Month: November 2014

Guest Blogger, Kelly Connolly (Attorney)

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur just-do-something.orgTempting Treats and Tummy Troubles

Does your kitty get the” Meow-nchies” around the holidays and start eating packing tape? Does your dog howl “Bow-OWWWW” after regurgitating the holiday hambone he gets ahold of? The holiday season offers a rich variety of foods and pretty ornaments that might appeal to your pet’s epicurean senses, but beware-these delights could lead to all sort of animal-health havoc. Read on for a list of seasonal foods and products for your furry friend to avoid-and ones he can savor-so both your and your pets can celebrate the holidays in style:

Cookie Monster

I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for a sugarcoated Christmas cookie. Or one of those peanut blossom treats with a chocolate kiss on top after Thanksgiving dinner. But did you know that sweets are not recommended for cats and dogs? Not only do many dessert delicacies contain Xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is especially toxic to dogs, but cats are at also at risk because of theobromine, a chemical compound commonly found in many types of chocolate. Plus, a diet rich in sugar (which is even found in certain pet treats and dry food) can lead to all sorts of problems for your pets, including obesity and diabetes. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas can’t regulate the proper amount of insulin needed to break down sugars in the blood stream. Diabetes Mellitus, also known as sugar diabetes, is particularly common in overweight pets, and is a chronic and debilitating disease that could cause lethargy, dehydration, coma, and even death. So even though you may want to shower your pets with love by spoiling them with rich foods this season, it will mean much more to them if you feed them wholesome treats instead. Try leafy, green veggies for your cat, and almonds or cashews for your pup (but skip the macadamia nuts, which are poisonous to dogs!). You can even dole out small amounts of cheese as tokens of your affection. Believe me, your furry pals will thank you in the long run!

Tantalizing Tinsel

We all love the sight of sparkly tinsel or strings of lights during the holidays. Tinsel, ornament hooks, dangly decorations, and strands of holiday lights are utterly irresistible to curious pets, especially those with hearty appetites! But these types of adornments can pose potential choking hazards to your pets, and if ingested, can lead to emergency intestinal problems. Metal ornament hooks or glass decorations can also break into sharp pieces that could seriously cut your pets’ paws or mouths. All these types of garnishments should be placed well out of reach of pets, especially those who are prone to jumping onto tables or mantels in search of holiday trimmings. You should also use caution when hanging strings of lights, lest Fido or Fluffy decide to munch an electrical cord and receive the shock of his life.

Turkey Terror

Who doesn’t love a holiday dinner of turkey, chicken, or ham with all the trimmings? If you have a dog like I do, he would gobble down an entire roast in a minute flat! But animals fed rich holiday food can suffer an array of ailments. Veterinary annuls are full of stories of pets choking on animal bones, often leading to death or serious injury. Bones may also splinter as a pet chews them, leading to mouth, throat, or stomach injuries. Many human holiday foods are prepared with heavy sauces loaded with calories, or covered in rich sauces that could cause intestinal upset, including pancreatitis. Furthermore, avoid giving fat to your pet, because eating too much fat could lead to stomach upset, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Flower Power

Food and decorations aren’t the only potential problems your pets could run into this holiday season. Many seasonal plants and flowers are also toxic or poisonous to your pet. Poinsettias, mistletoe, and holly may spread holiday cheer to people around the world, but if ingested by your pets, these plants could lead to severe gastrointestinal upset, coma, or even death. Lilies, daffodils, and even Christmas tree needles also fall into the “Do Not Ingest” category. To be absolutely safe, refrain from bringing any plant whose toxicity level is unknown into your house, and remind potential houseguests to do the same. However, if you do have pets that absolutely insist on munching anything green, try some organically grown cat grass for your kitty, or plant some rosemary or peppermint herbs for your dog.

If you suspect your pet has ingested something potentially toxic, call your veterinarian right away, or The Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-764-7661-even on a holiday. But just like with any seasonal indulgence, caution and moderation are the keys to a safe and healthy holiday-both for you and your four-legged friend.

For a list of toxic foods and substances, please visit For more information on non-toxic and toxic plants, please visit

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur just-do-something.orgKelly E. Connolly is an Eastern Attorney who writes on the side. Her expertise in animal issues has led to interviews on television and the radio, and with The New York Times, USA Today, and She shares her home with two mischievous, elderly cats and one goofy, misbehaved dog. She can be reached at

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Guest Blogger, Stacey Evans Attorney, Animal Welfare Leader

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur by James Ferry of Louis Luigi and Stacey)

During my childhood, I cared for hamsters, rabbits, and dogs. I remember reading about dog breeds and dog behavior in my spare time during college and during summer breaks from law school.

After graduating from Law School and obtaining a job doing what I thought I wanted to do – which was to practice maritime law – I felt unfulfilled. I thought having a child would fulfill me, until a couple of my friends with children suggested that I get a dog instead of having a child.

After thinking about their suggestion, I decided to adopt an American Eskimo dog named Kain, from Eskie Rescuers United. Caring for Louis Luigi, formerly known as Kain, awakened my passion for animals—especially those of the canine variety.

I began honoring my passion for animals by studying laws, legislation, and policies impacting animals as well as studying dog, wolf, coyote, and fox behavior. I served on boards of organizations dealing with animal issues as well as volunteering to walk, train, and socialize dogs at an animal shelter, which enhanced my knowledge of legal, policy, and legislative issues facing animals in the United States. To address those challenges, I recently launched Humane Strategies, Benefit LLC.

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur of Stacey giving a presentation with award-winning journalist David Grimm at a Museum of  Maritime Pets event)

Humane Strategies, Benefit LLC (HSB) is a business dedicated to making a positive social and animal-friendly impact by promoting animal health, the human-canine bond, sound wildlife conservation and sound wildlife management, with a focus on dogs and their wild canine relatives. See

Humane Strategies, Benefit LLC (HSB) makes a positive social and animal-friendly impact in three ways:

  1. HSB empowers nonprofits, scientists, and veterinarians to advocate effectively resulting in laws and policies promoting animal health, the human canine bond, and sound conservation and management of wildlife through advocacy training and strategic counsel;
  2. HSB educates nonprofits, scientists, and veterinarians about animal related laws, policies, and issues; and
  3. HSB empowers people to have great experiences with dogs through coaching and education.

Services Humane Strategies, Benefit LLC provides include the following:

  • Strategic Counsel
  • Drafting Legislative Testimony
  • Reviewing Legislative Testimony
  • Legislative and Policy Analysis
  • Advocacy Training
  • Human-Canine Bond Coaching
  • Public Speaking on Animal Related Laws, Policies, and Issues

For more information read about our Services at Humane Strategies, and visit us on Facebook.

Contributed by Stacey Evans, Animal Welfare Leader, Attorney, Government Affairs Expert

Animal Advocacy Guest Blogger Thank You Janet Bovitz Sandefur


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Guest Blogger, Paul Reynolds (

Wild Futures and the Primate Pet Trade

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

Wild Futures is a UK registered charity founded upon almost five decades of experience as a leader in the field of primate welfare and conservation, education, and sustainable practice. We are committed to protecting primates and habitats worldwide, with our UK flagship project “The Monkey Sanctuary” housing monkeys rescued from the primate pet trade and other abusive captive situations. The Monkey Sanctuary is the only GFAS (Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries) accredited sanctuary in Europe and we are also one of the founding members of EARS (European Alliance of Rescue Centres and Sanctuaries).

The Monkey Sanctuary (picture below) © Wild Futures

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

Our primary focus at Wild Futures is to protect primates and one of our main methods for achieving this is through education. Our education program raises awareness of the serious conservation and welfare implications for victims of the primate pet trade and other issues affecting primates worldwide. Some of the monkeys at our Sanctuary were born in the wild and through both legal and illegal means, have ended up as pets in Europe. Kodak the capuchin (see photo below), started his life in the rainforest and probably witnessed his family group shot. He then found himself transported across the globe to Greece where he was kept in a photo shop, until his owner realised he needed to be with others of his own kind. He is now the alpha male of his own group at our Sanctuary.

Kodak (picture below) © Wild Futures

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

We estimate with the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) that there are at least 7,000 privately owned primates in the UK, with further evidence suggesting it is far higher and there are signs that the primate pet trade is on the increase. Our Sanctuary witnesses the damage caused by this trade every day. Of the 37 monkeys residing at our Sanctuary, many of them display serious physical and psychological problems resulting from their time kept as pets. Our campaign work has led to much advancement, including political recognition that the trade in primates as pets is an issue within the UK, the publication of the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Privately Kept Non-Human Primates (to be used in conjunction with the Animal Welfare Act 2006) and strong public support, which has resulted in a parliament led committee discussing the UK Primate Pet Trade.

We are always looking for volunteers to come and stay at the sanctuary and help us to care for the monkeys and for dedicated people to volunteer as ambassadors and help raise awareness about the issues surrounding the trade and use of primates.

We are working hard to protect primates and their habitats worldwide and strive for the day when all monkeys are free from the threat of the pet trade, free from malnutrition, mental, physical and emotional suffering.

Mario the Barbary Macaque (picture below) © Wild Futures

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By Paul Michael Reynolds MSc, Education Officer and Primate Keeper

Paul Reynolds started off at Wild Futures as a volunteer after completing his MSc in 2010, he swiftly advanced to become a primate keeper intern and then entered his current role as Education Officer. He is driven and committed to ending the exploitation of primates for any purpose. You can email him at

Wild Futures Social Media Pages:

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Paul talking about Maya the Woolly Monkey










Animal Advocacy Guest Blogger Thank You Janet Bovitz Sandefur

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Guest Blogger, Sharon Seltzer (

Lessons From A Paralyzed Dog Brings Support For Special Needs Pets

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

Advances in veterinary medicine, pet nutrition and better educated pet owners have led to a dramatic increase in the lifespan of our cats and dogs. It’s not uncommon for dogs to reach their teens and for cats to live 20 or more years. While these miracles are allowing us more time with our four-legged family members, pet longevity can be a double-edged sword.

Cats and dogs that would have died suddenly in past years are now more likely to develop a chronic disease that turns their guardian into a fulltime caregiver.

One of the scariest days in my life was when my veterinarian told me that my 10 year-old dog Sophie was going to be paralyzed in her hind legs for the rest of her life. With years of experience in animal rescue I had a good idea of what that diagnosis meant for both Sophie and my family. It left me feeling inadequate and alone.

Sophie is the reason I started Lessons From A Paralyzed Dog. It’s a website and community for pet owners who are facing paralysis, partial immobility and neurological problems with their dogs and cats. We provide information, support and resources to these guardians so they don’t feel isolated while they are taking care of their cherished pet.

I found that taking care of Sophie was a 24/7 endeavor and I didn’t know where to turn for answers. I didn’t want any other pet owner to go through this stressful time.

Most cities and towns don’t have services especially designed for disabled pets so most of us going through this ordeal rely on our busy veterinarians for quick snippets of information. Often that isn’t enough to answer all of our questions.

Lessons From A Paralyzed Dog is set up to give pet owners the answers they are looking for plus give them support and resources to make life as stress-free as possible.

Sophie was a paraplegic for five years before she died in 2013. My family learned to live a new normal way of life. We played games with Sophie, went for walks using a cart and enjoyed our time together. Sure, we ran into challenges, but we also learned many life lessons from having a paralyzed dog.

Lessons From A Paralyzed Dog shares these lessons plus helpful tips like these:

  • How to stop urinary tract infection
  • How to express your incontinent pet
  • How to put on a doggie diaper or harness
  • How to lift a paralyzed dog
  • Which physical therapy exercises will keep your pet strong
  • Diet and nutritional facts for disabled pets
  • Where to buy supplies
  • The benefits of laser therapy, stem cell therapy and other veterinary treatments for disabled pets
  • The best clinical trials and studies being conducted at veterinary schools of medicine

Lessons From A Paralyzed Dog also encourages guardians to share their own story and the lessons they learned from their pet. Everyone who has been through this experience has a story to tell.

If your dog, cat or other pet has been diagnosed with a neurological or orthopedic condition that has left them paralyzed or partially immobile, we invite you to join our community.

Sharon Seltzer is an animal writer, co-founder of the Heaven Can Wait Animal Society in Las Vegas and CEO of Lessons From A Paralyzed Dog. She is also the pet parent to pup Cody and three semi-feral cats; Spike, Sport and Tiger. She was the proud mom to Sophie and Shadow who passed away in 2013.

Animal Advocacy Guest Blogger Thank You Janet Bovitz Sandefur

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