Month: May 2016

Be MORE for Animals this Memorial Day (From Janet) Janet Bovitz Sandefur Animal Advocacy Animal Welfare

Warm weather is here, the pools are ready, and Memorial Day Weekend is upon us.  At least in Western New York, Memorial Day kicks off the start of warm weather celebrations and relaxation. By this time, in our area, the fear of frost is gone, and everything is suddenly greener over night.

Despite this long holiday weekend, we are on social media – signing and sharing, spreading awareness, replying to e-mails and endeavoring to make the world a better place, if even for a DAY, for animals in need.

Unfortunately, during holidays (and the nicer weather), many people become MIA when it comes to Animal Advocacy. Sunshine, yard work, pool parties and the like become the highlight, while the sometimes unpleasant “task” of championing for the voiceless takes a back burner.

There is nothing wrong in celebrating holidays and long weekends with friends and family, taking a break from the computer to enjoy warm weather and all the fun that comes with that. But imagine if EVERYONE took a break from advocating during the nice weather or holiday seasons? What then?

Animal suffering doesn’t stop on holidays. Or when the weather warms up (in fact, many animals suffer MORE in the warmer weather for obvious reasons like lack of shade, lack of water, and being left in hot cars). But sometimes, people want to “forget” that and rather, enjoy the summer months without “thinking” about “that kind of thing”.

How wonderful if, during the nicer weather and the warmer long holiday weekends, that we all still made the decision to JUST DO SOMETHING, every day, to better or save the lives of animals in need.

Yep, this means that you may have to actually carve out time from your nice day off work or long holiday weekend to plan for that. My laptop is never far from me when I travel out of town, because even on MY vacations, I always take the time to champion for animals. The great thing about being an Animal Advocate is that a dedicated person can advocate from ANY place, you just have to make the time.

This Memorial Day, have FUN. Enjoy the sunshine, those cold glasses of iced tea on the deck, and special times with friends and family. And, while you’re at it, take a moment or two to enjoy your blessings during your long holiday weekend and remember those who aren’t as blessed. Then take that thought, and do something with it, to positively impact a four-legged someone who is quietly waiting in misery for a better life to come along.

Because they are out there, every day – even on Memorial Day.

Animal Advocacy Founder signature Janet Bovitz Sandefur

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Guest Blogger, Penny Morgan ( Janet Bovitz Sandefur Animal Advocacy Animal Welfare


Maybe it didn’t strike me as soon as it should have, maybe I was a little slow, but soon it became impossible for any of us to ignore – the epidemic of poaching and trophy hunting devouring wildlife like raging berserkers. As astounding and dreadful as it is, it seems as though we or our children might never see a lion or a leopard or an elephant or a rhino again, except for those with the sad empty stares that come with captivity.

This would be an anthropogenic extinction with a vengeance, one motive, resulting in the horrors of poaching, being solely to feed the displaced narcissism of status conscious idiots by offering, say, rhino wine at a party in order to impress bosses with similarly limited intelligence. The horn as status symbol, and the rarer it gets, the higher the status value – until, of course, it disappears altogether. And then what? Who’s next up for the starring role?

The other motive, trophy hunting, is equally moronic – to earn bragging rights by shooting the biggest and the best and sticking the trophy on the den wall. ‘Mastering’ a lion or an elephant provides a type of ego satisfaction hunters might find hard to get elsewhere, but be in no doubt, whatever is claimed by these psychopaths (for they share so many features in common with serial killers), they have to go after the biggest and the best, for only these will suffice to demonstrate their superiority over the beasts of the wild. So it is that elephant tusks and mountain sheep horn curls have been found to be decreasing in size as a result of selective trophy hunting – artificial selection, if you wish.

These twin pressures between them, poaching and trophy hunting, are eliminating a heritage which we all should be able to share and wonder at, and hunters/poachers have no right to deprive us, or generations to come, that their shallow self-serving need is greater.

Since I’ve written before in the crime/thriller genre about animal welfare topics– I can’t think of a decent term for this sub-genre, except eco-thrillers (any improvement on this is welcome!) – such as the world of dog-fighting and the granting of personhood for great apes,  it seemed very natural to tackle trophy hunting and poaching. The intention of writing in thriller form about animal welfare/rights issues is to (hopefully) provoke concern among those who might not normally take much interest, to expand the support to prevent such horrors.

The more I researched this, the more evident it became that the whole business was at once straightforward and horribly convoluted. Straightforward because the motives are clear cut, the objectives unambiguous but complex because of the labyrinthine connections, spanning the world, and embracing no end of human trash more than happy to enrich themselves at the expense of our fauna.

The parallels with drugs or trafficking in humans or arms are quite stark in that all leave a wake of devastation, all involve bottom feeders at one end of the scale and kingpins, like drug barons, at the other. All ensnare the greediest of humans who allow nothing to get in their way of making money. Remember the late Roger Gower recently killed when his helicopter was brought down by gunfire from a poaching gang (3 elephant carcasses were found nearby). Many brave rangers are murdered by poachers.

One of the qualities demanded of successful trophy hunters or poachers, like those of drug dealers, is indifference to anything but their own selfish desires. At least one study found that sport hunters can be narcissists, impulsive, manipulative and somewhat psychopathic — that is, demonstrating a lack of empathy or remorse for the animals (don’t forget those posed pictures with the slaughtered victim proudly stuck up on Facebook) – and it is well-known that psychopaths who are serial killers all too often start with animals. The likes of Jeffrey Dahmer and David Berkowitz (the “Son of Sam”) started out torturing animals.

We need to be wary of these people, but they do furnish interesting material for a story. There’s fertile ground here for fashioning a tale built around the brave attempts to prevent poaching and pseudo-trophy hunting.

Before researching I hadn’t realised that there were so many museum thefts across Europe to steal rhino horn (see the recent case; ). Even safari parks have been targeted. Nor did I know that jihadi groups found poaching rhinos and elephants a lucrative source of funding; nor that the Triads are involved in many forms of poaching from abalone to ivory.

The effects on our fabulously diverse fauna are catastrophic, and make no mistake this is a war, and like all wars there are many fronts. So we, too, must fight on all fronts and this story is a small contribution since I’m not brave enough to face these cruel monsters in person.

– Penny Morgan

After graduating in Zoology from King’s College, London University, I went to Bristol University’s Psychology Dept. to complete a PhD in Animal Behaviour. Later, in Southampton University, I did Post-Doctoral Fellow research into both sleep and bird behaviour. Later (after my children were of a school age), I started the new Psychology Advanced Level course at Peter Symonds’ 6th Form College, now one of the largest in the UK. I have published scientific papers and contributed chapters to a book (‘Social Behaviour in Birds and Mammals’, Academic Press). During the course of researching various aspects of my first book, Prime Witness (about apes gaining ‘personhood’ rights), I became absorbed by the legal issues, so I enrolled in a LLB course (London University) and obtained an LLB in 2003. I have since written two more books – Blood Wood (about illegal logging) and Devil’s Dogs (dog fighting) – and am in the process of completing a fourth (Trophy, about poaching rhino horns). I have contributed articles to the Journal of Animal Law Welfare (the journal of the Association of Lawyers for Animal Welfare), and Protect (the magazine of the League Against Cruel Sports. I’m currently Vice President of the League Against Cruel Sports.

Connect with Penny on Twitter!

Animal Advocacy Guest Blogger Thank You Janet Bovitz Sandefur


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Animal Petitions – How to Make Them Matter More (From Janet) Janet Bovitz Sandefur Animal Advocacy Animal Welfare


You may be aware that is working with local and state legislature on “puppy mill” reform.  

During a meeting with one of our NYS State Legislators for this, the topic of Animal Petitions came up; and the way that a legislator’s office receives and processes United States petition signatures on Animal Welfare issues.

After our discussion, we called a number of US Senator and Governor offices, and asked for their comments as well.  Many of them were the same:

Many petition creators and signers are not aware that many United States Animal Petitions*, even with meeting their goal of the desired number of signatures, are not acted upon.  A few of the main reasons for this:

  1. Who is signing:  When directing Animal Petitions to legislative offices, many of the petitions are signed by individuals that are NOT constituents of that state’s legislators.  The majority of state and county legislators only act upon the requests of THEIR constituents, and that is then based on the number of signatures/calls/letters received on a specific issue.
  2. Where the issue is located: The majority of state and county legislators normally do not have jurisdiction to impact issues going on in other states, or even in other counties in the same state.
  3. How petition signatures and petition information is received: When individuals sign on-line petitions, the signatures come into a legislator’s office ONE AT A TIME.  The legislator is NOT the first person who reviews these petition signatures.  There is usually an appointed person who maintains and monitors this.  

With that said, if the petition information is NOT clear, and/or if the issue is something that the legislator cannot act upon because it is either out of jurisdiction or there are not enough constituent signatures, the petition is usually NOT acted upon and many times does not reach the individual it was directed to.  

Processing petitions on the end of the receiver is time consuming and there are costs associated with that.  Obviously, more time will be spent on petition signatures that have all the ready and clear information up front, rather than spending time on those that do not.

  • What can make petition information unclear?
    Lack of identifying, and/or vague, and/or false vague information.  Petitions should always be created to include the following mandatory information:
      1. Name, Address (with State, City/Town, Zip and County) and valid e-mail address of the petition creator.   A Valid e-mail is necessary so that the receiving entity can respond back to the creator, and confirm or address petition information if necessary.
      2. Specific petition goal description, or if the goal is to amend an existing entity, then the existing entity should be listed by the Full Name and/or Bill number.
      3. Name, Address (with State, City/Town, Zip and County), and valid e-mail address of petition signer.  A Valid e-mail is necessary so that the receiving entity (ESPECIALLY if it’s a legislative office) can respond back to the petition signer with an acknowledgement of signature receipt.  I have been told that many petition signers do NOT provide a valid e-mail address.
      4. The State, City/Town, Zip and County (and name/address if you can obtain it) of where the issue is.  Believe it or not, many petition creators neglect to mention this crucial information.  This plays into who should be signing.
      5. Supporting information of the specific issue. Try to include these key items: names, dates, pictures, supporting documentation, links to related information and a timeline. The content of information in your petition should be clear, direct, and factual.
      6. Are there other related Animal Petitions on the same issue? Include those links in  your content also. It’s okay to have more than one petition circulating on that same issue.
  • Who really should be signing?
    Limiting or restricting the related petition (WITH A NOTIFICATION of who should sign) to only those constituents who have the power to influence their related legislation works the best.  Examples:
        1. If a petition creator is trying to abolish ‘puppy mills’ in the State of California, then only residents of California should sign the petition.
          • This petition should then be directed to the Governor of California, and the related legislators for that State.
        2. If a petition creator is trying to abolish ‘puppy mills’ in the town of Sacramento, California, then only residents of California should sign the petition with a specific request ask those residents of Sacramento, CA to sign the petition.
          • This petition should then be directed to the Governor of California, and the related legislators for that town.

Many people do not know who their legislators are, so many will be unsure of whether their signature will help or hinder a petition.  There are many available methods through the Internet (including zip code searches, which is very easy), to help an individual determine whether or not they should sign a petition.

IMPORTANT:  This is NOT to say that you should only ask local residents to sign a petition. But rather, highlight the importance of key constituent signing, and then asking all to sign and share, regardless of their location.

  • How should the results come to the petition receiver (example: legislative office)?
    During our most recent meeting with our State Legislator’s office, I was shown real-time examples of how different on-line petition signatures are received via e-mail.  Many times, the signature e-mail page received has less than ⅓ of the necessary identifying information that is needed in order to take any action.  And, remember, these signatures come in as INDIVIDUAL e-mails.  
        1. What is needed for the petition receiver?
          • Complete (ALL) information as stated above.
          • Properly obtained signatures as outlined above.
  • Petitions should be regularly updated on the Petitioner’s end.
    On many petitions that are signed, the signers and sharers never hear back on the status.  It can be a simple as “We haven’t heard back on our petition submission yet”.
    Along with this, the targets that are provided the related petition is not followed up with, so once the petition is submitted, petitioners need to be diligent on reaching out to the target to find out updates on action.  NEVER LET A PETITION DROP. If people care enough to sign and share your petition, then see it through to the end with whatever action(s) you have stated you will do.
  • Want to make an additional impact?
    It was suggested that petition creators should include a way for petition signers to make an additional, more personal impact, by also always asking that in addition to electronically signing, that they also send a personal message to whomever the petition is directed to via e-mail or mailing address (both of which should be provided).  
      • Why?  Because it hits home the importance of an issue on a personal level, one that will most likely be better remembered than a form letter from a petition. 

        Personal messages should include:

        1. Issue, clearly stated.
        2. Petition signer’s Name, Address (with State, City/Town, Zip  and County), Telephone Number, E-Mail.
        3. Reason why this is important to petition signer.
        4. Acknowledgement that they also signed electronic petition.

*This is NOT to say that globally signed Animal Petitions do not make an impact – because they certainly do.  So we are not saying don’t sign them.  YOU SHOULD.  Circulated Animal Petitions evoke Social Media action. Many times, petitions are acted upon solely from the “uproar” and awareness that is caused on Social Media rather than the petition itself.  That’s why is DOES matter whether or not you sign, and share, petitions – regardless of whether they are regarding an issue in your district or not.

*These guidelines are posted to be helpful, additional information so that Animal Petitions are created with the most impact in mind.

There are those that have the opinion that Animal Petitions don’t make a difference.
So keep signing, keep sharing, and go that extra mile to JUST DO SOMETHING in the Animal Petition world.

Go here to find a list of sites where you can sign and share Animal Petitions.

  • Want us to share an Animal Petition? Give us the related link, and we will do just that.
  • Want to tell us about the Animal Petition YOU created and are passion about? Tell us in the form of a Guest Blog, and we’ll post it and share it all over the place.

YOU can make a difference, we ALL can.
Creating, signing and sharing Animal Petitions is one way we ALL can help change the lives of animals in need.  So get out there and help make a difference – right now!

Animal Advocacy Founder signature Janet Bovitz Sandefur


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Happy Mother’s Day! (From Janet) Janet Bovitz Sandefur Animal Advocacy Animal Welfare

ALL sentient beings deserve kindness and compassion.  ALL. OF. THEM.

Today, and always, keep in mind ALL of the four-legged Moms that, because of humans, because of us:

  • Are forced to breed
  • Are kept in captivity
  • Are not given the opportunity to have their young by their side
  • Have lost their life before their young are grown
  • Have lost their freedom
  • Do not receive consideration or compassion
  • Are not provided basic care
  • Are forgotten
  • Are left outside
  • Are abandoned
  • Are starving
  • Are sick
  • Are doing their best to take care of their young, with so many roadblocks
  • Are dying, somewhere

Do what you can, when you can – it matters.

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

Before I was a Mom –
I slept as late as I wanted and never worried about how late I got into bed. I brushed my hair and my teeth every day.

Before I was a Mom 
I cleaned my house each day. I never tripped over toys or forgot words to a lullaby. I didn’t worry whether or not my plants were poisonous. I never thought about immunizations.

Before I was a Mom –
I had never been puked on – Pooped on – Spit on – Chewed on, or Peed on. I had complete control of my mind and My thoughts. I slept all night.

Before I was a Mom –
I never held down a screaming child so that doctors could do tests…or give shots. I never looked into teary eyes and cried. I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin. I never sat up late hours at night watching a baby sleep.

Before I was a Mom –
I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn’t want to put it down. I never felt my heart break into a million pieces when I couldn’t stop the hurt. I never knew that something so small could affect my life
so much. I never knew that I could love someone so much. I never knew I would love being a Mom.

Before I was a Mom –
I didn’t know the feeling of having my heart outside my body. I didn’t know how special it could feel to feed a hungry baby. I didn’t know that bond between a mother and her child. I didn’t know that something so small could make me feel so important.

Before I was a Mom –
I had never gotten up in the middle of the night every 10 minutes to make sure all was okay. I had never known the warmth, The joy, The love, The heartache, The wonderment or the satisfaction of being a Mom. I didn’t know I was capable of feeling so much before I was a Mom.

– author unknown

Look around you. Motherhood is everywhere.  Mom’s are amazing. Every Mom, no matter WHAT living, breathing Mom she is, deserves motherhood from start to finish.

Let’s start celebrating ALL Mom’s.

Happy Mother’s Day to those incredible women who went from before they were a Mom, to well, being a Mom.
We wouldn’t be here without you. xo

Animal Advocacy Founder signature Janet Bovitz Sandefur


Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

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Tourism – It’s not for Animals at all (

Animal Cruelty:
Think Twice Before Visiting A Wildlife Attraction

world animal protection

A quick glance at photos uploaded to Facebook and Instagram will prove that animal attractions are big business in the travel sector. Moreover, Australia’s close proximity to Asia means that we are one of the most frequent travelers to the continent and sadly, Asia (along with Africa), is one of the worst areas for cruelty towards animals in the tourism trade.

“Using the WildCRU research ratings and our own research more than 24 different animal attractions were reviewed via investigations across Asia and Africa. Following this World Animal Protection has compiled a list of ten of the world’s cruelest, common wildlife attractions,” Nicole Beynon, its Head of Campaigns, Australia, told The Huffington Post Australia.

They are:

  • Riding elephants
  • Taking tiger selfies
  • Walking with lions
  • Visiting bear parks
  • Holding sea turtles
  • Performing dolphins
  • Dancing monkeys
  • Touring civet cat coffee plantations
  • Charming snakes and kissing cobras
  • Farming crocodiles

Part of the reason that these businesses prosper is that travelers are fooled into thinking these animals are domesticated and well looked after, which is often far from the truth.

“Travelers are told that these are domesticated animals and that they are bred to be tourist friendly. It actually takes hundreds of generations for animals to become domesticated. It also takes intensive training for animals to be ‘tourist friendly’,” Beynon said.

“People are also told that elephants in the tourism industry were saved from the logging industry. This was once true but elephants are now bred for the tourism industry to keep up demand.”

Tourist operators also tell customers that keeping animals in captivity ensures their conservation in the wild.

world animal protection

World Animal Protection, formerly known as World Society for Protection of Animals, is currently campaigning for TripAdvisor to stop selling tickets to wildlife tourist attractions. At present, people are able to purchase ticket to ride elephants, handles seas turtles and take photos with tigers on the travel site.

TripAdvisor states that the listings on its website do not represent any form of endorsement, instead providing a platform for travelers to share their opinions. Yet, contrary to its claim of impartiality, TripAdvisor ranks and rewards venues through their Popularity Index and Certificate of Excellence program, reinforcing their popularity with potential travelers.

“Eight out of 10 tourists leave positive reviews for cruel wildlife attractions on TripAdvisor because they don’t see the abuse. We know people want to see wild animals, but they need to be aware of the suffering that goes on behind the scenes so they can make animal friendly choices,” Beynon said.

In response to World Animal Protection’s campaign, TripAdvisor released the following:

“The fact that a property, establishment or business may be listed on TripAdvisor does not represent our endorsement of that establishment. We provide the listings as a platform for travelers to share with others their genuine experiences there — positive or negative. We believe it is important to ensure all attractions a traveler could visit are listed on the site so that they can share their personal experiences.

“This goes to the heart of our mission as a platform — which is to shine a light on traveler sentiment about businesses around the world. Excluding businesses that have received overwhelming positive reviews from the travel community from either our rankings or awards, which are based on the quality and quantity of travelers reviews, would be contrary to that mission.

“We believe the best catalyst for change comes from the travel community itself. To that end, if visitors to a wildlife attraction have a concern about the welfare practices they have seen, we absolutely encourage them to leave that feedback in a review on TripAdvisor as a way to help other travelers make more informed decisions,” a TripAdvisor spokesperson said in the statement.

Beynon emphasizes that it’s not that people don’t care about animals, but they simply they don’t see the hidden suffering.

“A good rule of thumb is if you can hug it, ride, it or take a selfie with it, there is a strong chance the animal has been intensively trained and suffered cruelty, and the experience should be avoided.”

Another handy tool to evaluate a wildlife attraction is by using the ‘five freedoms’:

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst: by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigor.
  • Freedom from discomfort: by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
  • Freedom from pain, injury or disease: by prevention through rapid diagnosis and treatment.
  • Freedom from fear and distress: by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.
  • Freedom to express normal behavior: by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.

world animal protection

There are still ways to enjoy nature and wildlife when you travel.

Are there any ways that travelers can ethically either see or help animals, should they desire a nature aspect to their holiday?

“See animals in the wild and ensure you are far enough away from the animals not to cause stress. Take part in responsible eco tours where nature and wildlife is in their natural habitat and are not disturbed. Visit a genuine wildlife reserve or sanctuary that rescues and rehabilitates animals and has the animal’s best interests at heart. Make sure there isn’t direct contact between visitors and animals, and animals are not bred in captivity for ongoing profit,” Beynon said.

Most importantly, speak up if you see something.

“Complain when something does not feel right! If you see animal cruelty, please report this to the (local) authorities, for example your tour operator, or a local animal welfare organisation.”

Reported by Huffington Post Australia

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