Month: September 2015

When YOU Can Make It Better (From Janet)

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

This past week I have been pretty sick. Nothing fatal, but pretty sick. Some rest, healthy food, and a trip to the doctor which resulted in some antibiotics are doing the trick, despite the lingering symptoms that continue to make me feel miserable.

When YOU don’t feel well, the easiest way to find a way to start feeling better is to tell someone how you are feeling and then take care of your symptoms. Most of have the ability to do that.

When it comes to animals, it’s never that easy.  Pet owners know this firsthand – sometimes it takes more than one trip to the vet to find the reason that our four-legged or feathered family member isn’t doing well.  It’s so good to know that many pet owners will, and do, follow-up on pet illness and issues.

But what happens to the homeless, ownerless animal?

Little situations can turn into big, deadly one for strays and ferals, who are trying to survive as healthy animals – take a healthy stray, have him/her catch a cold, and left untreated, that can become a serious and deadly situation.

And what happens to those who have owners, but whose owners turn their back on on pet illness?

Sadly, many pet owners do not budget for and/or cannot afford expensive trips to the vet.  Many are not observant enough to know when their pet is “off”.  And many simply don’t care enough to check out a new behavior or symptom, thinking s/he will eventually just “shake it off”.

Due to the rising costs of animal health care, many shelters are no longer taking the time to even de-worm strays at intake.  And that’s just de-worming. How many sick or injured animals do you think come into a shelter that are left that way? Plenty. For many shelters, there are rooms to view adoptable animals, and rooms where the animals are kept from public view – many times this is due to the animal being injured or sick, and will be euthanized instead of helped.

And many times, that dog you see being led out of the vet’s office by the owner is taking their sick animal home as sick as s/he was when they came in, because they can’t afford the treatment to make him/her better. As a result, many pet owners end up euthanizing their pets earlier than necessary because it’s cheaper to do that instead of a regime of medication or rehabilitation.

There are many vet clinics who offer to help pet owners on a sliding scale, or even pro-bono – but you won’t find them in every city or town. And many programs that are available to help pet owners with vet fees come with requirements and guidelines before aide will be provided. Even pet health insurance can be an iffy thing based on how much you pay into it per month, versus who takes it and what services are covered.

For many pets – those who are NOT homeless – believe it or not, their life span depends on a dollar sign.

How can you help?  Here are a few simple things you can do to help save or better an animal’s LIFE:

  • First, if YOU know of an animal in need, always take steps to ensure that s/he is getting the care and attention needed.  That might mean something as simple as making a phone call and then making sure that it is followed through.  Bottom line, you may be the only one to help that animal, so NEVER turn your back.
  • Take a first aide class for animals.  The more you know, the faster you can help your pet, or someone else’s. Take a moment to google First Aide Class for Animals to find a class that works for you.
  • Be prepared for domestic and wildlife animal emergencies. This includes a Pet First Aide Kit.
  • Donate unused portions of your pet’s medication through your local vet.  Your vet knows who else could use it.
  • If you like to give money to charities, think about going to the local vet or pet hospital/clinic to see if you can help out a pet owner having trouble paying for treatment.
  • Visit your local shelter to see if you can financially contribute to a sick or injured animal’s care.  You might be able to even sponsor a sick or injured animal to prevent euthanizing him/her from their illness/injury.
  • KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN AND SPEAK UP. I recently spent some time around a lovely Black Lab who, when she turned over on her back, had a visible staff infection from her sternum to her abdomen. Her only outward symptom was that she kept licking her abdomen – so much so that I took notice. Being a very large dog, I was not aware of the staff infection until she turned over, but by the amount of concentrated licking she was doing, I felt something might be up.  I mentioned it to her owner, who initially stated to me she was aware of the licking and that it was “probably just fly bites”. I insisted that she look at her dog’s belly in front of me, and when she actually took the time to look at her dog’s skin, she gasped. She called her vet right then, and had her dog put on oral antibiotics the very next morning.  This lovely dog may not have been able to verbally say she was uncomfortable, but her behavior suggested otherwise.  Again, it may not always be the pet owner who realizes something is going on. Staff infections can turn into deadly infections in animals and humans. By the way, this gal has fully recovered and is back to her normal, non-licking self.

Do you have another idea of what you can do to help save or better an animal’s life?

Are you doing something, or have you done something, to help someone else out?

We’d love to hear about it.  We’ll add your ideas, and share your story.

Pet health may not be important to everyone, but hopefully it matters enough to you to JUST DO SOMETHING when you see a need.

It truly matters.

Animal Advocacy Founder signature Janet Bovitz Sandefur

Animal Advocacy logo Janet Bovitz Sandefur

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Guest Blogger, Melanie Johnson (Animal Activist Counselor)

When We Suffer, the Animals Suffer:  Taking time to care for ourselves

As animal activists, we do some of the most difficult work imaginable. We witness horrific animal abuse, either through videos, images, or first-hand experience. These victims cannot speak for themselves, so we have to be their voice. There is always work that can be done to fight for these victims. There are protests or rallies, organizations we can call to report animal cruelty, and there are always petitions that can be signed and shared. There is always something we can do, which leads many of us to overwork ourselves.

I remember watching Earthlings and I became so upset witnessing such immense suffering, as well as constantly frustrated and angry every time I saw someone consume animal products. Then I realized that this outlook and behavior wasn’t helping me or the animals. How do I become less angry and less frustrated? That’s when I started acknowledging my own needs. As animal activists, we are compassionate. When the animals suffer, we suffer. However, the reverse is also true: when we suffer, the animals suffer. We work best when we care for ourselves.

I volunteer as a helpline counselor to animal activists. Activists seek help with a variety of issues, from loneliness and conflicts with friends and family, to fatigue and exhaustion resulting from built up anger about the situation. It is difficult when we are aware of the existing cruelty but we feel that change is not occurring, at least not fast enough. We often feel lonely when others don’t understand, and overwhelmed when we feel like we are constantly working. These signs of burnout may actually lead many activists to discontinue their activism. However, with the extremely high number of animals suffering due to animal agriculture, animal testing, pet breeding, and incapacitation in zoos, circuses, and aquariums, they cannot afford to lose any of us advocating for their rights and freedoms.

Fortunately, throughout my own self-reflection and my experience as a helpline counselor, I have seen that confronting our own suffering and taking the time to care for ourselves can help significantly in confronting animal suffering. Through identifying the particular problem and our feelings surrounding the problem, we can strategize and create a plan of action for how to move forward. For example, if someone identifies the problem as exhaustion from tireless activism, a potential plan of action may be to take a step back, take time for themselves, and watch videos on sustainable activism and compassion fatigue. First and foremost, it is crucial that we confront our own suffering so we can be effective in confronting animal suffering.

Just know that you are not alone in your activism, and anything and everything you can do to help the animals is immensely helpful. Thank you for all that you do!

If you need support regarding any animal activism concern, please call or email IDA’s Animal Activist Helpline at 1 (800) 705-0425 or (Friday through Sunday).

– Melanie Johnson
Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

Melanie serves as an animal rights activist working to promote sustainable activism through her volunteer work with In Defense of Animals and King Street Cats. She further advocates for youth justice and human rights through her research examining juvenile justice issues and assessing victim rights and services.

Animal Advocacy Guest Blogger Thank You Janet Bovitz Sandefur


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Guest Blogger, Respect and Connect

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

You can make a grand donation to an animal rights organization, but if you’re still wearing fur, eating steaks and using leaping bunny free cosmetics, what’s the point? Living consciously is far more effective than sparing the occasional dollar. So if you think you can’t help because you’re not a millionaire, you’re wrong! Change isn’t always synonymous with $$$…

Hollywood stars are always in the limelight for donating millions to various causes and whilst it does help, it sends out this message that you can only really make an impact if you’ve got bags of money and that’s not the truth. You can make a difference for animals every single day – without even spending a dime. Signing petitions, contacting legislators, changing your diet and leafleting cost nothing! Yet they’re so effective.

I’ve spoken with many people, through my work as a writer, who dedicate their lives to creating a better world for animals. These people aren’t rich. But they have compassion and that’s what motivates them to help. This is, essentially, why I started my blog, Respect and Connect to shine a light on ordinary people doing extraordinary things for animals.

Whether you turned vegetarian or vegan, volunteered at a wildlife sanctuary, or saved a homeless animal, everybody who has helped or is helping animals is welcome to share their personal story on Respect and Connect. This blog brings together people taking compassionate actions for animals and inspires readers to do the same. Whatever you are doing to help animals, Respect and Connect wants to hear about it! So please get in contact with us here to share your story.

– Respect and Connect is about inspirational stories of ordinary people doing good things to help animals

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Animal Advocacy Guest Blogger Thank You Janet Bovitz Sandefur

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Holiday Forgetfulness (From Janet)

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

“Holiday forgetfulness” strikes too many people when it comes to animals.

Despite the many warnings and articles highlighted in social media when it comes to animal safety  and the “do’s & don’ts” of holidays events – there are still those who might feel they and their pets are above all that, and continue to do dumb things that put our four-legged friends (and birds) at risk.

Today in Upstate New York, is a great example.  With temperatures almost hitting 90 degrees these past few days (as I type this, it’s 86), people have been out and about for the majority of the day, many with Fido in tow.  I saw one woman stop to open her water bottle for HER to take a drink, but she had nothing to offer to her poor, panting dog.  And they were BOTH walking in full sunshine.  A short while later, I saw one dog owner had put her dog in a costume because “it’s cute”.  Not to mention that the costume was of sweater (SWEATER) material.

PS – Both were addressed, because I spoke up.  Dog A received water, and Dog B had the costume removed.

But what if I didn’t say anything?

My point is that many people are wonderful animal owners.  But sometimes, when it comes to a three-day weekend, or a special holiday, stupid finds them and sticks with them.  So caught up are they in their socializing and their excitement in having that special day or extra day off (which includes showing off their beloved pet), that their choices become poor ones when it comes to the animals they are responsible for.

I honestly feel that’s it not a difficult thing for an animal owner to put some thought and consideration into how they will be celebrating a holiday event while making sure their pet is taken into consideration.  It takes MORE time to deal with the results of a scared, sick or run-away pet.

With so many animals WITHOUT owners, how blessed are those that have a family.  But it’s up to that family to take care of them, and plan for them.

If YOU’RE hot, they’re hot.

If YOU’RE tired of walking in the heat, they’re tired of walking in the heat.

If YOU’RE getting bitten by bugs, they are getting bitten by bugs.

If the pavement is too hot for your YOUR bare feet, the pavement is too hot for their paws.


Common sense goes a long way, if you are not in the throws of Holiday Forgetfulness.

If you see someone where stupid has found them and stuck to them this Labor day holiday, please speak up.   An animal’s life may depend on that.

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

Animal Advocacy Founder signature Janet Bovitz Sandefur

Animal Advocacy logo Janet Bovitz Sandefur

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