Category: Blog

Guest Blogger, Penny Morgan ( Janet Bovitz Sandefur Animal Advocacy Animal Welfare


Maybe it didn’t strike me as soon as it should have, maybe I was a little slow, but soon it became impossible for any of us to ignore – the epidemic of poaching and trophy hunting devouring wildlife like raging berserkers. As astounding and dreadful as it is, it seems as though we or our children might never see a lion or a leopard or an elephant or a rhino again, except for those with the sad empty stares that come with captivity.

This would be an anthropogenic extinction with a vengeance, one motive, resulting in the horrors of poaching, being solely to feed the displaced narcissism of status conscious idiots by offering, say, rhino wine at a party in order to impress bosses with similarly limited intelligence. The horn as status symbol, and the rarer it gets, the higher the status value – until, of course, it disappears altogether. And then what? Who’s next up for the starring role?

The other motive, trophy hunting, is equally moronic – to earn bragging rights by shooting the biggest and the best and sticking the trophy on the den wall. ‘Mastering’ a lion or an elephant provides a type of ego satisfaction hunters might find hard to get elsewhere, but be in no doubt, whatever is claimed by these psychopaths (for they share so many features in common with serial killers), they have to go after the biggest and the best, for only these will suffice to demonstrate their superiority over the beasts of the wild. So it is that elephant tusks and mountain sheep horn curls have been found to be decreasing in size as a result of selective trophy hunting – artificial selection, if you wish.

These twin pressures between them, poaching and trophy hunting, are eliminating a heritage which we all should be able to share and wonder at, and hunters/poachers have no right to deprive us, or generations to come, that their shallow self-serving need is greater.

Since I’ve written before in the crime/thriller genre about animal welfare topics– I can’t think of a decent term for this sub-genre, except eco-thrillers (any improvement on this is welcome!) – such as the world of dog-fighting and the granting of personhood for great apes,  it seemed very natural to tackle trophy hunting and poaching. The intention of writing in thriller form about animal welfare/rights issues is to (hopefully) provoke concern among those who might not normally take much interest, to expand the support to prevent such horrors.

The more I researched this, the more evident it became that the whole business was at once straightforward and horribly convoluted. Straightforward because the motives are clear cut, the objectives unambiguous but complex because of the labyrinthine connections, spanning the world, and embracing no end of human trash more than happy to enrich themselves at the expense of our fauna.

The parallels with drugs or trafficking in humans or arms are quite stark in that all leave a wake of devastation, all involve bottom feeders at one end of the scale and kingpins, like drug barons, at the other. All ensnare the greediest of humans who allow nothing to get in their way of making money. Remember the late Roger Gower recently killed when his helicopter was brought down by gunfire from a poaching gang (3 elephant carcasses were found nearby). Many brave rangers are murdered by poachers.

One of the qualities demanded of successful trophy hunters or poachers, like those of drug dealers, is indifference to anything but their own selfish desires. At least one study found that sport hunters can be narcissists, impulsive, manipulative and somewhat psychopathic — that is, demonstrating a lack of empathy or remorse for the animals (don’t forget those posed pictures with the slaughtered victim proudly stuck up on Facebook) – and it is well-known that psychopaths who are serial killers all too often start with animals. The likes of Jeffrey Dahmer and David Berkowitz (the “Son of Sam”) started out torturing animals.

We need to be wary of these people, but they do furnish interesting material for a story. There’s fertile ground here for fashioning a tale built around the brave attempts to prevent poaching and pseudo-trophy hunting.

Before researching I hadn’t realised that there were so many museum thefts across Europe to steal rhino horn (see the recent case; ). Even safari parks have been targeted. Nor did I know that jihadi groups found poaching rhinos and elephants a lucrative source of funding; nor that the Triads are involved in many forms of poaching from abalone to ivory.

The effects on our fabulously diverse fauna are catastrophic, and make no mistake this is a war, and like all wars there are many fronts. So we, too, must fight on all fronts and this story is a small contribution since I’m not brave enough to face these cruel monsters in person.

– Penny Morgan

After graduating in Zoology from King’s College, London University, I went to Bristol University’s Psychology Dept. to complete a PhD in Animal Behaviour. Later, in Southampton University, I did Post-Doctoral Fellow research into both sleep and bird behaviour. Later (after my children were of a school age), I started the new Psychology Advanced Level course at Peter Symonds’ 6th Form College, now one of the largest in the UK. I have published scientific papers and contributed chapters to a book (‘Social Behaviour in Birds and Mammals’, Academic Press). During the course of researching various aspects of my first book, Prime Witness (about apes gaining ‘personhood’ rights), I became absorbed by the legal issues, so I enrolled in a LLB course (London University) and obtained an LLB in 2003. I have since written two more books – Blood Wood (about illegal logging) and Devil’s Dogs (dog fighting) – and am in the process of completing a fourth (Trophy, about poaching rhino horns). I have contributed articles to the Journal of Animal Law Welfare (the journal of the Association of Lawyers for Animal Welfare), and Protect (the magazine of the League Against Cruel Sports. I’m currently Vice President of the League Against Cruel Sports.

Connect with Penny on Twitter!

Animal Advocacy Guest Blogger Thank You Janet Bovitz Sandefur


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Happy Mother’s Day! (From Janet) Janet Bovitz Sandefur Animal Advocacy Animal Welfare

ALL sentient beings deserve kindness and compassion.  ALL. OF. THEM.

Today, and always, keep in mind ALL of the four-legged Moms that, because of humans, because of us:

  • Are forced to breed
  • Are kept in captivity
  • Are not given the opportunity to have their young by their side
  • Have lost their life before their young are grown
  • Have lost their freedom
  • Do not receive consideration or compassion
  • Are not provided basic care
  • Are forgotten
  • Are left outside
  • Are abandoned
  • Are starving
  • Are sick
  • Are doing their best to take care of their young, with so many roadblocks
  • Are dying, somewhere

Do what you can, when you can – it matters.

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

Before I was a Mom –
I slept as late as I wanted and never worried about how late I got into bed. I brushed my hair and my teeth every day.

Before I was a Mom 
I cleaned my house each day. I never tripped over toys or forgot words to a lullaby. I didn’t worry whether or not my plants were poisonous. I never thought about immunizations.

Before I was a Mom –
I had never been puked on – Pooped on – Spit on – Chewed on, or Peed on. I had complete control of my mind and My thoughts. I slept all night.

Before I was a Mom –
I never held down a screaming child so that doctors could do tests…or give shots. I never looked into teary eyes and cried. I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin. I never sat up late hours at night watching a baby sleep.

Before I was a Mom –
I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn’t want to put it down. I never felt my heart break into a million pieces when I couldn’t stop the hurt. I never knew that something so small could affect my life
so much. I never knew that I could love someone so much. I never knew I would love being a Mom.

Before I was a Mom –
I didn’t know the feeling of having my heart outside my body. I didn’t know how special it could feel to feed a hungry baby. I didn’t know that bond between a mother and her child. I didn’t know that something so small could make me feel so important.

Before I was a Mom –
I had never gotten up in the middle of the night every 10 minutes to make sure all was okay. I had never known the warmth, The joy, The love, The heartache, The wonderment or the satisfaction of being a Mom. I didn’t know I was capable of feeling so much before I was a Mom.

– author unknown

Look around you. Motherhood is everywhere.  Mom’s are amazing. Every Mom, no matter WHAT living, breathing Mom she is, deserves motherhood from start to finish.

Let’s start celebrating ALL Mom’s.

Happy Mother’s Day to those incredible women who went from before they were a Mom, to well, being a Mom.
We wouldn’t be here without you. xo

Animal Advocacy Founder signature Janet Bovitz Sandefur


Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

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Top Ten Pet Poisons

Before you Comment, take a moment to review our guidelines!


APCC =  Animal Poison Control Center

1. Prescription Human Medications

The APCC handled 24,673 cases regarding human prescription medications in 2013. The top three types of medications that animals were exposed to include: heart medications (blood pressure pills), antidepressants and pain medications (opioids and prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Many of these exposures were due to people dropping their medication when preparing to take it, and before they knew it, Fido had gobbled the pill off the floor.

2. Insecticides

Insecticides are used in the yard, home and on our animals. While 15.7% of all calls to the APCC are about insecticides, more than half of the calls involving cats pertain to felines exposed to insecticides. Always read the label before using any insecticide on your pet, in your home or in your yard.

3. Over-the-Counter Human Medications

Over-the-counter human products accounted for 14.7% of calls to APCC in 2013. This group contains acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen as well as herbal and nutraceutical products (fish oil, joint supplements). Many of these products are tasty to pets, and some can be life threatening if ingested.

4. Household Products

There were nearly 17,000 calls to the APCC about household products in 2013. Household toxins can range from fire logs to cleaning products. Some items can be corrosive, while other can cause obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract requiring surgical intervention.

5. People Food

Human foods are especially appealing to pets, especially dogs. Dogs can get themselves into serious trouble by ingesting onions/garlic, grapes/raisins and xylitol, a sugar substitute which can be life-threatening for animals.

6. Veterinary Products and Medications

Veterinary products slid down two spots in 2013. Both OTC and prescription veterinary products are included in this group. Flavored tablets make it easy to give your pet pain or joint medication, but it also makes it more likely for them to ingest the entire bottle if given the chance.

7. Chocolate

Chocolate is still the number one people food that pets ingest (APCC received an average of 26 calls a day last year). Too much chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, high heart rate and seizures.

8. Rodenticides

When putting out baits to kill mice and rats, never underestimate the resourcefulness of your pet. Approximately 5.5% of calls to the APCC in 2013 were related to baits. Depending on the type of rodenticide, ingestion can cause internal bleeding, kidney failure or seizures.

9. Plants

More than 9,000 cases in 2013 were pet parents calling about their animals eating plants. This is one category that cats lead dogs in the number of exposures. Lilies can cause kidney failure and death in cats. Please see the list of toxic/non-toxic plants for more information. 

10. Lawn and Garden Products

Fertilizers, which can be made of dried blood, poultry manure and bone meal, are very attractive to pets, so it is not surprising that APCC receives many calls (over 5,000 in 2013) on lawn and garden items.

If you have any reason to suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please contact your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435.


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