they think “it’s just an animal”.

Sometimes this is because they simply don’t care.

These reasons are unacceptable. NO excuse is acceptable.

Animals are sentient beings.  Not sure what the definition of sentient is? Look it up.

Anyone who thinks it is perfectly acceptable or simply “okay” to turn their back on ANY living being in need has a screw loose. Which explains one reason why our world is such a mess; we have a lot of loose screws in it. A lot.

Coming to the aid of an animal in need shouldn’t be something that we have to think about. It should be something automatic in us; something deep – that inner voice that you hear whether things around you are quiet or not. That gut feeling that compels you to do the very right thing, no matter what. That thing you call a conscience. That trait we call Humanity. That character called Humane.

So, what should you do if you see a car stopped on the side of the road?
Simply put, pull over and see if things are all right.
For a human or an animal  – that is just the very right thing to do.

How can you help if an animal has been hit by a vehicle?
First, always help.
There are over a million results available on the Internet for tips and suggestions on animal first aid kits and how to help an injured animal. It is up to you to decide what you will keep in your car, and how best you can help. It doesn’t take much effort to educate oneself on the A B C’s of roadside assistance when it comes to animals injured by cars.

How much effort will YOU take to JUST DO SOMETHING?

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