Happy for Harpo!

Happy for Harpo!

I have GREAT news to share today. When my husband and I were at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary last month, we were able to host a sleepover guest, Harpo. Volunteers are welcome to have dogs, cats, and pot-bellied pigs sleep over as part of their sanctuary experience. Although the sanctuary is quite the idyllic setting, it’s still not the same as having a real home and loving family; the sleepovers are a wonderful way of allowing animals to give and get some one-on-one affection while they are waiting for their forever homes. Our Sleepover with Harpo We met Harpo the day we were volunteering at Dogtown. I was sitting on the ground in one of the smaller dog runs among a handful of adult dogs when Harpo came up to me quietly. He brushed his face against my cheek and I said to Seth, “I think we found our sleepover dog.” When it was time to take him to our cabin on the sanctuary premises, Harpo jumped into our car and settled in right away. At the cabin, in an instant  he was up on the bed, ready for a belly rub and some snuggle.  While Harpo took a short nap, we looked up his online adoption profile: Harpo is about eight years old and came from a no-kill shelter in Texas that closed. That night, we enjoyed patio dining in town and lots more snuggle time. As Harpo rested his head on my chest and let out a long sigh before falling asleep that night, I knew that, although we could not bring him home with us, I...
Just Back from The Genesis Awards!

Just Back from The Genesis Awards!

This past weekend, I was in Los Angeles to attend The 26th Genesis Awards held at The Beverly Hilton. Each year, The Humane Society of the United States hosts a star-studded event that recognizes the contributions by major news and entertainment media in raising public awareness about animal issues. Saturday night’s program was hosted by Carrie Ann Inaba of “Dancing with the Stars.” The evening began with cocktails before sitting down to a 3-course vegan meal, followed by the awards show. Celebrity presenters included Colbie Callat, Bill Maher, Rose McGowan, Cloris Leachman, Jason Ritter, and Moby. In the midst of all the mingling, I enjoyed a conversation with the Today show’s Jill Rappaport, who won for her series of reports on rescuers of homeless animals. However, the highlight of the evening for me was getting lots of face licks from presenter Uggie, star of the Academy Award winning film The Artist. All of the nominees deserve a standing ovation for their inspiring work. Here’s a list of some of the night’s winners, just to give you a glimpse: Feature Film Rise of the Planet of the Apes Feature Documentary Born to Be Wild 3D Dramatic Series Hawaii Five-0 Reality Series Animal Planet Investigates– “Captive Hunting Exposed” Children’s Programming Teennick News w/ Linda Ellerbee National News NBC Nightly News Talk Show The Ellen DeGeneres Show TV NewsMagazine 20/20 (ABC) On-Line Award The Atlantic.com Ian Somerhalder of “The Vampire Diaries” received the Wyler Award, which is awarded each year to a celebrity or public figure who has raised awareness of animal issues via the media. The Ian Somerhalder Foundation “aims to empower, educate,...
Tough Love Pit Bull Rescue

Tough Love Pit Bull Rescue

My involvement in animal advocacy has brought so many incredible people into my life, and Gemma Zanowski and Kris Carlson are two of them. Gemma founded Tough Love Pit Bull Rescue (formerly Revamped Rovers) as a small network of foster homes and advocates incorporated in the state of Washington. However, Gemma — a recent University of Arizona Law graduate — already had worked for several years on breed-specific rescues in Arizona. Kris, also a graduate of the law school, now serves as director and the regional liaison for Arizona operations. With the help of many others, they are really making a difference for so many dogs who just need a chance to show that they can be loving companion animals. The non-profit organization has two main goals: to rehabilitate, train, and permanently re-home pit bull type dogs with a high risk of death in shelters to educate about and advocate for pit bulls and other misunderstood breeds Tough Love pays all medical and major expenses for fostered animals; fostering guardians usually cover food, provide a crate, and also toys. Meeting Kirby I’m also elated that a third friend has become a part of the Tough Love team: Ashley Brown, who co-directed the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund chapter with me during our first year at the law school, is now fostering here in Tucson. Ashley has a soft spot for pit bulls, having worked with a rescue in Los Angeles before moving here. I introduced her to Tough Love’s Facebook page and Gemma… and it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship! Recently, I met a rescue on his...
Unleashed, NY: Young Girls Helping Puppies

Unleashed, NY: Young Girls Helping Puppies

As a former educator, I get super-excited whenever I hear about programs that are empowering children and teens. So Unleashed, an after-school program in NYC that pairs middle-school girls and puppies who need help finding their “furever” homes, is something I’m overjoyed to spread the word about! This 12-week program gets the students involved with all aspects of puppy rescue. In doing so, the girls are becoming aware of the need for animal advocacy at an early age, and they are  learning how to be effective advocates. In addition, they’re gaining confidence and upping their own self-esteem at an age when girls typically start becoming overcritical of themselves and look to society’s superficial values for self-validation. A young girl participating in this program will look into a puppy’s eyes and see the unconditional love and trust, and she will know she’s made a difference in that puppy’s life. What an amazing way to to help young girls realize they each have the capacity to contribute, and to encourage each of them to demonstrate compassion throughout their lives. The positive impact of a program like this, therefore, is both immediate and far-reaching. And, of course, there is the life-changing impact the program has on all the lucky pups that are rescued and adopted. The Unleashed program started by partnering with a few different New York schools, including The Nightingale-Bamford School in Manhattan. Having taught several years ago at another Upper East Side private school, I have to add that I’m especially pleased to find out about this program happening in the old neighborhood. Here’s a quick look at the program...
The Kindness Collective’s Win-Win

The Kindness Collective’s Win-Win

I’m super-excited to share a new non-profit organization with you, The Kindness Collective. The organization works at the intersection of human and animal welfare, seeking to improve the lives of all creatures through programs encouraging plant-based diets and other acts of compassion. I love this effort on a few different levels. First, I’m always enthusiastic about what I call “win-win” projects, where humans and nonhumans benefit. Second, the Collective’s first project involves fundraising for shelters helping domestic violence victims, so that their animals can find a safe haven with them as well. I’ve previously written about the need to include animals in domestic violence protection orders for their own sake and also because, when protection isn’t extended to a person’s animals, she often won’t leave an abusive situation. Third, this non-profit is the baby of a fabulous lady and friend, Amber McDonald. I met Amber when I was working in D.C. for Compassion Over Killing and we went down to City Hall to celebrate its commitment to Meatless Mondays. Good times! Last week, The Kindness Collective celebrated its launch at The Montserrat House, an art gallery and experimental performance space in D.C., with an acoustic concert and book signing by musician Moby. More than 100 attendees enjoyed vegan foods from Elizabeth’s Gone Raw, as well as drinks from Vegan Vine wines and Chocolate City Beer. Swag bags were provided by Relan, made from recycled billboards (I have one of their totes myself!); goodies inside included cruelty-free items from Herbivore Clothing Company, au naturale make-up line, and Cavi-Art vegan caviar. Although I couldn’t make the soiree in D.C., I was...
The Social Vegan: “Vegan Drinks” events

The Social Vegan: “Vegan Drinks” events

A simple idea that is SO great! Although Vegan Drinks just started a few years ago in New York, now there are similar events in at least twenty-four different cities. Over happy-hour drinks, happy vegans swap business cards as well as flyers and brochures about their own projects. Not only do these gathering give people a chance to connect with other like-minded people around town, but they also have become a way to raise money for various efforts: part of the bar proceeds usually are donated to a worthwhile cause. If there isn’t a Vegan Drinks happening where you live, why not be the toast of the town by hosting an event? You also can join Vegan Drinks on Facebook and follow on Twitter. Cities with a Vegan Drinks group include: Atlanta Austin Baltimore Boston Boulder Burlington, VT Cleveland Dallas Fort Lauderdale Las Vegas Los Angeles Nashville New Orleans Philadelphia Salt Lake City San Diego San Francisco Seattle Minneapolis-St. Paul Washington, D.C. New York  Cheers!...