Month: October 2017

Safety Shouldn’t Be Scary for Halloween (From Janet)

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

Many people don’t like Halloween, but for those who do, and celebrate it – let’s revisit some simple common sense tips to help ensure that animals are out of harm’s way.

  • There are nasty people every where. It’s unfortunate that we even feel the need to mention it. But just like predators who prey on children, there are those that prey on animals. Many predators don’t need a specific occasion to abuse an animal, but there are those that ramp up their nastiness on events just like Halloween, and the night before. Be wary of strangers, never leave your pet alone with someone you do not know or trust, and if something looks wrong, it probably is, so keep alert in the event that you can help ANY animal in trouble.
  • Do you keep your pet outside 24/7? First, tethering or confining an animal outdoors in the same place, every day is misery for the majority of animals, who are pack-oriented.  Re-think your motives for wanting to keep your family pet outside every day. With that said, always go the extra step for your outside pet during bad weather, and holiday events.
  • It’s 10 PM, do you know where your pet is? ID tags and a safe collar are always good practice, but even more so during times when your pet is apt to get spooked, shy, scared, anxious, upset and/or excited. And, Halloween is definitely a time when your pet can be more prone to getting spooked, shy, scared, anxious, upset and/or excited.
  • Hide the candy. Check for candy that may have been dropped while handing it out, or that trick-or-treaters may lose in  your yard. Did you knowChocolate in all forms – especially dark or baking chocolate – can be dangerous, even lethal for dogs. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning may include vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and seizures. Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also be poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts of xylitol can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar and subsequent loss of coordination and seizures. Tin foil and cellophane wrappers are dangerous if ingested. If you do suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435. Candy is always better locked up where animals aren’t tempted and they can’t reach it.
  • Go easy on the pumpkins! Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are relatively nontoxic, but they can produce gastrointestinal upset or even intestinal blockage in pets who nibble on them.
  • Do you like to costume-up your pet for Halloween? If you are planning on dressing up your pet, don’t just show up on Halloween and drop your pet into his/her new garb.  Buy early, let your pet investigate it, and try it on a few times first. Costumes should be be restrictive or too warm. Some animals won’t potty if they are wearing something strange. Limit the amount of time your pet is in his/her costume, and make sure s/he can’t chew off any costume pieces. NEVER let your pet out of your sight if s/he is in a costume. And, certainly, if your pet definitely does not like the idea of wearing part or all of his/her costume, take it off! After all, pet costumes are for the HUMAN element of Halloween; no animal should be uncomfortable for ANY reason at the cost of entertaining a human.
  • What are YOU wearing? Make sure your pet knows who YOU are underneath all that glitter and make-up, and never tease ANY animal if you are wearing a costume. That’s just plain not nice. Speak up if you see someone scaring an animal in costume.
  • Are you taking your pet(s) to a Halloween event? Keep in mind how stressful that can be, even if s/he is with their owner. Although a lively event is fun for YOU, many times, especially times when others will be in costumes (and therefore not looking like a standard human being), these types of events can do a stressful and unpleasant number on your pet.
  • Are you having people over for a Halloween event, or is that doorbell going to ring all night? Better to keep your pet away from the in-house fun, and instead create a safe and quieter place where your pet hang (with access to water and toys of course) and that you can easily and routinely check up on him/her.
  • No candles or anything burning around your pet! End of story. Period. Just don’t.
  • Is your Halloween going to be glowing? Glow sticks are great to keep little ones in the light while trick-or-treating, but some are toxic. If you use them, lose them after Halloween is over, and keep them in a secure place.
  • How many Halloween lights do you need? Wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations should also be kept out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your dogs might suffer cuts or burns, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.
  • Don’t forget your smaller critters! Smaller pets should be given every consideration when necessary, so don’t forget them as you plan for holidays and special events.

Anyone can get caught up in the excitement of a party, event, or holiday. No harm in that. But when YOUR enjoyment or overindulgence leads to stress, neglect, or harm of ANY animal, then it’s time to rethink your actions and plans. Ultimately, it is YOUR responsibility to, well, BE responsible for your own pet, and to keep your eyes open if you see something happening to another animal that needs attention.

Remember, YOU are their voice and their protector!

This Halloween, have FUN, be SAFE, make your choices and options RESPONSIBLE ones, and certainly, if you have any other tips to make this coming Halloween weekend a better one for animals, send it our way and we will share it.

Happy, Safe Halloween!

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur









Animal Advocacy Founder signature Janet Bovitz Sandefur



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Halloween is Coming! Making It Safe for Pets

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

With Halloween just around the corner, here is some good advice to share.

Make It a Safe Halloween for your Pets!

Do you believe in Magic? This time of the year is particular magical, holding promises of fun and fantasy for the young and old. After all, Halloween is coming up! For kids especially, that sacred tradition of pretending to be someone-or someTHING-else in order to get sweet treats from your neighbor down the block is a time to look forward to from the moment school begins.

But for every tasty treat this holiday offers your human family, Halloween can play some icky tricks on your furry one. In order to keep your four-legged friends safe this Halloween season, the following is a list of safety tips to follow.

No candy here

  • They say that cats can’t taste anything sweet because they lack a specific protein receptor, but don’t tell me that! My cat loves sweet temptations like ice cream, yogurt, oatmeal with brown sugar, and, of course, chocolate. (By the way, cats aren’t the only animals who can’t taste sweet morsels-dolphins and spotted hyenas can’t either!) But as much as you may want to, please resist the temptation to offer your kitty or doggie a chocolate or candy Halloween snack. Many of these treats today contain Xylitol, a type of artificial sweetener that can make animals, especially dogs, very sick. If large amounts of Xylitol are ingested, it can even prove fatal. Other common Halloween treats could be toxic to animals too, including raisins, Macadamia nuts, and apple seeds.
  • If your pet does accidentally ingest something toxic (ever), you should immediately call your veterinarian or an animal poison center for advice, like the Pet Poison Hotline at 855-886-7965 (online at Just remember, that to keep them truly safe, instead of giving your pets candy or chocolate kisses, give them real ones instead!

Deceptively dangerous decorations

  • Many Halloween decorations have hanging chains, artificial spider webs, and long pieces of rope attached. An inquisitive pet could eat these items, which could then end up twisting inside their intestine or causing a serious intestinal blockage, possibly leading to a life-threatening condition. Dangling, loose, and other smaller decorations can also pose a choking risk to your pet. And, as cute as it may be, try to resist the temptation to dress up your pet Dachshund in a hot dog costume, because many pet costumes also have ribbons and loose threads that can be ingested. It can also stress your pet to be bundled into a restrictive costume on a night that is already going to be hectic and chaotic enough. Lastly, remember to be especially careful lighting that candle in your jack-o’-lantern! You don’t want your fuzzy friend to accidentally knock a candle over in the house or end up with singed whiskers or paws from getting too close to the flame.

Anxious pets and hectic holidays

  • If you’re like me and have a dog who can’t resist charging 100 mph to the front door at the ringing of the doorbell, or a cat who likewise scrambles under the bed at the sound of outside footsteps, do the right thing by putting them in a room away from the activity and making sure to close the door behind you. The constant stream of trick-or-treaters can be a huge stressor for a pet who is not used to constant stimulation. Out of fear, stressed animals are more likely to act angrily towards other people and animals.
  • The combination of a stressed-out dog and a sugar-stimulated child could result in disastrous consequences for that child, and for you, too. So throw your buddies their own Halloween party by finding an empty bedroom or closet, putting on some soft music or a white noise machine to drown out scary sounds, setting out fresh water, and laying down a comfy blanket or sweatshirt for your four-legged little monster to curl up on. And don’t forget the biscuits and catnip!

Always by your side

  • On Halloween and “Mischief Night” (the night before All Hallows Eve), there are always people who try to wreak havoc on your neighborhood. Toilet-papering trees and decorating your mailbox with shaving cream can be the least of it. Black cats may be lucky in Ancient Egypt, and modern-day Scotland and Japan, but there are some people who don’t feel the same way. On Halloween night, with so many people roaming the streets, there may be some who want to steal your pet, or any animal, regardless of color, for decidedly nefarious purposes. To be on the safe side, make sure your animals remain inside for several days, or even weeks, before and after Halloween. And remember that for pet cats, the only truly safe place for them to be is inside your house!

Identification Required

  • Always make sure your pets wear a collar, regardless of whether they are indoor-only or outside-friendly. On Halloween in particular, it is very easy for an animal to escape unnoticed through a constantly-opening door. Halloween is chock full of outdoor activities that could scare and traumatize even the friendliest and most outgoing of pets, so make sure your companion’s collar lists your cell phone number along with your home number in case you are out looking for your pet and their rescuer can’t reach you at home. And always have another collar made with your pet’s new address every time you move. This may mean the difference between a pet who ends up hopelessly wandering unfamiliar and dangerous terrain, and one who comes back safely to a happy and healthy home.

These are just a few safety precautions you can take to make All Hallows Eve as fun for your pets as it is for your children. Remember though, that accidents can happen, so you want to have your vet’s emergency number on hand, along with a list of your pets’ medications and medical conditions. All you need to do is treat your four-legged friends as carefully and with as much love as you do your two-legged ones. And I hope you and your pets have a safe and happy Halloween! Boo!

Kelly Connolly is an Eastern attorney who got her start in companion animal protection after attending Tufts Veterinary School for her master’s degree. For many years she worked at an animal protection organization focusing on pet issues like adoption, safety, health, and legislation. She has also volunteered for pet therapy programs, shelters, and rescue organizations. Her many interviews include: The New York Times, USA Today,, WJLA-TV, and WICC radio. She shares her home with two adopted cats, a 19-year-old Maine Coon mix named Gator, and an 11-year-old Silver Tabby named Butternut, who amuse and inspire her every day.

Animal Advocacy Guest Blogger Thank You Janet Bovitz Sandefur


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Autumn Safety Tips for your pets

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur


There’s nothing like crisp, cool air, the first months of school and luscious foliage to get you excited for the changing seasons. Your pet, too, is probably welcoming the break from hot, sticky weather. But pet parents, beware—fall is also a time of lurking dangers for our furry friends. From household poisons to cold weather hazards, the season is a minefield! Here are some tips to keep your pet snug and healthy during the autumn months.

  • The use of rodenticides increases in the fall as rodents seek shelter from the cooler temperatures by attempting to move indoors. Rodenticides are highly toxic to pets—if ingested, the results could be fatal. If you must use these products, do so with extreme caution and put them in places inaccessible to your pets.
  • It’s back-to-school time, and those of you with young children know that means stocking up on fun items like glue sticks, pencils and magic markers. These items are considered “low toxicity” to pets, which means they’re unlikely to cause serious problems unless large amounts are ingested. However, since gastrointestinal upset and blockages certainly are possible, be sure your children keep their school supplies out of paw’s reach.
  • Training tip: If you and your pooch haven’t been active outdoors in a while because of the summer heat, do some remedial recall training. Dogs, like people, get rusty on their skills if they aren’t using them.
  • Fall and spring and are mushroom seasons. While 99% of mushrooms have little or no toxicity, the 1% that are highly toxic can cause life-threatening problems in pets. Unfortunately, most of the highly toxic mushrooms are difficult to distinguish from the nontoxic ones, so the best way to keep pets from ingesting poisonous mushrooms is to keep them away from areas where any mushrooms are growing. Contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately if you witness your pet eating a wild mushroom.
  • In order to generate body heat, pets who exercise heavily outdoors, or who live outdoors, should be given more food during colder seasons. Make sure horses and other outdoor animals have access to clean, fresh water that is not frozen.
  • Autumn is the season when snakes who are preparing for hibernation may be particularly “grumpy,” increasing the possibility of severe bites to those unlucky pups who find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Pet owners should know what kinds of venomous snakes may be in their environment—and where these snakes are most likely to be found—so they can keep pets out of those areas.
  • Many people choose Fall as the time to change their car’s engine coolant. Ethylene glycol-based coolants are highly toxic, so spills should be cleaned up immediately. Consider switching to propylene glycol-based coolants—though they aren’t completely nontoxic, they are much less toxic than other engine coolants.

What do you do to add to the safety and well-being of your pet? Let us know, and we’ll share it! Your tip may be the life-saving tip for someone’s pet!

Animal Advocacy logo Janet Bovitz Sandefur

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Leave Those Leaves! (from Janet)


Fall has arrived—which means leaves are changing color and beginning to fall to the ground.

Did you know that leaving the leaves in your yard or garden not only saves you time and energy but also benefits wildlife? 

Here are a few good reasons to put down the rake:

  • Provide habitat for wildlife: frogs, turtles and salamanders rely on fallen leaves to provide cover and hibernation places; many moth and butterfly caterpillars overwinter in fallen leaves before emerging in spring
  • Provide food for wildlife: creatures like earthworms and millipedes reside in and decompose leaf litter, and also are themselves a source of food for bigger wildlife like birds and toads
  • Increase fertility of your soil: as the leaves decompose, nutrients are added to your soil, and also allows for greater water retention

So, the next time you would rather be doing something else than raking leaves – you’re in luck! Remember there are GOOD reasons not to rake, and forgo your raking in favor of doing something more fun this Fall. You’ll be doing wildlife, and yourself, a favor!


  • Think twice about cutting back all your bushes and branches before the cold weather hits. Wildlife NEED protection from the wintry elements as well as their natural predators. Protection from the winter weather is hard to come by, so make it easier on ALL wildlife and curb the urge to cut and trim everything on your property.
  • Don’t toss your fallen pine cones! Go HERE to find out why!

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur



Animal Advocacy Founder signature Janet Bovitz Sandefur

Animal Advocacy logo Janet Bovitz Sandefur







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Save Those Pine Cones This Fall! (from Janet)

Animal Advocacy Blog Animal Welfare janet Bovitz sandefur

Have you ever come across a pile of pine cone scales?  Usually you will find them under the Pine tree itself, close to the trunk.  Most times, the culprit are squirrels.  The scales (outer layer) of the pine cone are removed by both Grey and Red squirrels, so they can get to the pine nuts underneath, which are a natural part of a squirrels’ diet. 

If you are lucky enough to watch a Red Squirrel go about gathering pine cones, it’s something to watch. The Red Squirrel, being so tiny, has a hard time pulling the larger pine cones off the tree and then carrying them away to eat the pine nuts.  Instead, s/he will crawl to the end of the branches where the pine cones grow, and chew the end of off pine cone, severing it from the tree, so that it falls to the ground. Then it’s easier to grab the pine cone that way. Remember, this is a learned behavior handed down from adult squirrels to juveniles. Pretty cool.

Unfortunately, many home owners find squirrels, as well as the pile of pine cone scales, a nuisance.

But many others delight in watching squirrel behavior, and even are able to feed them by hand with time and patience.

Between the squirrels severing pine cones, and the trees naturally dropping them, in no time during the Fall, your lawn may have many pine cones lying around! But for squirrels and other wildlife, this is a wonderful thing. 

Did you know? Pine cones are a food source not only for squirrels, but for woodpeckers and deer. Deer will eat almost anything during times when food is scarce even though pine cones are not part of their main diet and not their first choice. Woodpeckers will pull the scales apart to get at the pine nuts. Even wild rabbits benefit from pine cones, because the scale of the cone can be hard, which, when chewed on by rabbits, helps to wear down their teeth which grow constantly.  Note: do NOT feed pine cones to domestic pets without first checking with your veterinarian.

With Fall here and Winter on it’s way, you can help keep squirrels, woodpeckers and deer fed during the colder months when food is scarce simply by relocating those fallen pine cones to another spot on your property that is clean and quiet.

We did:

Animal Advocacy Blog Animal Welfare janet Bovitz sandefur

We keep a few spots on our property wild and natural for our wildlife year around, and one of these spots is the perfect place for us to relocate our pine cones.

Now, all these pine cones probably looks messy to you, but it’s actually organized chaos! The majority of these pine cones will have been eaten by the end of the cold weather, and for anything left over, it’s easy enough to rake them up (along with the scale piles) to get ready for a new year.  And, I love that we are able to help wildlife in this little way that will have a positive big impact during the winter months.  

Speaking of pine cone scales, they are a good natural fertilizer, and a perfect way to add “mulch” cover to your gardens. We put down the pine cone scales first, and then top it off with regular mulch.  

So, maybe the next time you are getting ready to do a Fall clean-up, you’ll think twice about tossing those very useful pine cones, and relocating them instead. It will make a world of difference to hungry wildlife this Fall and Winter.

P.S. – And, think twice before you rake up all your leaves and prune everything for the Fall Season! Find out why, HERE!










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