Month: November 2016

De-Rut for Animals this Thanksgiving (From Janet)

nimal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

It’s sometimes easy to get into a rut. A rut where everything can feel the same, to the point where it’s easier to do nothing than to get up and get motivated to find something to do.

  • I’m bored
  • I’m too tired
  • It’s too late
  • It’s too early
  • I have no-one to do anything with
  • I’ll start tomorrow
  • I can’t think of anything to do
  • I don’t have the money
  • I don’t have the time

It’s unfortunate that so many people actually live their daily lives by the philosophy that they’re in a rut – but it’s not impossible to get out of one.

One of the best ways to de-rut?

  • Think about YOUR blessings
  • Be thankful for every one of them
  • Promise not to take advantage of them
  • Use your blessings to make a difference

What does that mean?

Okay, so you’re bored. But (BUT), you have the luxury of being able to get up, get out, get a drink or grab a bite to eat. If you’re cold, you can go in. If you’re hot, you can open a window. If you’re hurt, you can go to a doctor. If you’re tired, you can rest in comfort and in safety. If you’re anxious, you can go for a walk. If you’re itchy, you can use a back-scratcher.

You get where I’m going with this, right?

  • Most animals in need do not have even the most simple luxuries you might take for granted.

The point?

No matter what YOUR rut, YOU can do something to change it. It might not be the change you desire on every level, but you CAN do something to change it.

  • You can be thankful for what you have right now, and use those blessings to make a difference.

YOU are blessed. No matter what your situation is today, right now, you have the option to turn it around. And that’s a lot.

That’s more than most animals in need have, or hope to have.

If you can change the world for YOU, you can go one step farther, and change the world for an animal in need.

Today, and every day, take a moment to count YOUR blessings, and then use your blessings to make a difference for an animal in need who needs YOU to be their blessing.

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

Be thankful, be grateful, be appreciative, and live. And then take THAT and make it MORE for an animal in need.  It matters.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Animal Advocacy Founder signature Janet Bovitz Sandefur



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Happy Birthday to my Husband (from Janet)

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

I am blessed in many ways. It’s the reason for my many blessings that I am able to advocate in all the ways I do to save and better the lives of animals in need.

Advocating is a difficult passion. It’s hard, exhausting, emotionally tiring, a time-stealer, and many times, the call to help is not on  your schedule.

Advocating is also one of the very bests part of me.

In my journey of advocating, I have spoken with people from all over the world who have similar ideals, goals, and passions. During more than one conversation (and I have had hundreds), the topic has come up of how advocating affects family life.  There are many passionate individuals just like me who told me that they have had to limit their time and efforts in Animal Welfare because it was negatively impacting their spouse or partner.

That just floored me.  

With so many roadblocks in advocating, it greatly saddened me to hear that many individuals were getting similar treatment on the home-front.   

In part, I get it. Advocating, and all the comes with that, takes TIME. Sometimes it takes more time than we have in a day, a week, a weekend. It can mean using spare time, or time from/after work, to finish those calls or e-mails, meet that person, or  – literally, go save a life.

I guess if your spouse or partner does not feel the same passion, or his/her views on animals is different, or they simply dislike having to share your time (jealously and feeling left out/ignored comes to mind) – then things on a personal level can become conflicted and even get nasty.  I have heard a few really awful stories.

However, if your partner does not feel the same passion – but understand yours, or his/her views on animals is different – but you’re helping to save and better lives and that’s recognized, or if they simply dislike having to share your time – but have hearts big enough to work around that; then your relationship, from an advocacy standpoint is pretty golden.

My relationship is pretty golden.  

And, when it comes to my endeavors:

Despite the nights and weekends when we are two ships passing in the night because of my endless running for animals, we are golden.

Despite the times he finds me crying at the computer because of the horrible things I read, see and share for animals in need, we are golden.

Despite the times I need to talk something out because I am upset, angry and frustrated over an abuse/neglect situation, we are golden.

Despite the hours I spend worrying over an animal that I cannot get to or trap, we are golden.

And, when he so adventurously offers and accompanies me when I go to the aid of an animal in need, we are golden.

I think loving someone, really loving them, means also being open and big hearted enough to be able to embrace your partners’ passions, goals and endeavors, even if they are something you don’t share or completely understand. You can still support and encourage – and yes, be there – for your partner, even if you need to keep some distance because you want or need to. Committing to someone also means you are willing to be a testament to your partner’s story and experiences, even if they are not in sync with yours.  

My husband really loves me. But he was a loving, big hearted, kind soul long before we met. I think his heart just grows bigger each year.

And I’m glad, so glad, his heart grows bigger for me every year.

James, I love you so. Thank you for every moment, every way you love me.

And thank you for supporting me with one of the very best parts of me – my advocating.  You don’t have to support me, which makes it all the more special.

So happy to be so golden with you.

Happy Birthday.  xo

Animal Advocacy Founder signature Janet Bovitz Sandefur

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Guest Blogger, Aubrie Kavanaugh (

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

I manage a humane education website called Paws4Change. The name of my website and my advocacy work is an intentional play on words. My goal is to help educate you on some basic animal welfare concepts and lead you to subject matter experts who can help you explore topics in more detail. I want you to “pause” to think and then perhaps change some of your previously held beliefs.

So, why do I have this website and why do I do this? It all really boils down to five words that changed my life. Words have the capacity for incredible power over us. Most of us have heard things in our lives that just stuck for one reason or another. Such is the case for me and five words I heard in July of 2006.

Our Shepherd-mix was 16 when we let her go. She had become trapped in a body which no longer worked well and when she developed some cognitive issues, that meant it was time. After she left, I didn’t do well. I felt lost. I started donating supplies to my local animal shelter once a month in an effort to turn a loss into something positive as I honored the memory of my girl. I knew at the time that animals died in the shelter. Like most people, I assumed they were suffering or we had a pet overpopulation problem and we just could not save them all.

All that changed in mid-July when I was on the shelter’s website. I was looking for a wish list of items to donate and other information I could share with people to encourage them to adopt.  I ran across a video promoting the shelter and it got to a point where a dog was being walked from a kennel to a room. Tail wagging. A look of anticipation on his face. It took a matter of seconds for me to realize what was going on. The video didn’t show the act of taking his life, that I know of. I could not stop the video fast enough as my heart pounded in my ears and I began to lose my breath. When I later told the shelter director how offensive I found the video and I asked if the dog was really destroyed. She confirmed that the dogs in the video had been destroyed and then she said

nobody wants beagles these days

For all the emotion behind the words, she could just as easily have said, “old couches get destroyed” or “broken tables go to the dump.”

I got upset and then I got mad and then I got smart and learned why this was happening not only at my local shelter but across the country. I learned about puppy mills and breed bans and dog chaining and Trap-Neuter-Return for community cats and something wonderful called the no kill movement. And now instead of taking dog biscuits or dryer sheets to my “shelter” each month, I am an advocate for change.

In the years since I heard those five words, my advocacy efforts have been varied. I do volunteer work for nonprofit groups across the country by creating slide shows and videos using music which belongs to friends and contacts (in order to respect copyright laws).  I’ve dabbled in television PSAs for my own area. But perhaps the greatest focus of my advocacy in the last decade has been working to change the culture where local shelter animals are destroyed not because they are suffering or dangerous to the public, but for no good reason at all.

I tried rocking the community boat myself. That didn’t take me too far. It is too easy to be dismissed as a zealot or as being naive when you are the only voice saying “this is wrong. We can and must do better than this.”  I ultimately ended up bringing others to the cause. We formed a coalition which is essentially political in nature and we began rocking the community boat together while speaking with one voice. That process is a whole different story for another day. Advocacy isn’t pretty and it’s often exasperating and draining.  There are no days off and friends are apt to be lost along the way as you learn what is truly important to people through their behavior.

For not quite the last year, the shelter which is still run by the same veterinarian who destroyed the Beagle back in 2006 has had what we call a “live release rate” of approximately 90%. She resisted change for years and claimed she was doing a beautiful job at a time when 3 out of every 4 animals in the shelter were being destroyed under her leadership. The history here changed not due to her initiative, but due to the pressure of advocates as we took our topic to the public and sought support for change.  There are still some issues at the shelter related to programs and sick dogs, but animals now have a better chance of making it out of the shelter alive than at any time in the history of the city. I am sure that but for our advocacy, animals would have continued to be destroyed by the thousands and the shelter would essentially have been answerable to no one.

Margaret Mead once said, “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Exactly, Margaret, exactly.

Paws4Change® is an animal welfare advocacy organization founded by Aubrie Kavanaugh. The organization seeks to help people understand some fundamental issues related to companion animals so they can make better choices which affect themselves and our society. Paws4Change also supports rescue groups across the country through production of multimedia projects to help the people who help animals.

Connect with Paws4Change on Facebook.

Animal Advocacy Guest Blogger Thank You Janet Bovitz Sandefur

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Daylight Savings Can Affect Pets Too (

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur
While pushing the clocks back only one hour might seem like business as usual for us, our pets are sometimes not as amenable and might act up!  Just by switching the clocks to Daylight Savings Times, our dogs and cat’s schedules can be completely off-kilter!  Our fur children are so in tune with when they are going to be fed, what time to go to sleep and eat, that we need to be prepared!
Animal Advocacy Blog, Janet Bovitz Sandefur,

Photo courtesy of PetPav

Dogs and cats have internal clocks that affect their rhythm

Just like humans, animals have internal clocks that tell them when to eat, sleep and wake up. This biological timekeeper, also known as circadian rhythm, is set in motion by natural sunlight. However, for pets this effect is minimized by the artificial environment they live in, where light comes on not with the rising sun but with the flip of a switch.  Household pets might get grumpy when they show up to an empty food dish at their perceived dinner time.

Our dogs and cats are used to their routine so we need to ease them into the new time

A dog or cat’s daily routine is something they would prefer to be written in stone. Unfortunately, things happen that can alter schedules and a simple time change can be perplexing for some pets. When we gain an hour and can sleep in, our pets are still on daylight savings time and don’t understand why we’re still in bed when they are up and ready to go. Their internal clock is saying morning has arrived and it’s time to get moving (and get fed!).

Our dogs and cats are more affected by daylight savings than we are

Our pets, however, might feel the daylight savings shift more strongly than us. Pay attention to them this week; they might be cranky themselves. Sleepy dogs might not want to end their naps to go out on a walk earlier than expected. Or some cats might turn their noses up at food if that comes an hour before the normal time.  In the wild, animals pattern their lives around the phases of the sun, but domesticated pets follow their own versions of our schedules. Daylight savings can really mess with our pets internal rhythms for a few days, or even a week, until they readjust.

Try to change their schedule in increments and they will adjust quickly

The good news is most pets will adjust to the time change fairly quickly.  A few things you can do to make the transition easier is to keep them on their normal schedule and slowly begin to change their daily routine by 5-10 minutes each day.  Keep doing this until you make up for the hour change adjustment. Moving their feeding times, play time and walks back a little each day can make it easier for dogs and cats to adjust.

Most cats won’t be as affected as dogs will while some pets won’t even notice.  But, don’t be surprised if your dog or cat wakes you up earlier to be fed and might be a bit cranky this upcoming week!

– Petpav

PetPav was first created as a pet social network with articles on pet advice, pet care and pet news. We have revamped Petpav into an online magazine for all pet related topics. We wanted to create a place where you can get good, reliable information on anything pet-centric as well as entertainment, contests and more!

Check out PetPav, and connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+!

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

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Love Can Change Everything (From Janet)

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

For the past year, I have seen them happily walking around our area. A man, a woman, and a few cute dogs. They look like every other couple who owns family pets as they make their way down the street during all kinds of weather, at all times of the day – except for one thing. 

One of those cute dogs is buckled into a wheelchair.

It’s a curious thing, because not everyone has the opportunity, or the desire, to meet a challenged pet. 

One of the great things about me is that I am not shy. Which comes in VERY handy when you fight the good fight for animals in need.  My lack of shyness and willingness to reach out also comes in handy when it comes to wanting to share someone’s story.  Like Benny’s story.

I was able to meet Benny, his parents (John and Jan), and his other four-legged brothers and sisters one sunny afternoon, when I sat down with them to hear Benny’s story.

Benny wasn’t always paralyzed. About four year ago, he developed a back injury with two compressed discs that left him unable to use his hind legs. His back injury was not the result of neglect, but instead something that simply happened, in part, due to the type of breed that Benny is and the back structure that he has.

The type of paralysis that Benny had could have spread towards his head and neck.  This would have killed him.

Instead, the paralysis crept to his lower half, leaving Benny unable to move his legs, wag his tail, or feel anything past his lower back.  And, as if that wasn’t challenging enough, Benny was unable to urinate on his own, or even feel when he needed to go to the bathroom.

When Benny was first exhibiting signs of pain, they took him in for a vet visit, and discovered his back injury.

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

Benny, back shaved and convalescing at home.

Due to the severity of this type of injury, they knew very quickly that Benny would not recover without his walking being severely compromised.  

Their very first priority was pain management, followed by physical therapy treatments.  In addition, they needed to become experts at learning how to express Benny’s bladder so that he could be relieved of urine that he could not expel himself.

Summing up that kind of care in a few sentences does not remotely describe the many months it took to get Benny to the point where he was back to living a quality life, enjoying the things he used to.

In speaking with John and Jan, one of the topics that highly interested me was that many people seemed afraid of Benny because he is in a wheelchair. I guess, as with humans, when we see someone who looks or acts differently, it’s sometimes human nature to stare or wonder, but rarely does anyone walk up to that person and ask them what their story is.  And many times, people are afraid of those that look or act differently; sometimes because of a thought or stigma, and sometimes for no good reason. It can be the same for animals who are challenged. You’re curious, but, it is okay to ask?

Here’s my take (and only my take) on that.   Yes, if you are coming from a good place, it is always okay to ask after a challenged pet.  Many times, pet owners are happy to share their story and experience. And, someone else’s experience could very well be the experience to help another animal in need and/or motivate someone else to Just Do Something.

So, here are some of the questions, answered:

  • Was Benny sad when this happened, and is he depressed now?
    • Benny was a little quieter than normal during the time when he was dealing with the pain from his back injury.  He laid low for a while while he was recovering in terms of physical activity and wanting to do all the things he used to do.  However in all that time, his good-natured spirit and happiness were always at the surface, and he never showed signs of depression from his experience or situation.  When I met Benny, he was very bubbly, and very excited to meet a new friend, and he was bursting with enthusiasm when it was time to show me how he gets into his wheelchair and uses it outside.
  • Do the other pets in the house treat Benny differently now?
    • John and Jan says that things are the same with everyone in the house now, as they were before Benny’s back injury.  We were all in the same room together, and it was business as usual, which included everyone asking for pets and treats. 
  • How does Benny get around without his wheelchair?
    • Benny drags his hindquarters on the floor by his front limb and paws.  He has developed stronger muscles in his front limbs because of  this.  He moves around easily and does it quietly.
  • Can Benny feel anything in his lower extremities?
    • He can feel pressure now, and he can feel things like gentle tickling. He does not feel any pain in the areas affected by the paralysis, but he feels things as a non-paralyzed dog would feel every place else. His back injury no longer causes him any pain because the injury site has healed, even though the healing did not restore use of his lower extremities. Happily, Benny is starting to move his tail a little now, so wagging is coming back! 
  • What do Benny’s lower limbs look and feel like?
    • Benny’s looks like any other dog.  His paralyzed hind limbs are now, naturally, less muscular than his front limbs from lack of use (part of the effects of being paralyzed), but his legs, and tail, look and feel just like a non-paralyzed dog’s limbs.  When you pet Benny, on any part of him, his fur is soft and thick, and his back legs feel just like his front legs.  He does not mind being petted on his paralyzed parts; he will watch you so he knows what you are doing.   

      Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

      Benny at home.

  • How does Benny go to the bathroom?
    • John and Jan keep track of the clock, so Benny has regular trips outside to expel his urine, which is needed to maintain his health. Instead of catheterizing Benny’s bladder, which can lead to urinary tract infections, they learned how to express his bladder manually (with training from their vet).  It goes something like this: you straddle Benny (standing over him), and place both hands with fingers curled on either side of Benny’s lower abdomen, where his bladder sits. Then, using a gentle upwards, pressing motion with both hands at the same time, you gently press up and in to squeeze his bladder so the urine squirts out through his penis. It doesn’t hurt Benny, and he will stand there until you are done, and then he’s off and running again.
    • Having a bowl movement is a little more tricky, because you can’t express the bowel.  And Benny cannot always tell you when he needs to poop until it just starts happening naturally. He will lift his tail right before the moment strikes to signal you something is happening back there. Benny is watched carefully on his feeding schedule so John and Jan know when most bowel movements are expected. But yes, Benny does have bowel accidents in the house, which are to be expected from time to time, and they are cleaned up matter of fact.  Benny does not smell like pee or poop, and you would not know that he needs help voiding unless someone told you.

      Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

      Expressing Benny’s bladder.

  • How does Benny get into his wheelchair?
    • Initially, Benny had to learn about his wheelchair, and that meant he had to be picked up and placed in it. But now Benny is used to it so when it’s time to go out to play or just go for a walk, he will actually back into his wheelchair himself (by scooting backwards using his front limbs) so John or Jan can buckle him into it.  The wheelchair may look complicated, but it’s actually very simple. Benny backs his hindquarters into the open curve of the wheelchair, and then his back limbs are lifted up by a strap underneath his lower belly, and then that strap is secured onto the frame of the wheelchair.  This keeps Benny’s lower limb from dragging on the ground when he walks. It’s a very quick process to get Benny situated – it’s sort of like putting on a dog harness and just as easy.  I was surprised at how fast Benny is in his wheelchair, and how graceful. His wheelchair is light but rugged, so Benny can run like the wind even on bumpy ground surfaces, and this includes running or walking on wet and/or snowy elements. He is FAST!

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      Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

      Striking a post

  •  Can Benny be left alone?
    • Benny can be left alone for short periods, but his bathroom breaks are very important and cannot be missed or put off.  His health depends on it.  But, Benny does not have any anxiety or separation issues when it comes to being home without John or Jan.
  • Will Benny die early from his current situation?
    • No. Benny’s back injury has healed past the dangerous point. Benny is healthy and his paralysis is not spreading. Benny is showing some signs of being able to move one of back paws, which is a good thing! But – Benny will always be paralyzed.

Shortly after Benny’s back injury, he developed a potentially fatal condition called Megasophagus.  In many ways, this condition has been even more challenging and frightening than his paralysis.  

There are many animals just like Benny, who become gravely ill or injured to the point of a total life change, but still have a good future ahead of them with time and care. Unfortunately, tragically, and sadly, many pet owners will not commit to their pet once illness or injury happens. These are the people that dump/abandon their pets, drop them off at shelters, and/or have them euthanized. For them, illness or injury is not an option. It’s an inconvenience, and that becomes a death sentence for that animal.

There are no statistics available on the percentage of people who dump, drop or kill their family pets because of just this reason, but with over 7 million animals PER YEAR in shelters across the continental United States, you can bet that the percentage of droppers is very, very high.  And, know that 7 + million does not take into consideration the numbers of animals associated with those who dump/abandon or kill their pet for the very same reason.

Benny’s situation has been life altering, and life consuming. It has “cost” John and Jan money and their free/personal time.  But the price for this cost? Benny is well, happy and ALIVE.

Not once, during any moment, did it occur to John and Jan to do anything other than everything, in order to take care of Benny. Why? Because John and Jan are those kind of people; the loving kind. The kind of people where your pet is your family. For life.

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

Benny is FAST!

If I didn’t stop John and Jan to ask about Benny, I would have never heard Benny’s story. I would have never met such a wonderful family, where I came away not only feeling grateful that Benny has such an extraordinary, happy life, but also feeling inspired and in awe of what John and Jan both have done for Benny to make that happen.  

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

Benny, John and Jan

Not everyone is as gracious to their pets.  How incredibly lucky those animals are that have owners with huge hearts who knows that love can change everything.  Benny is proof of that.

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

Because love can change everything

John and Jan are helping to give back to the pet lover community by establishing an on-line community for Pet lovers, Pet-Related Service Providers, and Shelters.  
Read more here: Chatting Pets

Animal Advocacy Founder signature Janet Bovitz Sandefur




If you are dealing with a challenging pet health situation, always start with your private vet first.  Need more information or help? Let us know, and we’ll do our best to help you with resources.

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