Friday, October 31, 2014

Make A Difference For Animals on Election Day

Tuesday, November 4th is almost here!

Since you are reading this blog, I think it is safe to assume that you care very much about animals and believe they have the right to be treated humanely. You may have a rescue pet, donate to or do volunteer work for a shelter or rescue, or contribute to improving the welfare of animals in other ways. It all makes a difference. But on Election Day, if those of us who want to see the world become a more humane place for all animals educate ourselves on how the candidates stand on animal issues and vote against those who turn a blind eye to cruelty, we can make a BIGGER difference.

Like many people, you may be thinking, "But I don't know who to vote for." It's easy to feel that way since candidates' ads often tell half-truths... and sometimes outright lies. It's hard to know what is true! But if you are willing to spend a little time on the internet, you can find out who will be on your ballot, their stances on the issues, and access the voting records of the incumbents. I was just checking out my voting options on All you have to do is enter your zip code and street address.

There are a lot of us who love animals-- just look at the number of followers and likes on sites of rescue groups or animal welfare organizations! If each of us puts forth the effort to contact our representatives and let them know that as a constituent we want them to support animal-friendly legislation and that we vote accordingly, THERE WILL BE CHANGE. This is something we need to do throughout the year, especially when bills that affect animal welfare are being introduced.

So how will you use your vote? Will you take the time to learn who votes in favor of the humane treatment of animals, or will you be one of the many saying, "I didn't know who to vote for"?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

An Easy Way To Spread Awareness of Animal Welfare Issues

This morning while I was out for a walk I came upon a man and his dog walking in my direction. He smiled and said, "Mine is a rescue." At first I was confused,then I remembered that I was wearing my t-shirt that reads "Rescued is my favorite breed". We chatted for a few minutes about our dogs and their rescue stories then we said good-bye and went in separate directions. As I continued on my walk, I thought about how many people probably read that message without me even realizing it.

To improve the welfare of animals we must first create awareness of these issues-- for example, that buying puppies from pet stores or the internet keeps puppy mills in business, that dog fighting is not only wrong but is also a felony, and the importance of spaying and neutering our pets to control overpopulation. There are thousands of people who want to put an end to animal cruelty but feel helpless to make a difference in such a huge problem. I'd like to suggest that if you want to help animals, an easy thing you can do is get a t-shirt with an animal friendly slogan and wear it often. There are many websites where you can buy these shirts but two with a good variety are and I've met some wonderful people and had some great conversations that were all started by a message on a t-shirt. It is a pretty nice way to feel like I'm making a difference.

Los t-shirts en esta página son de, pero es posible que se venden en otros sitios.

English: The t-shirts on this page are from, but it is possible that they are sold on other sites also.

I was just on cafepress and they have a HUGE selection of t-shirts for dog lovers, and many are specific to animal rescue. I'll have to keep this idea in mind for Christmas presents. My kids tease me and say all my t-shirts are about dog rescue. :-)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Calling Your Legislators: This Makes A Difference!

Your voice and your vote are powerful-- use them to make your state more animal-friendly. If you are reading this blog, you probably at some time or another have felt helpless regarding the inhumane treatment of animals. I also feel that way at times. What helps me is to think of all the things that can be done, large or small, to chip away at the problem. It helps me even more thinking of all the changes that have been made due to the hard work of others who care enough about the welfare of animals to dedicate their time and energy to the cause. This has motivated me and made me realize that we CAN make a difference. There are lots of small things we can do. For example, If we have money, we can make a donation to an animal rescue organization. If we don't have extra money to contribute, we can volunteer at our local shelter as a dog walker. We can spread the word that adopting from shelters rather than buying from pet stores or the internet is what will put an end to #puppymills .

One thing I want to encourage everyone to do is call your legislator. Though you may ask yourself, "What difference will one phone call make?", I can assure you that it does make a difference. This is just one of many things I have learned through my friendship with #AnnieHornish, the Humane Society of the United States' Director for the State of Connecticut. From 2009 to 2011, Annie was the representative for District 62 in the Connecticut House of Representatives so she has sat in the chair of the elected official. She is the person that stressed to me how important it is to call your representative and tell them which issues are important to you. I was surprised when she said that a relatively small number of calls can swing their vote. Another thing I learned from Annie is that the more time and effort you put into this contact, the more seriously they take your opinion. When you think about it this makes sense. After all, anybody can send off a quick email to give their opinion but it takes more time and effort to call and ask to speak with the representative or even better, ask the representative to meet you for a ten minute conversation over coffee. Now THAT shows you really care about the issue. When I haven't been able to speak to the representative, I leave a message with his or her aid stressing my position. Part of my message is always that I care very much about the humane treatment of animals and that I always vote. Go online and see how your representatives have voted in the past on bills that concern animal welfare so you know who to support. While you are there, check out their voting record on other issues that are important to you as well. One of my representatives has a voting record that shows she is definitely not a friend to animals. I spoke personally with her as part of a small group of animal advocates and like most politicians, she was polite and listened to what we had to say. However, when we left her office it was clear that she didn't plan on changing her position on animal issues. In our district there is pressure from hunters so in order to change her vote she would need to hear from more constituents who advocate for animals. You can bet I spread the word about this to my friends who are opposed to animal cruelty and I would go to the polls on November 4th if for no other reason than to cast my vote against her. I encourage you to call your representatives (get their contact information online) and let them know what you care about. Our votes keep them in office or boot them out so make your opinion known and make a difference. I hope you will use your vote to help create a kinder world for our animal friends.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

We Can All Do Something To Help Animals

""Always hold firmly to the thought that each one of us can do something to bring some portion of misery to an end." Author unknown.

(Let me know if you know the author of this quote so I can give them credit)

"A man is truly ethical only when..."

I love meaningful quotes and will often include them in this blog. Please share your favorites with us as well!

"A man is truly ethical only when he obeys the compulsion to help all life which he is able to assist, and shrinks from injuring anything that lives." --Albert Schweitzer, Alsatian Theologian, Musician, and Medical Missionary

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What You Can Do

There are a lot of things kids can do to help animals so I wanted to write this portion of my blog just for you. Before you go on any website though, you should ask your parents and even show them the site. NEVER give information about yourself to someone online (for example, your name, age, where you live, or where you go to school). Don't trust somebody just because they say nice things to you online. You probably think your parents worry too much about these things but they are smarter than you think! :-)

Let me tell you a bit about myself. Until recently I was a high school Spanish teacher. I loved teaching Spanish but one of my favorite things to do was (and is!) to lead students on trips abroad. I have taken students to Greece and Italy for sightseeing and to learn about these cultures. I have taken students to Costa Rica to help rescue Olive Ridley turtles. And for the past two summers I have taken students to Puerto Rico to volunteer at a dog rescue called Save a Sato. "Sato" is what Puerto Ricans call a street dog.

I became interested in Save a Sato twelve years ago when my cocker spaniel, Phoebe, was rescued by them from the streets when she was just a puppy. They saved her life and they have saved the lives of thousands of other dogs. I now work as a volunteer for them from my home in Connecticut and I hope to continue going back every year to volunteer at the shelter. Several of my students have said that they want to go again this summer.

I didn't do much volunteer work in my life before this but working at Save a Sato got me hooked! I love animals so I guess the secret is to volunteer doing something you love and then it doesn't even feel like work. I also learned another secret: If you are feeling sad, doing something to help someone else or make them feel better actually will make YOU feel better too. It really works!

What I want to do in the kids portion of my blog is to help you realize what a big difference YOU can make in the lives of animals. One thing I like to tell all kids is that if your family is going to get a dog, please don't buy one from a pet store. Pet store puppies are often not as healthy because of the neglectful environment in which most spend their first six or eight weeks of life. Do pet store puppies look healthy? Yes. Will the employees there tell you that they don't get their puppies from these places? Yes. There are some that will be telling the truth about that but most won't be because then nobody would buy their puppies. So if you see a cute puppy in a pet store and want to rescue it, remember that there are many, many dogs living in shelters who also need to be rescued and surprisingly, they are often healthier. By getting your dog from a shelter or a "breed specific rescue" (see below), you are telling people in the commercial dog breeding industry (another name for puppy mills) that you won't support this industry.

I hope you will continue to visit my blog so I can keep sharing with you things that you can do to Take Action For Animals!

(A "breed specific rescue" is a rescue group that focuses on only one breed of dog. If your family decides it wants a lab, a golden retriever, or just about any kind of dog, chances are there is a group that can help you find a good one. You can ask your parents to Google "lab rescue groups" or whatever the breed you are looking for).

This is Sofía, one of the five puppies my students and I brought back from Puerto Rico in June to be adopted. All five puppies were adopted into loving homes very quickly.

My passion: The satos (street dogs) of Puerto Rico

A passion of mine is working to help street dogs ("satos") in Puerto Rico. I understand that there are problems with large populations of street dogs in many parts of the world but I have a personal connection to Puerto Rico: my twelve year-old cocker spaniel was thrown out into the streets when she was less than nine months old . This is very common in Puerto Rico. I love the people and the culture of Puerto Rico but I don't like the way pets seem to be viewed there as disposable. Another part of the problem is that the majority of pet owners don't spay or neuter them. There are many low cost spay/neuter programs offered but there exists an attitude among many people that it is terrible to take away a male dog's "maleness". I never have been able to wrap my head around this because the alternative is what they have now: a huge population of homeless dogs who suffer and die in the streets. There is even a beach commonly referred to as Dead Dog Beach (Google it if you want to learn more but make sure you have a box of tissues at hand). There are also Puerto Ricans who love animals and are disgusted and angered by the everyday suffering they witness. Some have started shelters and dedicate their lives to rescuing and re-homing dogs and cats. A big problem they face is that most shelter pets on the island will never be adopted. Fortunately some shelters in the states will take dogs from them when they have room and they typically get adopted quickly. Those of us who work with satos think they are just about the best dogs in the world. It is incredible how after the neglect and abuse they have suffered they can be so forgiving and loving. They seem to know they have been rescued and as a result are very loyal. I have so much more to add to this topic but my post is getting very long so I'll save it for another time. I will share more later but if you are curious and would like to check the rescue I work with, go to #satos #puertorico #animalrescue

Monday, October 13, 2014

What Is A Puppy Mill?

A puppy mill is a large-scale dog breeding facility in which the focus is completely based on profit with little regard given to the dogs' health and well being. Breeding dogs are kept confined in very small cages for their entire lives, oftentimes in filthy conditions and with little or no veterinary care. Female dogs are bred continuously until they are worn out, often at a young age, at which time they may be destroyed since they are no longer profitable. Puppies sold in pet stores that buy from these facilities may appear healthy but are often sickly and may be genetically inferior. Incredibly, the inhumane conditions in these facilities can be within the scope of the law.

Spreading the word

It is taking me a long time to figure out how to set this blog up but it is one thing that I can do to take action for animals. There are so many things we can do to create change. One of the simplest things we can do is speak out on animal welfare issues. Spread the word that when you buy a puppy in a #petstore, it supports the commercial dog breeding industry (a.k.a. puppy mills). The many dogs kept for breeding often spend their entire lives confined to small, filthy cages with very little human contact or veterinary care. The focus of puppy mills is on maximizing profits and if for no other reason than the sheer number of dogs kept there, little attention is given to the animals. There are responsible breeders from whom you can get a high quality, healthy puppy of a specific breed if that is what you have your heart set on. Like buying from a pet store it will not be cheap, but the puppy will almost certainly be healthier and better socialized. Another alternative is adopting from a breed specific rescue. Like adopting from a shelter or rescue, this helps with the homeless pet problem rather than adding to it. #commercialdogbreedingindustry #puppymills

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome, everyone! I am in the process of setting up this blog to bring together a community of people who believe animals have the basic right to be treated humanely. It will serve two main purposes. The first is to provide educational information about a wide variety of animal welfare issues. The second is to offer suggestions for concrete actions-- large and small-- that you can take if you really want to create change. Not everyone is in the position of making financial contributions but everyone can do something. On social media sites that I visit I hear so much desperation and anger about the mistreatment of animals in the world. The comments lead me to believe that many people have the passion but don't know what they can do to make a difference. This blog is designed to empower you to do just that. I am involved in animal advocacy and animal rescue so much of the focus of this blog will be on HAPPY stories that are the result of good people taking action. I hope you will be a regular visitor to this blog, share your thoughts, and take action for animals!