Month: July 2017

25 Ways to Help an Animal Caregiver (from Janet)

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Does this sound familiar: your friend or loved one is caring for an ill animal. Your heart breaks for them and you really want to be helpful, but you don’t know how?

Animal Advocacy Blog Animal Welfare janet Bovitz sandefur

Usually, even the most heartfelt, “Let me know if there is anything I can do to help” falls on deaf ears. Already overwhelmed with care-taking, your loved one can’t figure out what they need or how you fit into the puzzle.

Instead of a general offer, you can help your loved one much more by suggesting something concrete that you can do, something perhaps they wouldn’t have even considered. Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Spend time with them, even if you don’t know what to say or do.

2. Send a quick note to let them know you are thinking of them.

3. Lend an ear. Almost everyone in crisis needs a sympathetic friend to listen.

4. A check in regularly. After the initial crisis is over, the wave of support may dry up leaving your friend feeling very alone. Let him or her know you are there for the long term.

5. Raise funds for veterinary and other care expenses ( is an excellent site for this).

6. Organize meals for the family using or

7. Use to create meaningful memories. You and other loved ones can record what they love about the animal, then you can download the finished product and send it to your friend.

8. Loan a baby monitor.

9. Offer to care of their other pets – walk the other dog, clean litter boxes, etc.

10. Give or arrange for home massage, acupuncture or Reiki session for the caregiver or the pet.

11. Offer to watch the animal while they take a nap.

12. Offer to grocery shop or run errands.

13. Prepare meals for the pet (such as stew or boiled rice and chicken).

14. Bring flowers.

15. If the animal is in the hospital and your friend is spending a lot of time there, bring a care basket to the hospital with drinks, snacks, magazines, puzzle books, a cell phone charger.

16. Give hugs. Lots and lots of hugs.

17. Be silly and make jokes; laughter is healing.

18. Bring pictures and talk about your favorite memories.

19. Offer to drive.

20. Help with the kids.

21. Do the laundry.

22. Give your frequent flier miles so family can come visit.

23. Send loving messages.

24. Arrange for an artist to draw or paint a picture of the animal. You can find talented artists in many places – you may even know one! Try for a quick and inexpensive option.

25. Let them cry – without trying to cheer them up. Some things can’t be fixed and truly are sad. Crying is therapeutic. Be a safe place where they can express their real feelings.

Sometimes, the simplest gesture makes the most impact. 

“You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”
~ John Wooden

Is there something you have done for an animal caregiver, or that you have been on the receiving end of, that helped make a difference, eased the burden, or given comfort?  Share it with us, and we’ll let others know. 

Animal Advocacy Founder signature Janet Bovitz Sandefur

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Donating Doesn’t Have To Break Your Bank (from Janet)

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By this time, most of us have been bombarded and overloaded with commercials, calls, mailings and e-mails – all asking you to give money to this cause or that.

And let’s be honest. Some of the methods organizations and individuals use to get  you to donate are pretty awful.

If they’re not guilting you, they’re tugging at your heart strings, and making you feel like crap if you truly don’t have the funds to donate.

Granted, the majority of the causes being highlighted are worthy. But, it’s up to you how much money you want to give, and where you want that money to go (meaning, do your homework before you write that check).

What so many people may not realize, or may not care think about, is that many times, charity does begin at (or closer to) home.

Not everyone has the money, or inclination, to financially donate.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t JUST DO SOMETHING to make a difference.

And you don’t always have to give money to make a lasting impact.

Here are some things you can do that won’t break your bank account:

  • Offer to walk an outdoor dog chained in the same place every day
  • Volunteer at your local shelter
  • Start a drive for dry dog and cat food that you can bring to your local church
  • Finally make that call to 911 about the dog you see outside without proper shelter every day on the way to work
  • Foster a dog that temporarily needs a home 
  • Offer to help feed a local feral cat colony (yes, they’re in your town, also)
  • Help network for an animal that needs help
  • Get educated on a cause and spread the word

Literally, making an honest effort to help save or better the life of even ONE animal in need, makes a difference.  All it takes is a willingness to help – and whether you have money or not doesn’t matter. Money doesn’t walk that outside dog – WE do.

So, maybe the next time you see that commercial, or get that e-mail, instead of focusing on what you can’t donate, think about all the ways you CAN, and then do it.  Animals are waiting, and waiting, and waiting.

Let’s make it a good Summer season for animals, because WE can.

Animal Advocacy Founder signature Janet Bovitz Sandefur


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You Don’t Have To Be Like That (From Janet) Janet Bovitz Sandefur Animal Advocacy Animal Welfare

“Something’s different about Linda”, an acquaintance mentioned in casual conversation this past week.

“What do you mean?”, I asked.

“Well, I don’t want to sound weird or corny or anything”, this person went on, “but she’s changed – in a good way. She’s been really devoting herself lately to some animal welfare issues”.

“That’s a beautiful thing. Why would that be weird of you to say?” Now I am curious.

Pause. “I think it IS a good thing.  But, you know, no-one really talks about stuff like this too much.  People might it’s weird because she’s talking about it more. To everyone. What if she turns into an animal hoarder or a crazy cat lady now?’

I got the feeling that this acquaintance was asking my permission to be accepting of Linda’s increased openness about the things she was doing to help make a difference in the lives of animals in need.  It’s no secret: You don’t need permission to embrace Animal Advocacy.

Regardless, I had to stop her right there.  And initially I stopped her with “You know, you don’t have to be like that”.

“Like what?”, she asked.

Sometimes (sighing here), you really DO need to spell it out to someone else.

Being an animal advocate doesn’t mean you hoard animals.

It doesn’t mean that you will suddenly become “that woman” down the street who takes in every stray cat that comes along.

It doesn’t mean that you will become closed to everyone else or everything else.

Being an Animal Advocate means that:

  • You care – and you let that show
  • You  know compassion matters – and you give it freely wherever there is a need
  • You understand the importance of speaking up and speaking out – and you speak up and out even if it’s hard
  • You get that education and awareness make a difference – so you share what you know
  • You take initiative when and where you can (and even when you might fail) to better and save the lives of animals – because you can
  • You JUST DO SOMETHING every day – because it matters

At some point, you may be put in the path of someone whose ignorance about Animal Advocacy has them fooled into stereo-typed thinking (believe it or not, MANY people think like that).

Do them, and us – the Animal Advocates – a favor; start a conversation with “You Don’t Have To Be Like That”.

Because you know what, you don’t.

Animal Advocacy Founder signature Janet Bovitz Sandefur


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Because Cruelty is Everywhere (from Janet)

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My husband and I were taking the scenic route to our destination, so we opted for the winding back-road lined with trees, and with the windows rolled down, accompanied by at least a dozen different bird songs to lead the way.

The road was quiet, except for the white rental van in front of us.

Big huge nature lovers, up ahead, on the shoulder, we were happy to see a baby skunk, slowly making his or her way from the shoulder back to the wooded area off the road.  Another two feet or so, and baby skunk would be off the road and under the safe cover of brush and trees.

In two horrible, awful seconds, however, peace turned to horror.

The white van in front of us actually changed direction, deliberately driving to that shoulder of the road, and hit that baby skunk.  They sped UP to do it.

The van took off, too fast to get a license plate.

We pulled over to baby skunk to see if there was something we could do, but the light in his/her eyes was no more. 

By the time we got back in the car, and sped up ourselves to look for the white van, it was gone. Too many turns-offs and places to stop. They could have been anywhere.  

We called 911, but all we could provide was the description of the van, and the direction we saw it last go. Sigh.

Such a wonderful, tiny life, snuffed out because of the cruel whim of someone in a vehicle – doing something unthinkable just because they could.

Even if you can’t prevent something awful from happening ALL the time, there will be many times that you WILL be able to JUST DO SOMETHING about it.

  • So please, a reminder to keep your eyes  and ears open, and never for one moment think that someone else will take the time to stop to help. One day it might just be YOU to come to the aid of an animal in need, and in that moment, you are the ONLY hope for that one animal. 
  • That includes animals left in hot cars, and/or those tied outside without shelter or water. Speak UP, and DON’T LEAVE until help comes.
  • It matters to that animal.

Such a sad, short story, that hopefully makes you stop and think, and remember.

Remember that there are many cruel people, doing many cruel things, every day. Because sadly, cruelty IS everywhere.

Do your part, where and when you can. It really matters.

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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