Month: December 2016

Because Christmas is coming, again (From Janet)


Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

There are do-gooders, and then, there are do-gooders. Whether you are the former, or the latter, the majority of people feel that if they do just one charitable thing during the Holiday season that maybe they normally don’t do at any other time of year, that their obligation is done for the year, until next year.

How sad for them. How sad for those living lives of misery the other 364 days a year.

Being kind, compassionate, giving, aware, responsible and conscientious, is a way of life.  Doing the right thing, EVERY time, is a choice. A conscious decision made with someone else’s very best interest at heart. And it doesn’t matter if that someone else is a four-legged, or two-legged, living being.

What matters is that, if the ONLY thing that motivates you to be charitable is the Holiday season,
then you should live as if every day is the Holiday season.

Giving of yourself, extending yourself is a gift; it’s a blessing – it’s a privilege. If you are able-bodied, you can give of yourself. And with that, the possibilities are endless. Endless.

If you think you are too tired, too busy, too broke, too depressed, too lazy – welcome to the world of being alive. We all feel “too something” at one time or another.  If you’re up to your eyeballs in “too something” be thankful that you are. It means you’re living. It means you have choices you can make. It means you can do something to change your part of the world. It means that you can do something to change the world for someone else.

So many animals have so little freedom. Their lives aren’t their own. Their choices, lives and destinies are decided for them, based on who owns them, who captures them, who abuses them, and who neglects them.

The Holiday season is no different for these animals, than any other miserable day.  And for many animals, the Holiday season is tragically even worse.

It’s a poor excuse for someone to think that the only time of year that they need help make a difference is during the Holiday season. There is something wrong with society if the push to increase charitable acts only comes at Christmas time and at the end of year.

We can ALL make a difference EVERY DAY, in some way.  And, we should. We are ALL obligated to make the world a better place for ALL living beings.

Does everyone feel and think this way? Nope. Should we? Yep.

Be a 365 do-gooder, and encourage others to do the same.

And if you cannot bring yourself to be 365, then start NOW, planning for the next Holiday season. Because Christmas is coming, again.

Happy Holidays,

Animal Advocacy Founder signature Janet Bovitz Sandefur

Animal Advocacy logo Janet Bovitz Sandefur

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Guest Blogger, Karen Menczer (Animal-Kind International)

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

I first heard from Morris Darbo, Founder and Director of Liberia Animal Welfare & Conservation Society in 2012 when he sent me an email message, “Introducing LAWCS.” Morris had attached pictures of the LAWCS humane education program showing hundreds of school children gathered around a TV/VCR watching a show about animals and holding posters with sayings, “Be Kind to Animals,” “World Animals Day Celebration,” “We are all One.”

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

(Above: School children watch a video about animals during one of LAWCS humane ed sessions)

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

(Above: Some LAWCS Humane Ed classes have more than 100 students!)

I get a lot of email messages from animal welfare organizations around the world. In just the first 2 weeks of October this year, I received messages from Ukraine, Zimbabwe, India, Honduras, Pakistan, and Tanzania.  They find me through the non-profit organization I started and direct, Animal-Kind International. AKI raises money for our 11 partner organizations in poor countries, mostly in Africa. Although we’re unable to support most of them, I save every message I receive with the hope that one day, AKI will raise a lot more money and be able to help many more worthy organizations.

When I filed Morris’s message away, little did I know that just a few months later, I would have the opportunity to meet him in person. I work as an independent consultant on biodiversity conservation for the U.S. Agency for International Development—which is how I first got involved—in 1991–in helping animal welfare organizations in poor countries. And now, I was given the chance to go to Liberia for a few weeks on a USAID project.

That first time I went to Liberia, I met Morris and fellow volunteer, Abraham (Abie) in Voinjama, their home village, a 5 to 10 hour drive from the capital, Monrovia, depending on whether you go during the rainy season, and on how badly the road is washed out.

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

(Above: Morris, left and Abie looking at the humane ed and other animal-related material I brought to Liberia)

We talked about the LAWCS humane ed program, the plans Morris had for LAWCS, and animal welfare issues in Liberia. At the time, I wasn’t sure I’d be returning, but since then, I’ve gone back to Liberia on the same USAID project in 2015 and 2016, and will be going again—annually-through 2020 (at least that’s the plan!)

During my next two visits, I went with LAWCS volunteers to see their humane ed program in action—and that convinced me—I wanted to help LAWCS grow. It was time to make LAWCS an AKI partner organization.

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

(Above: A LAWCS Humane Ed class at Japan Cooperative Day School in Voinjama, Lofa County: back row, LAWCS volunteers, Korpo (now deceased) and Morris, and me)

So in January 2016, LAWCS became AKI’s 11th partner organization. We raise money to help LAWCS continue their programs:

  • LAWCS humane education program is now in 40 schools with over 25,000 children;
  • At each school, LAWCS forms two Animal Kindness Clubs whose members are community leaders in animal care and welfare;
  • LAWCS provides free plant-based meals for LAWCS humane ed classes to showcase the variety in animal-free diets;
  • LAWCS holds events in communities to raise awareness about dog bite prevention and responsible dog ownership education; and
  • LAWCS holds rabies clinics and provides basic care for pets, including de-worming, mange and wound treatment, eye and ear care, etc.

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur An LAWCS Clinic)

One highlight of 2016 was that Morris received a scholarship to attend the Humane Society of the US’s Animal Care Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada. I couldn’t imagine Morris being so close to New Mexico without visiting. So Morris spent a few days here in April: we went to the Animal Humane New Mexico shelter in Albuquerque, had a 3 hour tour of the Santa Fe shelter thanks to Ben Swan, Morris gave two presentations about LAWCS, and we even arranged for a fun day—at Chaco Canyon.

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

(Above: Ben Swan leading our tour of the Santa Fe animal shelter)

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

(Above: Morris visits Chaco Canyon, New Mexico)

One of the most striking things to me is that in Liberia, there’s a noticeable difference in the way dogs and cats are treated in communities where LAWCS has worked. You see people hanging out with their pets, children playing with their pets. That’s something you just don’t see in parts of Liberia—and in many other countries—where there’s no humane ed. LAWCS is changing the way people think of animals in Liberia, starting with the children, and AKI is doing all we can to help them.  

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

(Above: In Voinjama, Lofa Country, kids and pets are best friends!)   

One of LAWCS’s and AKI’s goals is to get Abie, LAWCS animal care volunteer, trained in basic animal care. In Liberia, there is only one vet in the whole country! And he is mainly focused on livestock. Abie received one month of training from a vet in Guinea, but needs to learn so much more to provide the care he’s requested to provide for pets from his community.

AKI is raising money to bring Abie to the US to be trained for one month at a shelter in New Mexico, and he will then return to Liberia and train other LAWCS volunteers. Spay/neuter isn’t yet a concept in Liberia (in part because it’s unavailable, but mainly because people sell puppies and some people eat dogs). So while s/n is certainly something that LAWCS will eventually introduce, we believe the first priority is to provide basic animal care and welfare. Training Abie will be a huge step in improving the health and well-being of Liberia’s dogs and cats.

To read more about LAWCS and to donate to AKI and designate LAWCS (we send 100% of all donations to our partner organizations), please visit, (We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.)  

Karen Menczer, Founder

Connect with AKI on Twitter, Facebook, Google +, and YouTube!

Animal Advocacy Guest Blogger Thank You Janet Bovitz Sandefur


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I Am The Silent Advocate (Tom M. from Texas)

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

There are about sixteen of us between Texas and Georgia.

We see you ourselves or we hear about you from others. It doesn’t matter how we find out about you; what matters is that we do.

Of course, first we do all the “right” things: we make calls on your behalf, we report the abuse and neglect happening to you, we take your picture – always more than one over a series of days, and we try to talk with your owner.

We network for drive-bys so that we can keep an eye on you, if your situation can have us wait a few days or weeks.

But many times, especially in the Southern states – those things don’t make a difference.

So WE make the difference.

It doesn’t matter if it’s wet, cold or windy.  We will come, and we do.

We usually come at night. When your owners are inside, sleeping comfy and tight, and you are still outside, as you are every day regardless of weather or bugs or filth.

Most times it’s easy. We see you. You see us. You are just happy for the sound of a kind voice, a gentle touch, a comfortable spot to lie your head that isn’t cold, or lumpy or covered with fleas.

And most times it’s just a quick snip of that too-tight collar, or worn rusty chain.

Sometimes it’s harder. We understand that your cramped, barren, dirty mound that you call your home is all you know. It’s okay to want to protect that place, the only place you have ever known. So sometimes it takes us a few night-time visits to get you used to us, so that you want to come with us.

And you always do.

As silently as we come, we go. Only when we go, you now have hope. 

You always go to a new home. Sometimes it takes a while, because you need time to adjust to kindness. Not all humans hit or forget to feed you or keep you chained up in the same place every day – you can take all the time you need to adjust to that.

It doesn’t stop there.  We will do drive-bys of your old home to see if you have been replaced. Sometimes you are, and sometimes, they are probably relieved that they don’t have to come outside every once and a while to check to see if you’re still there.  We watch, and wait to see if we are needed again. 

And we are.  We are always needed. And we’re happy to do it.

Here’s to giving hope to the hopeless.

– Tom M. (Texas)Animal Advocacy Guest Blogger Thank You Janet Bovitz Sandefur


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When “Just” Hurts (from Janet)

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

“It’s just rain”.

“It’s just some snow”.

“It’s just limping a little”.

“It’s just going to be slaughtered anyway”.

“It’s just a dog”.

In the world of humans versus animals, humans use word “just” a lot.


It’s a word that seems for many, easier to use in order to avoid or justify not taking action on something important or impacting; a socially acceptably method used to minimize an issue or a situation that honestly, shouldn’t be minimized.

But people do it. They say it. They use it – every day. Summing up something important as instead, making it sound like, “hey, it’s not that bad”.

But you know what? It is that bad.

Think about these sentences again, with a different slant:

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

It’s just rain.


Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

It’s just some snow.


Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

It’s just limping a little.


Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

It’s going to be slaughtered anyway.


Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

It’s just a dog.

Shame on anyone who thinks it’s okay to “Just” an animal in need.

Unless, of course, you’re going to JUST DO SOMETHING about it.

Animal Advocacy Founder signature Janet Bovitz Sandefur



Animal Advocacy logo Janet Bovitz Sandefur

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