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My Husband’s Film for Farm Sanctuary
Jan02

My Husband’s Film for Farm Sanctuary

Happy New Year! Perhaps you’ve already seen Farm Sanctuary’s new short film “What Came Before” starring actor/comedian Steve O. It just so happens that this film was produced and edited by my husband Seth. We’re so excited that people are watching and responding so positively. The stories of Nikki the pig, Symphony the chicken, and Fanny the cow are happy endings that can give us all hope as we move into 2013 and look towards another year of victories on behalf of animals everywhere. If you haven’t seen this film yet, I urge you to watch and share (note: some footage from undercover investigations that is difficult to watch). You also can catch Steve O on the Jane Velez-Mitchell show this Friday, January 4th, talking about the film. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNxcylWLEH8&w=600]   Thank you to Farm Sanctuary, and to all the individuals and other organizations that contributed to the film and are helping animals every...

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Volunteering at Best Friends Sanctuary
Nov09

Volunteering at Best Friends Sanctuary

I was fortunate enough in September to spend some time volunteering at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah.  The sanctuary serves as the headquarters for the 30 year-old organization Best Friends Animal Society, which launched the no-kill movement and facilitates adoptions and spay/neuter programs nationwide. In addition, BF works on initiatives related to puppy mills, pit bull/breed discrimination, and TNR for feral cat colonies. Nestled in Angel Canyon, the sanctuary is a slice of heaven where, at any given time, about 1700 animals are being cared for by the Best Friends staff. Although most of these animals are dogs and cats that are waiting for their forever homes, the sanctuary also takes in barnyard animals (horses, goats), pigs, bunnies, parrots and exotic birds, and wild life. Some of the animals have special needs, some have come from situations of abandonment or neglect. With the exception of the animals in the Wildlife department, all the animals are adoptable. The miracle here is that there is no clock ticking against them: the sanctuary, then, functions as the largest no-kill shelter in the country; in this idyllic setting, the animals are ensured whatever they need — physical, emotional, and psychological needs — for as long as it takes to find them a family. To spend time in such a gorgeous place with these animals, and the very special people who spend their days caring for them, was extraordinary. The sanctuary is a scenic four-hour drive from the Las Vegas airport. Kanab is a great little town in its own right: this “Little Hollywood” was the location for more than 100 western films. The main street, lined with quaint shops and cafes, showcases a “western” walk of fame that features familiar faces such as Ava Gardner and Gregory Peck; and there’s a museum that houses pieces of old western movie sets. Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, and the Coral Pink Sand Dunes are all just short drives away — we wrapped it all together into one great Utah trip. While the 90-minute tour of the sanctuary is alone worth a trip — some 3 million people visit each year — it was even better to spend a few days there and volunteer. There are plenty of places to stay in Kanab, about 10 minutes from the sanctuary; but if you book well in advance, you can have the added pleasure of staying right on the sanctuary’s premises, as we did, at one of its cabins or cottages. And here’s a tip: whether you are staying on site or in town, lunch at the cafeteria in Angel Village is an absolute must — both...

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Happy for Harpo!
Oct25

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 would feel connected to this spirit for the rest of my life. I prayed his forever family would find him soon. Harpo Comes to Arizona This past Saturday morning while I was in Portland attending the annual Animal Law Conference, we got a call at our home in Tucson from Best Friends to let us know that Harpo was in Phoenix for an adoption event. I quickly spread the word to all my Arizona friends — let’s help Harpo find a home! I was hoping all day long that Harpo’s family would find him. We checked on Saturday night… Harpo hadn’t been adopted that day and was still with his BF caregiver, Marti. BUT on Tuesday night, once I was back in Tucson, I went to check his adoption profile on the Best Friends web site.  Harpo was not among the many dogs listed for adoption. I sent a couple of emails asking for an update and — yay! — Harpo has been adopted! I was thrilled to receive the...

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Student Animal Legal Defense Fund at University of Arizona Law
Apr12

Student Animal Legal Defense Fund at University of Arizona Law

In the summer of 2009, just before starting at the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona, I contacted the Animal Legal Defense Fund to find out how I might get involved and help generate interest on campus. The ALDF staff connected me with a third-year law student and, together, we took the necessary first steps towards organizing a student chapter. By my 3L year, we had successfully petitioned and worked with the faculty to have an Animal Law class offered in the fall semester. We’ve come a long way! Over the past three years, I have been so inspired by my classmates, watching them get excited and more involved in animal-related efforts ranging from those focused on farmed animals to companion animals. In addition to successfully petitioning for the Animal Law class, here are some of the highlights from my time on campus: Guest speakers such as Mike Duffey (Animal Cruelty Task Force of Southern Arizona); Cheryl Leahy (Compassion Over Killing); Tucson attorney Nikia Gray, discussing her efforts on behalf of elephants at Reid Park Zoo; Phil Brown (Animals & Home Owners’ Associations); and John R. Becker (Pet Estate Planning) Visits to Ironwood Pig Sanctuary & Equine Voices Rescue & Sanctuary Pet toy drives for Hope Animal Shelter, Tucson’s only no-kill shelter Presentations by students about their own animal-related papers/notes Film screenings: Got the facts on Milk? and Mine) Tabling in the main lobby with Animal Law materials (and free vegan cupcakes!) Happy hours & potlucks with members of the State Bar of Arizona’s Animal Law Section Sending two students this year to the National Animal Law Competition Students attending the annual Animal Law Conference at Lewis & Clark K-9 unit demonstration of explosive detection by University of Arizona’s Police Department Cereal buffets with nondairy alternatives (great fundraisers!) Today is the last meeting of the school year. I’m just a few papers and an exam away from graduation day; and today the 3L students will officially pass the torch to those students who will continue to make the SALDF chapter and Animal Law issues a part of the law school community. A special thank you to those who have served on the board of our student chapter, taking leadership positions to get the chapter going and growing. From Day One, the student chapter has been a team effort. And, as the 3Ls leave school to follow our individual paths, I am most grateful to know that my SALDF friends and I will always have this connection with each other. Finally, thank you to our faculty sponsor, Shaun Esposito, and all the faculty who have been so supportive of...

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Just Back from The Genesis Awards!
Mar26

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, and collaborate with people and projects to positively impact the planet and its creatures. ” Ian actively tweets and blogs about all kinds of animal issues, and even went before Congress to support the Multinational Species Conservation Funds Reauthorization Act of 2011. Awesome! The Genesis Awards will air on Animal Planet, May 5th at 4:00pm (EST), with an encore broadcast on May 6th… watch for me in the audience! Silent Auction In addition to the dinner and awards, the night includes a silent auction and a rockin’ after party. Among the items to bid on were some of my favorite cruelty-free products, such as a coat by Vaute Coat and a faux-fur vest by Impostor. I walked away with a gift bag by one of my NYC faves — Candle 79: a gift certificate to the restaurant, plus a few tee-shirts and the new Candle 79 cookbook. A peek inside the program… Extra special for me about this event: as purchasers of “Gazelle” tickets, we were listed in the program among the...

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Tough Love Pit Bull Rescue
Dec09

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 first day in Ashley’s home. Kirby was found as a stray, severely undernourished. When I met him, he was all cozy on a blanket, ready for dinner — my heart melted instantly. He’s still on the road to recovery but getting the care he needs until he’s ready for a forever home, thanks to Tough Love. Tough Love Pitbull Rescue on Facebook The organization facilitates rescues and fostering through Facebook: its page is filled with pictures of rescues that will warm (and sometimes break) your heart. Please help spread the word by “liking” this page and sharing with your friends. And you may consider getting more active in this network, if your circumstances are right for fostering. Tough Love currently has volunteers in Arizona, Oregon, California, and Washington. Lots of happy endings (or as I like to say, beginnings) waiting to...

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