Month: July 2016

Who’s Your Buddy? (From Janet) Janet Bovitz Sandefur Animal Advocacy Animal Welfare

So many caring people are working hard every day to make a difference in the lives of animals.

And anyone involved in Animal Advocacy knows that it can be both wonderful and painful at the same time.

The wonderful part can be wonderful. And the painful part – sometimes it’s too painful to bear. We relive the pain in our thoughts, we dream about it at night, we are consumed by it in between everything else going on – we feel it.

Compassion fatigue is real, and can take an impacting toll.

And although not regularly talked about, depression and the suicide rate in the Animal Welfare community is prevalent, and higher than one would think.

There is no shame in needing to take a breath now and then, to take a step back, to regroup and energize. In fact, if we can deal with the guilt of doing that, it’s recommended.

So, what do you do if you feel guilty for needing to take a breath? What do you do when you need to be away from Animal Advocacy to deal with other agenda, or to take care of yourself? What do you do when you just need to talk to someone who gets where you’re at?

Here’s a helpful tip: Get an Advocate Buddy.  Believe it or not, sometimes the best buddy is someone not even close to you. This may be someone whose related posts you admire on social media or someone in your local town with similar interests (through a rescue or shelter group, a group or vet practice).

An Advocate Buddy can be many things: It’s nice to know that while you are catching your breath, your Advocate Buddy is doing what you would do – maybe that means sharing information, helping on a cause, signing and sharing Animal Petitions, and working to make a difference. An Advocate Buddy is also a great resource to talk to, when you need to talk about what you are seeing, feeling and/or doing.

It takes a lot of guts to be an Animal Advocate.

And it takes a lot of guts to be an Advocate Buddy – because sometimes we have lots to talk about that isn’t happy or pleasant, and a lot of that can sometimes be hard to listen to. But the right person will. Every time.

So, don’t be shy about reaching out to someone. Chances are, they could use an Advocate Buddy also.

PS: If you are struggling with how you are feeling, and you see no end in sight, you are not alone.  Mondays – Wednesdays you can make a toll-free call to the In Defense of Animal’s Animal Activist Helpline for guidance. If you feel you cannot wait for the beginning of the week to come to make that call, please tell someone how you are feeling RIGHT NOW, or call your doctor or 911. It matters, and we care.

Animal Advocacy Founder signature Janet Bovitz Sandefur



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Water Can Hurt And Kill (From Janet) janet bovitz sandefur Animal Advocacy Animal Welfare

If you have a dog, at some point, you have played at the pond, the beach, the river, the ocean, the stream, the lake, the dog park or the backyard pool.  The joy that many dogs get from romping in water is fun to watch, and even more fun if you decide to, literally, jump in also!

It’s halfway through Summer, and already Western New York has seen temperatures in the 90’s more than once in one week, and many counties in Western New York are on a drought watch. Super hot temperatures and lack of water negatively impact everything from to lawns to crops.  Obviously humans and domestic animals alike are also feeling the heat.  Wildlife can succumb to the effects of heat and drought if a water source isn’t available.

It makes sense that during these super hot, very dry weeks, that you’d want to take your four-legged family member out for some cool, refreshing water play – and you should!

The majority of dog owners are familiar with their pooch; they are aware of allergies, fears, what soothes, and key behaviors that tell them when their dog is feeling well versus not.

What many dog owners may not know is that playing in the water for an extended amount of time and/or even playing with water from a hose or sprinkler for long periods, has the potential to make a dog very ill, to the point of being fatal.

There are many good articles on the internet on Water Toxicity, otherwise known as Hyponatremia or Water Intoxication.  We liked this article, provided by Healthy Pets-Mercola.

If you have a dog, or know someone who does, take a moment to read up on this – because it’s important.

At some point, you may prevent or save your dog (or someone else’s four-legged family member) from this condition.

Don’t NOT take your dog for a swim!  Water play is refreshing, invigorating, great exercise, and so much fun!  Just keep in mind, like anything else, a healthy balance and a watchful eye is instrumental when it comes to being a responsible pet owner and a caring observer of others’ pets.

So, jump in, have fun, and play safe this summer!

Do you have any other water safety tips for pets? Share it with us, so we can share it with everyone else!

Animal Advocacy Founder signature Janet Bovitz Sandefur

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A Little Water Goes A Long Way (From Janet)

You know the feeling. You’re hot, sweaty, itchy and dirty from an afternoon of gardening in the hot sun. You have dirt underneath your fingernails, on the insides of your socks, and sweat running between your shoulder blades.  Or maybe you’ve spent an afternoon at the park, having a picnic on a blanket or sitting under a pavilion. The sun is out, but it’s muggy and humid. You fend off mosquitoes and flies, and the ice in your drink has melted a dozen times no matter how much you refill it from that styrofoam bucket.

Think of YOUR summer scenario. Everyone has them. Good times mixed with the effects of summer heat.

When you are hot, or itchy, or sweaty, you have the option – the luxury – of going inside to cool off, jumping into the swimming pool to alleviate the discomfort, or taking a quick shower to cool off and get refreshed.

Think about all the wonderful ways you can cool down.

Now think about the thousands – THOUSANDS – of  domestic animals that are kept outside 24/7 in ALL weather types, with no hope of warm weather alleviation in site.

If YOU know of an animal kept outside 24/7, go see if their owner would allow you to spend some time with him/her. And maybe, take that one step farther and see if you can give that animal a bath.

Oh, how a bath can matter to an animal that remains soiled 24/7 in their outside environment.  Even after a short time outside, a 24/7 chained animal can quickly become victim to being in the same spot day after day, after day.

The common courtesy of a bath makes a difference.

  • The obvious: bathing removes dust, dirt and grime.  No animal likes to be unclean – just like you.
  • Animals sweat. Sweat can be an irritant, and attracts mosquitoes.
  • Animal self-grooming only “cleans” so much.  It’s a myth that self-grooming takes the place of a bath. Note: if you see a domestic animal self-grooming excessively, that can be an indication of an allergy, a sore or infection, or something on the fur/skin that is bothering that animal.
  • Animals have allergies. Bathing helps alleviate allergy symptoms and soothes itchy skin.
  • A bath is a wonderful way to cool off, refresh, renew and energize on a hot day.

If given an option, any animal will avoid standing and lying in filth.  But many – MANY – animals are not provided an option, especially when forcefully confined to void, eat, sleep and live in the same place every day.

  • Fur becomes coated and encrusted with whatever is on the ground that they are forced to live on (example: dry dirt turns to mud when wet)
  • Stepping in urine and feces
  • Tipping over food bowls – food on the ground can spoil and/or attract other animals and bugs
  • Vomitus being stepped into and attracting bugs and other animals
  • Many bugs (biting and non) live in the grass and dirt, and will ‘ride’ around in fur and skin

There are many discussions on the pros and cons of regular bathing a domestic animal (of course always check with your vet if you have questions and concerns about bathing).

However, NOT bathing an animal out of neglect, lack of motivation or laziness is being a poor pet owner. Especially if you have made the decision to keep your pet outside 24/7. A dirty pet can be considered a sign of animal neglect. How far you take that determines whether you are neglecting or abusing your pet.

Janet Bovitz Sandefur Rescue Dog Jessie

Our rescue gal, Jessie, and her very first bath.

In between formal (shampoo) bathings, why not just turn on the hose and enjoy a little cool water play with your four-legged family member? Water play is a great way to cool off, alleviate boredom and wash away the day’s dust. Just remember NOT to tease or abuse ANY animal with water. That includes never turning a hose on any animal forcefully, or deliberately spraying water into eyes, ears, mouth, or anus.

And don’t think for a minute that bathing only applies to domestic pets. Farm animals enjoy the water JUST AS MUCH, for ALL the same reasons.

Four legs, or two, everyone has the right to feel and be clean.

So, roll up your sleeves or put on your bathing suit, and get wet for your pet!

Animal Advocacy Founder signature Janet Bovitz Sandefur

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4th of July – Not So Happy for Pets (from Janet)


Days before July 4th makes an appearance, fireworks and partying begins. And if July 4th falls early on that long holiday weekend, fireworks and partying continues until it’s time to go back to work.

Fun – mostly – for humans. Misery – mostly – for animals.

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 bring your pet with you to loud, crowded and unfamiliar functions unless you are 100% prepared for his/her comfort and distress.
  • NEVER deliberately expose ANY animal to loud noises, bright lights, and/or huge crowds.
  • NEVER play with or light fireworks or fire around an animal.
  • NEVER chain your pet near a bonfire.
  • 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.
  • NEVER light fireworks or light fire during drought or too-dry places. It only takes a spark to start a deadly fire.

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 (moderate) 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.
  • DO accompany your pet to go outside when fireworks are going off, so they can potty and stretch feeling safe and less afraid.

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.

And now a word about holidays:

Even on holidays, 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 holiday, 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 a holiday.

If you have another quick tip for keeping your pet safe and comfortable on a holiday, please let us know!  We’ll be happy to share it.

Here’s wishing EVERYONE – two and four-legged alike – a safe and a very Happy 4th of July!

Animal Advocacy Founder signature Janet Bovitz Sandefur




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