Month: March 2015

Guest Blogger, Sarah Timms (

ShelterMe Producer, Steven Latham, talks animal welfare and crowdfunding with Sarah Timms, Founder and CEO of new nonprofit crowdfunding platform

Sarah: How did you get into producing films and documentaries?

Steven: I had a background in studio from the executive side from working at Paramount and Universal. In 2000 I quit my job at the studio to produce and direct my first film series, which I worked on with Barbara Streisand, called Living Century. The series told the stories of 100-year-old people who had lived through three centuries! It was so fascinating to work on. From then on, I decided to only work on projects that I think contribute to the national conversation on history, technology, animals, and other interesting topics.

Sarah: What’s it like to produce the ShelterMe series?

Steven: ShelterMe is my favorite of all the projects I’ve done. I felt like it HAD to be made. I saw a big deficiency in the way that shelters were being communicated about and perceived. The public wasn’t seeing the real story about how special shelter pets are. It’s been a privilege to travel the country and show how these animals add so much to our lives and why we need to inspire people to get involved with their local shelters.

Sarah: Tell us about your new episode of ShelterMe – New Beginnings.

Steven: New Beginnings is hosted by Allison Jenny and contains two stories. One story is about Wings of Rescue and their mission to fly 128 shelter dogs from over-crowded shelters to a community in Idaho where there was great demand for rescue pets. It is such an uplifting story! We filmed the flight in March, and since then we’ve flown over 1200 pets to safety in a number of different places in the Northwest. People can learn more about the program and support it though our crowdfunding campaign.

The other story is about a woman who travels around the country teaching shelters how to do playgroups. This simple idea becomes transformational. Her story is so inspirational, and gets dogs outside, playing, and adopted!

Sarah: How did you get involved with Wings of Rescue?

Steven: At ShelterMe, we focus on creating and using best practices. Literally anyone can duplicate our process, and they should! I talked to several groups and was most impressed with Wings of Rescue because they are organized, they’ve shown results and they are successful. They do transports responsibly and transparently. They do the paperwork and always know where animals are going and that the animals will always be well treated. Plus they don’t have any administration costs. They manage to fly a dog for just $88 – that’s $88 to fly a dog to safety and a new home. Every penny that is donated to our crowdfunding campaign pays to get a dog on a flight.

Sarah: Why did you decide to start crowdfunding for Wings of Rescue?

Steven: When we came across this story about saving lives through transport and learned that we could make a big impact, we wanted people to participate. We needed funds to rent the planes. This project was the perfect candidate for crowdfunding: because of the show people could see the transport process with total transparency – everything you see in the film is what you’re contributing to. Crowdfunding is a way for viewers to get involved and be part of it and see what they are funding. Furthermore, there is no overhead and no salaries – literally every penny goes to getting a dog on the plane.

Sarah: What did it feel like to film the first arrival of the dogs in Idaho?

Steven: Arriving was INCREDIBLE. Over 100 people were at airport waiting for the dogs. The anticipation! People were running onto the tarmac to meet the planes. You go from places where there are so many animals and not enough people to adopt them; animals become numbers despite the best efforts of staff and volunteers at over-crowded shelters. Then, we go somewhere where they NEED animals. They are loved and appreciated immediately! I shed a tear – well a lot of tears. I was with these animals from the time they were in kennels alone through to them being adopted and in a family. The spirit of ShelterMe is that you cry tears of hope! Change comes from inspiration, not desperation. We are trying to tell good stories AND empower communities locally.

Sarah: Is there one particular animal that has touched your heart since you started the ShelterMe series?

Steven: Champion the German Shepherd has a great story: he was found skinny, weak, and barely able to walk on the streets in Compton, CA. At five years old, he would get overlooked at the crowded shelter. We touched down in Idaho, and he was able to touch grass for first time. He is now living on a 688 acre ranch! He was so sweet and went through so much adversity. All the dogs are awesome and they’re all worth fighting for. They are worth bringing new ideas and opportunities to shelters to give them that chance at life.

Sarah: What is one action you would like people to take after watching New Beginnings?

Steven: I want people to participate with these transports! The story is so moving and now these animals have incredible lives! The only thing that is holding us back is money; we could literally save more lives with more money. Any amount will go to saving a shelter pets lives immediately! We currently run flights monthly and want to do more. On each flight we save over 100 animals, lets save thousands more. This is happening RIGHT NOW. See the story, get inspired and get involved to save lives.

ShelterMe New Beginnings is currently airing on PBS.

– Sarah Timms, Founder and CEO of new nonprofit crowdfunding platform
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Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur




Animal Advocacy Guest Blogger Thank You Janet Bovitz Sandefur

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Guest Blogger, Lisa Fimberg (

The Top 5 Reasons to Adopt an Older Dog

When you are looking to bring a new, adopted dog into your home, please think about our older dogs.

It is tempting to adopt a puppy because, well, how can you resist a puppy? But, if you stop to think about it, there are a lot of advantages in adopting an older dog. And, wouldn’t that make you feel even better that you gave an older dog a home?

Below are five reasons why senior dogs are easier to manage and should be adopted!

1. Older dogs are more predictable

Older dogs tend to be more predictable in their behavior patterns. You usually see what you get. While an adopted or older dog might be shy or timid, their behavior patterns are generally set and they tend to be more settled. With proper love and care, a shy dog can easily adapt into a warm and happy dog. Yet, with a puppy, they have has so much growing up to do that their behavior is less predictable in the short term.

2. Don’t you love your sleep?

With younger puppies, the likelihood of their sleeping through the night is slim to none. Their bladders are not fully developed and can usually last only four hours before they need to be let out of the house. However, with an older dog, the chances are pretty high that you can get a full night’s sleep.

3. Older dogs tend to be housetrained

When you adopt an older dog, there tends to be a lot less ‘clean up’ from the start. It is common knowledge that puppies go through the housebreaking process and will most likely leave their little marks all over the house. And, most puppies, are teething and like to play a little rougher so who knows what they will eat or chew.

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

With an older dog, they are usually house trained and less likely to rip up your furniture since they don’t have that abundant energy and have already been through that phase of their life. Don’t get me wrong; older dogs come with their own set of issues and/or old habits, but they are almost always housebroken.

4. Older dogs are easier to train

While some older dogs are a little set in their ways, most are easier to train. The older dogs are more relaxed and have a greater attention span. Therefore, they look and listen more readily. Think of taking an older dog on a walk opposed to a puppy. The puppy is all over the place and excited running back and forth whereas an older dog is less likely to run off and ignore you.

5. Older dogs are less likely to be adopted

The most important reason to adopt an older dog is that they are usually in the shelter longer. Most puppies are the first to go and the easiest to adopt. Therefore you are not only giving the dog a new home, but sparing him or her for life in a kennel or even worse. And, older dogs will so appreciate the benefits of a new, loving family whereas a puppy doesn’t yet know the difference. You and your older doggy will be the better for it!

There are so many reasons to adopt an older or senior dog, so please try to be open-minded when you are looking for a new dog for your home!

Lisa Fimberg is the owner of, a pet social network that is like Facebook for pets. She also writes weekly articles on pet care and pet advice. Lisa is a huge advocate of adopting pets.

PetPav on Twitter!  PetPav on Facebook!


Animal Advocacy Guest Blogger Thank You Janet Bovitz Sandefur

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Guest Blogger, Grace Yoxon (


Here I am sitting on the Isle of Skye where I work for the International Otter Survival Fund (IOSF), a charity whose aim is to protect and help the 13 species of otter worldwide. It is a very varied and worthwhile job and I am responsible for the care of orphaned and injured otters, education and general day to day running of the charity. But how did I get into this?

It is a long story which took me from south of London where I grew up and on to Keele University, near Stoke-on-Trent. I have always loved nature and wild places and one of our university field trips was to Skye – I was hooked and decided that I definitely wanted to live on the west coast of Scotland.

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

My husband and I moved here in 1980 and we watched our very first wild otter on a cold spring morning on 8th March 1985. We weren’t looking for otters but were fossil hunting on the shore at Glasnakille, near Elgol, on the Isle of Skye. It climbed out onto a rock right in front of us and from that moment we were captivated.

At this time we were running wildlife holidays and so people knew we were interested and they would bring us injured birds and animals. In 1988 we found ourselves caring for seals during the terrible phocine distemper virus outbreak. This was the real start of our involvement in wildlife rehabilitation and we became a registered charity. We also had our first otter casualty in 1988, but little did we know where this would lead.

Next orphaned cubs began to appear. Rearing cubs is a long process as they normally stay with their mothers for 12-15 months and have to be released at the same age. It is essential to keep human contact to a minimum so they are wild for release. We now receive cubs from all over Scotland and northern England and so far we have treated over 170 otters. We also provide help and advice for people all over the world. In fact we have helped with cubs from ten of the 13 species in 16 countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Chile, Belize and Bulgaria.

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur

In 1993 we decided to concentrate on otters and set up IOSF. What makes otters so special? Anyone who has been privileged to see them in the wild knows what a joy this is – the way they leap and dive in the water, how cute they look when they roll on their backs like a dog to groom their fur, and the sheer fun they have when they play on mud or ice slides into the water. But they are also a great ambassador to a healthy environment. Because the otter lives on land and in water and is at the peak of the food chain it means that both habitats must be in pristine condition, which is important for all species including our own.

IOSF is involved in a lot of work both locally and internationally – scientific research, practical conservation and education and public awareness. Otters are so often over-looked by governments and conservation organisations and attention is usually focussed on high profile species such as elephants and tigers. So we want to draw people’s attention to what is going on with otters in the world. As part of this we have the International Otter Awareness Day which this year will be on Wednesday 27 May, and anyone who wishes to take part can contact us at the email below.

There are 13 species of otter in the world, from the tiny Asian small-clawed otter, which is the one seen most often in zoos, to the giant otter of the Amazon – up to 1.8m in length! All of these species are listed on the IUCN Red List which means that they are all threatened. In fact populations of nine of the 13 species are declining worldwide. Of course it is nearly all related to man. Otters in Asia are in particular danger and so we have formed the Asian Otter Conservation Network to help people working in the region to share experience and seek help.

I would like to tell you more about otters in future blogs but in the meantime I would like to share some photos of just a few of the cubs we have cared for over the years. It is this hands-on contact which keeps us focussed on why otters are so important.

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For more information on IOSF, please go to or contact me at

Find IOSF on Facebook!  Find IOSF on Twitter!

– Grace Yoxon

All copyright IOSF

Animal Advocacy Guest Blogger Thank You Janet Bovitz Sandefur

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For the Love of #Eloise

It started with this:

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur


One small picture of a tired, worn, stray dog. Nameless.

I see hundreds of these kinds of pictures every day.  I receive them in my e-mail, they are posted in Animal Advocacy forums, they are part of Animal Petitions, they are shared by shelters and rescues.

Maybe it was the lowered ears, the way she looked into the camera, or the fact that even though she was in a miserable predicament with who-knows-what kind of hard life she had come from, she was wagging her tail. Wagging.

Maybe.  Or maybe it was ALL of that.

On this day, as a result of this picture, regarding this dog – she was going to live a beautiful life, because I was going to save her.

I had to look on the map to find out where Downey, California was.

Nevermind that I have never networked to save the life of a specific shelter dog before.

When you first go to rescue a dog, you think you have all the time in the world – at least that’s what I thought.  I was happy when the shelter gave her a name (Eloise), and even happier when others started sharing MY shares for her.  I felt this was going to be a piece of cake, and Eloise would be out of there before I knew it.

However, as the first few weeks buzzed by, Eloise wasn’t generating ANY interest at the shelter.  This was bad, because there are many shelters that are in-and-out, meaning, dogs are admitted, and within a very short amount of time, if no-one comes to pull or adopt them, they are euthanized.  And unfortunately, Eloise had landed in just this kind of shelter.

I started calling the shelter a few times a week, to find out if Eloise had found a forever family.  Each time, the answer was “no interest”.

This caused me great distress.  I ramped up my sharing, and along with that, found myself on the phone and computer, researching Southern California rescues, fosters, groups and veterinarians, trying to drum up some interest in Eloise.


Except, something. Out of my non-stop sharing and updates, more people began to take notice of Eloise. And that turned into a small group of very supportive and devoted individuals rallying together from different states to make a difference for this one lovely dog who nobody wanted.

By week three, the shelter took notice of this small group of people who took turns calling the shelter to check on Eloise.  Our persistence paid off, and Eloise’s first Due Out date came and went (the Due Out date is the date a dog in a shelter is scheduled to be euthanized). They postponed it because they were now aware that so many people on social media were sharing her.

Didn’t think it would be this difficult.  Didn’t ever think we would need to broaden our search for a good home to across the country.  But, if that’s what it took, then that’s what it took.

There is so much to know about pulling a dog from a high kill shelter and transporting him/her via a network of caring people who volunteer their time, money, vehicle/airplane and life to doing this.  Some transports charge, others put you on a waiting list.  And then, if the dog’s time is up at the shelter, where do you board the dog until transport can start? And, if you are transporting to another state, what are the certifications, vaccinations and other paperwork needed to either accept the dog into another state, and into another rescue? And I thought it was overwhelming before these new discussions began.

But now I was not alone. I had Team Eloise beside me, literally, morning into late night, EVERY day, helping further the goal to get Eloise out of that shelter no matter what.

There was always a plan. Plans can change on a dime, and ours were no different. We would have a Plan A, but then that would change to Plan B, and then that would change back to Plan A with an addendum. And then the addendum fell through.

And then it comes, the final days before the next Due Out date.  This time, the shelter was firm.  We had two days. Two.

And on that first day of what would be Eloise’s last two days, we had a very unexpected blessing.

Two of us on Team Eloise reached out to the same Animal Rescue in California.  And both of us received a reply.

It was decided that I would call the Rescue, and that’s when it became too easy.  Just like that, they would go get Eloise, and take her into their Rescue.

It was like, “sure, okay, we’ll take her”.

I had to ask them to tell me again because it was so effortless.

And just like that, Eloise was rescued.

The very next day, Eloise made her freedom ride to the start of her beautiful new life.

Just like that.

If you are one of the ones who are lucky enough to come across pictures of urgent animals in need, I assure you, there are not many feelings that top being able to do something to save or better that animal’s life.  Even if you have never done it before, I recommend making the effort to reach out to see what you can do to help.

I realize that not everyone can or will make the effort.  That’s a shame, because you will miss out on an extraordinary experience. It’s amazing to be part of something so wondrous as being able to save or better a life. And frankly, it’s our job TO reach out in compassion and help where and when we can.

Championing for Eloise was my pleasure and privilege.  It was not easy.  It brought an ever greater awareness of the plight of so many Eloise’s that never leave  the shelter, which made saving Eloise bittersweet.

But (BUT), a lovely life was saved. I learned a lot. I met some absolutely fantastic people that not only made a difference in Eloise’s life – they made a difference in mine.

I still think of Eloise as #Eloise, and it still feels strange not to be sending out social media reminders on behalf of her. I will take feeling strange over knowing that Eloise is in a good place now.

If you think you can’t do something, right there you probably can’t.  However, if you TRY, you will find out that you CAN, and that’s a pretty good feeling.

Tonight, as I post this, I realize that this would have been Eloise’s last night of life. I am grateful to have been able to save her life. I am grateful that I am the kind of person to always JUST DO SOMETHING. I think, if Eloise was able to speak like me, she would be grateful too.

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur



Pulling an animal from a shelter by a rescue group takes time and money, and many times, it’s volunteers to who do this. So much goes on behind the scenes that we never know about.  For Eloise, thank you to New Leash on Life Animal Rescue for offering to take her, at no cost to They would not even accept us paying the adoption fee.

If you are able to contribute to the campaign we set up for New Leash on Life Animal Rescue, please do.  If you can’t donate, you can share! EVERYONE can do that.
HERE IS OUR CAMPAIGN:  Campaign for New Leash on Life Animal Rescue

Thank you to everyone who took the time to share, and share, and re-share again for Eloise.  It helped make a difference.

Animal Advocacy Founder signature Janet Bovitz Sandefur





Animal Advocacy logo Janet Bovitz Sandefur

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Guest Blogger, Anti Animal Abuse-Known Abusers

Animal Advocacy Blog Picture Janet Bovitz Sandefur
Animal abusers come from all walks of life, from all professions, and all classes. Similar to those who engage in domestic violence, child molestation, sexual assault, robbery, etc., criminal acts know no boundaries. Crime knows no boundaries.

Regardless of age, nationality, race, gender, education, or profession, etc., anyone anywhere is capable of committing an act considered criminal. We cannot judge a group by what an individual connected to that group commits, it is the individual themselves who has acted and/or reacted and should be remanded accordingly.

Take heed to reprimand/condemn the individual, not the group in which an individual is associated.


If I make a blanket statement like “doctors are morons,” I feel that I only hurt my own credibility. I may be right in observing that many doctors don’t do a good job of helping people experience optimal health, but to make a broad, sweeping judgment of an entire group of people signals a social irresponsibility.

Disdain is disdain. Hate is hate. Intolerance is intolerance. No matter how justified disdain, hate, and intolerance may be, they don’t help anyone.

If we find one specific doctor (for an example) to be uncaring, incompetent, or greedy, then it is to our benefit to judge that doctor as being unworthy of his position, and to make appropriate decisions going forward. It is not to our benefit to judge all doctors as being similar to that one doctor.

There are good doctors, and there are bad doctors. Period.

And we can substitute “doctors” in the above line with any other group of people, like lawyers, politicians, teachers, contractors, clergy people, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Asians, Africans, Caucasians, Latinos, heterosexuals, homosexuals, etc.

Within every group of people, there are good people, and there are bad people. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that within every group of people, there is good behavior, and there is bad behavior.

I think you get my point by now: Assess the individual, not the group.

– Catherine

Main administrator for the Community Facebook Page called Anti Animal Abuse – Known Abusers.
It began with my petition to Create a Public National Registry of ALL Known Animal Abusers to help communities be aware of and be able to track animal abusers in their own areas — to initiate a national registry. I gather information and names/arrests/charges from various media sources and place that information on this Community Facebook Page to share with others.

Hopefully, people are sharing in their own communities to warn others. I also post who authorities are looking for, so others can be on the lookout in their own areas as well. To break up the monotony (with abuse stories), I also post acts of valor and interest (policy changes, vet news, etc.). The purpose really is to keep others aware and provide education on issues of animal abuse, as well as the correlation to human abuse, and to support the need for a public animal offender registry.
Animal Advocacy Guest Blogger Thank You Janet Bovitz Sandefur


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