Month: October 2015

Pet Safety Shouldn’t Be Scary for Halloween (From Janet)

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

Many people don’t like Halloween, but for those who do, and celebrate it – let’s revisit some simple common sense tips to help ensure that animals are out of harm’s way.

  • There are nasty people every where. It’s unfortunate that we even feel the need to mention it. But just like predators who prey on children, there are those that prey on animals. Many predators don’t need a specific occasion to abuse an animal, but there are those that ramp up their nastiness on events just like Halloween. Be wary of strangers, never leave your pet alone with someone you do not know or trust, and if something looks wrong, it probably is, so keep alert in the event that you can help ANY animal in trouble.
  • It’s 10 PM, do you know where your pet is? ID tags and a safe collar are always good practice, but even more so during times when your pet is apt to get spooked, shy, scared, anxious, upset and/or excited. And, Halloween is definitely a time when your pet can be more prone to getting spooked, shy, scared, anxious, upset and/or excited.
  • Hide the candy. Check for candy that may have been dropped while handing it out, or that trick-or-treaters may lose in  your yard. Did you knowChocolate in all forms – especially dark or baking chocolate – can be dangerous, even lethal for dogs. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning may include vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and seizures. Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also be poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts of xylitol can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar and subsequent loss of coordination and seizures. Tin foil and cellophane wrappers are dangerous if ingested. If you do suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435. Candy is always better locked up where animals aren’t tempted and they can’t reach it.
  • Go easy on the pumpkins! Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are relatively nontoxic, but they can produce gastrointestinal upset or even intestinal blockage in pets who nibble on them.
  • Do you like to costume-up your pet for Halloween? If you are planning on dressing up your pet, don’t just show up on Halloween and drop your pet into his/her new garb.  Buy early, let your pet investigate it, and try it on a few times first. Costumes should be be restrictive or too warm. Some animals won’t potty if they are wearing something strange. Limit the amount of time your pet is in his/her costume, and make sure s/he can’t chew off any costume pieces. NEVER let your pet out of your sight if s/he is in a costume. And, certainly, if your pet definitely does not like the idea of wearing part or all of his/her costume, take it off! After all, pet costumes are for the HUMAN element of Halloween; no animal should be uncomfortable for ANY reason at the cost of entertaining a human.
  • What are YOU wearing? Make sure your pet knows who YOU are underneath all that glitter and make-up, and never tease ANY animal if you are wearing a costume. That’s just plain not nice. Speak up if you see someone scaring an animal in costume.
  • Are you taking your pet(s) to a Halloween event? Keep in mind how stressful that can be, even if s/he is with their owner. Although a lively event is fun for YOU, many times, especially times when others will be in costumes (and therefore not looking like a standard human being), these types of events can do a stressful and unpleasant number on your pet.
  • Are you having people over for a Halloween event, or is that doorbell going to ring all night? Better to keep your pet away from the in-house fun, and instead create a safe and quieter place where your pet hang (with access to water and toys of course) and that you can easily and routinely check up on him/her.
  • No candles or anything burning around your pet! End of story. Period. Just don’t.
  • Is your Halloween going to be glowing? Glow sticks are great to keep little ones in the light while trick-or-treating, but some are toxic. If you use them, lose them after Halloween is over, and keep them in a secure place.
  • How many Halloween lights do you need? Wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations should also be kept out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your dogs might suffer cuts or burns, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.
  • Don’t forget your smaller critters! Smaller pets should be given every consideration when necessary, so don’t forget them as you plan for holidays and special events.

Anyone can get caught up in the excitement of a party, event, or holiday. No harm in that. But when YOUR enjoyment or overindulgence leads to stress, neglect, or harm of ANY animal, then it’s time to rethink your actions and plans. Ultimately, it is YOUR responsibility to, well, BE responsible for your own pet, and to keep your eyes open if you see something happening to another animal that needs attention.

Remember, YOU are their voice and their protector!

This Halloween, have FUN, be SAFE, make your choices and options RESPONSIBLE ones, and certainly, if you have any other tips to make this coming Halloween weekend a better one for animals, send it our way and we will share it.

Happy Halloween!

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur









Animal Advocacy Founder signature Janet Bovitz Sandefur



Animal Advocacy logo Janet Bovitz Sandefur

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Thank you, Joe Maurici (From Janet)

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

He seems harmless enough.  You know the ones – we see them, hear them, and read about them every day.  The ones who seemingly go about their business, carving a life for themselves, innocuously under the radar, not much to think about.

But then – blam – a sudden comment or action, and you remember them, if just for that moment to say “WTF?!”.  Dude, WHAT was your REAL motivation for replying in that manner or doing that?

Every week, I am upsetting someone with a post, a tweet, a comment. It’s become more of the standard (sadly) to expect that when you commit to something worthy, stand up for what you believe in, and then JUST DO SOMETHING to make a difference, somewhere, someone isn’t going to like it.

Let’s take Joseph Maurici as a recent example. Along with many other Animal Petitions that we routinely share out, I posted one regarding the company Kikkoman, who has recently been found to be conducting rodent Animal Testing for their soy sauce products.  Most would agree that animal testing is horrific – these animals suffer unbearable insults and injuries, most are captured or bred in-house JUST for this purpose, and almost all of them die as a result of this testing, never ever leaving the confines of that tiny cage.  And to test on animals to make soy sauce taste better…such a tragedy.

But Joe Maurici doesn’t think so.  For some reason, out of all the posts that we share, this one hit something for Joe that caused him to respond as anyone uneducated about Animal Testing would:

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

Now, Joe seems harmless enough: routine job, standard profile picture (grinning, head tilt to the right, same pose for his work picture), doesn’t brag a lot on social media.  Wouldn’t hurt a fly, right? Hm.

And yet, smack in the middle of his semi-interesting political one-liner tweets, is his response to us.

You will notice that not one of Joe’s connections favorited or retweeted his reply.  Makes sense, since Animal Testing is abhorrent, and so many are working hard to heighten awareness and put an end to it.  Most people understand the impact Animal Testing has on its subjects, and know how cruel and unnecessary it is.

Joe’s one little tweet says A LOT.  In fact, it says more than any of his previous or post five, no make it ten, tweets put together.

If someone, like me, who does not know Joe, saw his tweet, it would be easy to sum him up as a simple little guy with no regard for all life.  So many “Joes” out there think THEIR life is what matters, and that’s it.

It’s more unfortunate if Joe has the power and ability to impact others, and he passes his opinion of smaller mammals onto others, others might listen.  Some might think Joe is the greatest thing since sliced bread, and that his opinion is THE opinion to follow.  Okay, probably not, but stranger things have happened.

Joe’s single comment puts his thinking back to a time when it was still acceptable to wear fur and beat dogs. We can only guess at what else quiet little Joe’s thoughts are that might be doing more harm than good.

Poor misguided Joe.

So what do you do when you come up against a Joe? Well, nothing. He becomes a moment that you remember WHY you are championing so hard to help those that cannot help themselves. There are MANY Joes out there, just waiting to jump on you with a comment or action against the very right thing you are doing.

So thanks Joe. Comments like yours help my skin remain thick every day. Because when it comes to Animal Advocacy, or any cause so painful that you have to JUST DO SOMETHING about it, you need a very thick skin.

P.S. – Hey Joe, we live in the same town. I invite you to talk with me in person. Then, you can say it to my face.  You can reach me through our Contact Page at  Come on.

Animal Advocacy Founder signature Janet Bovitz Sandefur

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Guest Blogger, Lori Calvery (Humane Society Silicon Valley)

From Hi-Tech to Non-Profit

For a number of years, I worked in the high tech industry in Silicon Valley, including ten years at Sun Microsystems. Good money, but something was missing – passion. It’s hard to get the warm fuzzies over software and hardware, but put me near a dog and I go all mushy.

During my employment at Sun Microsystems, I did a corporate volunteer day at Humane Society Silicon Valley’s old facility on Lafayette, but the place was seriously depressing. Animals in cages, all looking at you, begging with their eyes to take them home. Despite the fact that the animals were well cared for, it was not a place I wanted to visit again.

When they built this new facility nearby, I heard that it was like nothing I’d ever seen, so I was curious to see what it was like. Holy crap! This is not your grandma’s animal shelter! It’s called an Animal Community Center for good reasons. First, the place is beautiful. It’s bright, airy, full of positive energy. All of the animals are in condos, not cages, and they have relaxing music piped into their rooms. They all have nice beds, toys and blankets, which are all color coordinated by the Animal Care Technicians. Why? Because the staff care so much about the animals.

And the Humane Society of Silicon Valley is more than a shelter.

Summer camp and other education programs for kids, grooming, a spay/neuter and vaccine clinic and two dog parks are part of this center.

There are training programs for humans (although they call it puppy kindergarten), foster programs, and lots of volunteers snuggling with the animals in the building, walking them, playing with them. So what happened next, is that I signed up to be a volunteer. And that was the beginning of my path to find real passion in what I do.

After about a year of volunteering, I became an employee and eventually ended up in Marketing.

In high tech, I can’t hug the software, but I can hug our dogs, cats, and other critters.

But more than that, there is nothing quite like the feeling of seeing our animals go home to a good family, to a new life. Whenever one of our longer term guests go home, the staff cheers because they are so happy for that animal. Word spreads throughout the building, letting everyone know who just got adopted.

You can’t beat that.

Lori Calvery has been an animal lover for as long as she can remember, preferring stuffed animals to dolls. Her first dog, Snoopy, was a chihuahua poodle mix who looked more like Yoda than a dog. She spent many years in hi-tech before finding a path to animal welfare in the non-profit sector. During her career at Humane Society Silicon Valley, she successfully launched the Adopting Bad campaign for Eddie the Terrible, a rather challenging Chihuahua looking for a home. The campaign resulted in national attention and a Shorty Award.

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Lori lives with her husband and her three foster failures: Elmo, a Chihuahua, Peach, a Chiweenie, and Bronnie, a Dachshund. 

Animal Advocacy Guest Blogger Thank You Janet Bovitz Sandefur

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Guest Blogger, Chris Ksoll (Dog By Dog Documentary)

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

The Story Behind Dog By Dog; The Documentary

I am excited to be a guest blogger on Just Do Something!   The very title is something that has been a thread through my life but has really become the whole fabric over the past four years.

For over 20 years I have been in corporate America. I love my “day job.” It allows me the honor of helping entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. The people I take care of are nothing short of amazing. Being in a company, I also have a unique window in to how companies work and more importantly for this blog, how money trails flow, get set up and why.

When you are in corporate America, there are ways people interact with the not for profit world. You join a board, pledge money or volunteer.  For a long time, that is how my life was; I had a great job, served on boards and had 2 awesome dogs. One was a puppy mill dog, and he had a lot of issues, but I was committed to being his dog mom and working through anything that came up. Then everything changed.

One day my phone rang with an emergency call. I was asked to foster a mill breeder dog. I didn’t really know what fostering was and I was still not fully versed on puppy mills. The first time I set eyes on Kumiko, my life changed. I could not believe what I saw. She looked like a ghost. They told me she was in a cage for 9 years. Never let out. Bred every single heat cycle. No medicine. No human contact. Living on chicken wire. No love. She had worms, a tract infection, almost no teeth, no fur on her tail and bad fur everywhere else. Her eyes were squinty from pain. I made a promise to Kumiko that very first day I met her. I would Just Do Something. I would make change.

It took me a full year to figure out what I was going to do. While I was figuring out my strategy, I started connecting to rescue groups across the country on Facebook. I watched every program, film, and read every book. My friend Jordan taught me a lot. I started watching the whole chain. I needed to see who was in the industry as it was visible at that time. Patterns started to emerge. Then it came to me. This is a money trail. The money trail would map out all the vested interests.  After that, I had to figure out how to uncover this trail and how to get the information out once it was uncovered.

I also thought about how to reach people who are not necessarily concerned with animals and mills, but are moral people. Everyone knows what cruelty is. It felt like my brain was going to explode. How could I uncover the information, and make sure it could not be blocked. No agendas—that was really important. There could be no agendas; only the truth. Verifiable facts about a money trail. Then it finally hit me. I was going to make a documentary. That would be a no-agenda way to tell this horrible truth.

The next big decision was who to pick to make the film. My first criteria was that the person could not have anything to do with animals. This would ensure it could never be tagged as anyone’s marketing piece. Chris Grimes and 5414 Productions fit every criteria of my wish list. His award winning first film was about friendly fire in the military. Veterans are my second passion. That film had a tone that was factual, even-keeled but very moving. I never felt an agenda in the film. It told facts and I was able to come to my own conclusion. That is what I wanted. I will never forget the meeting with Chris, to ask him if he would consider making this film. His concern was that he was not an “animal guy” and I assured him that was exactly why he should do it. After he did some research, he came back and said the phrase: “Not only can I do this, I have to do this.”  Next to meeting Kumiko, this was one of the greatest moments in my life.

Thus began “The Journey For Change.”  We named the film Dog By Dog, because as Chris put it; “You are fostering and saving the mill girls and puppies dog by dog.”  

The choice of Chris Grimes was as important as the choice to make a documentary.  My partnership with Chris has been one of the greatest teamwork experiences of my life. Our skills are complementary and I do know a lot about animal welfare and I had done a lot of research. Getting to Bill Smith of Main Line Animal Rescue and Bob Baker of Missouri Animal Alliance, to tell them what we wanted to do, just had to be the first thing we did to begin the journey. They were the pioneers of change. I wanted them to essentially bless the approach, method and goal. They both are important people in the documentary.

Fast forward four years. We have the film Dog By Dog. We are going around the country, showing the film and giving either half or all of the ticket sales to a local rescue in the screening city. We hope to be on everyone’s television soon!  The remaining funds from screening ticket sales are going in an educational fund to make Puppy By Puppy. It will be for kids. Let’s teach them early and let them change the future.

Just Do Something; those words mean a lot to me.

Note from
Education and awareness help.  YOU can help by bringing Dog By Dog to YOUR city or town!  Reach out to Chris via their Contact Page to talk about how you can make this happen!

Animal Advocacy Guest Blogger Thank You Janet Bovitz Sandefur

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Birds versus Poles (From Janet)

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

For some people, this blog item may not seem like an issue, or even be worthy of a read. However, it’s the hard-core Animal Advocate in me that feels this is an important topic worth talking about, especially since I recently found out this EXACT situation happens a lot (A LOT).

This past week, we had a company telephone problem.

The telephone technician came out, and began his due diligence inside our office area. After trying a few things to no avail, he took his efforts outside of our building.

That’s when the trouble started.

After being gone for quite some time, he came back, excited to say he had “probably” resolved the issue – he found a bird’s nest, with two birds IN it, on a telephone pole. He said he shoo’d away both birds and tore the nest down.

And then he asked me to check the telephone lines again.
Yep – the problem was still there.
And yep – he had ruined a bird’s nest for nothing.

Thankfully breeding season is over, so there were no chicks in the nest.

I walked down the end of the street to see the nest myself.  Sadly, the nest was quite large, and had taken some time to build. With the colder weather coming, the birds’ concern now is to find reliable food sources to get them through the season – and now for this pair of birds, there would be an additional task of rebuilding their home also.

When I questioned his actions, his reply was a VERY sheepish, “Hey, I’m a telephone guy, and I do whatever is needed to keep the lines clear”.  When I asked him about tearing down nests in the breeding season, he just smiled and shrugged his shoulders.

To some, this may be a small thing.  But it really upset me.  So much so that I called the telephone company to talk about this.

Are there guidelines? Is there training? No. And no.

I was informed that our New York State has given telephone companies the right to “Nest Management” as the technician sees fit. Why? Because the priority of the telephone company ABOVE ALL ELSE is to keep the lines and poles clear of safety hazards and to ensure that the lines work as they need to. Anything that gets in the way of that is to be “taken care of”.

And THAT is the guideline AND training for that. Period.

The telephone company went on to inform me that they value life, and that their technicians’ values do not reflect those of the company, AND that they have no control over the values of their technicians, so many do remove nests without concern for what might be inside them. It’s a shame, I was told, but “there is nothing we can do about it.”

Really. There is “nothing they can do about it.”  Hm.

Bird on Telephone Pole

I don’t think I am done with this issue, because I think there IS something they can do about it.

Take a moment to call your local telephone company. I’d be interested to hear if that’s the same excuse you receive.

And then, I think there IS something we can do about it.

What do YOU think?

Animal Advocacy Founder signature Janet Bovitz Sandefur

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