Tag Archives: animal advocacy

Get inspired for this year’s Halloween festivities with our favorite dog costumes!

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. For my dogs, it’s probably their least favorite. Your dog might not mind wearing a costume all night long but if they’re like mine, a quick, one-time photo-shoot will have to suffice.

Here are some of my favorite (and hilarious) costumes. Hopefully these stir up your creative juices and you get some DIY ideas to make for your own dog. To me, the funnier the better!

Photos with links and other galleries found on our Pinterest page. Follow & share! Happy Halloween! xo

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Therapy dog Susie, abused as a puppy, named Hero Dog of 2014

Susie still wears the scars of her abuse

Susie still wears the scars of her abuse

The American Hero Dog of 2014 was announced Saturday night at the fourth annual American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, CA. The winner was determined by publicly cast votes and celebrity judges that included Naomi Judd, Lisa Vanderpump and Bailee Madison. Susie, a pit bull mix famous for her rough journey, and her owner Donna Lawrence, flew to Beverly Hills to be honored at the event.

The glitz and glamour of the event was a far contrast from Susie’s upbringing. Susie was only a puppy when her owner beat her, set her on fire and left her for dead in a local park in Greensboro, North Carolina. After being rescued by a local animal shelter and nursed back to health, she was adopted by Donna Lawrence. Ironically, Donna was afraid of dogs. In October 2008, she was attacked by a pit bull and nearly died. But that changed in August 2009, when she met Susie.

Their union led to Susie’s Hope, a nonprofit aimed at creating awareness for animal abuse. As of today, Lawrence has written several books on the topic, Susie has starred in a movie about herself and Susie’s Law has been passed, which allows harsher sentencing for those convicted of animal abuse.

The Hallmark Channel special about the Hero Dog Awards will air on October 30th. For more information on Susie’s journey and Susie’s Law, visit Susie’s Hope. If you’d like to make a donation to animal welfare, visit The American Humane Society.

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My interview with rescue-owner friends Robby & Cody, about life with dogs in LA & their newfound passion for animal rescue

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Cody & Robby with their rescued crew! Adopt shirts found on Etsy! 

 1. Can you tell me about each of your dogs & how you acquired them?

Alice, our white Havanese/Maltese/Chihuahua mix, was rescued in January of 2009. I rescued her before Cody and I were together. My friend had rescued a dog that soon gave birth to a litter. The litter was going to a shelter in Belmont, so I drove two hours to an unknown area and I took the runt. Originally she was meant for my younger sister but we had such a strong bond that she ended up being more mine than hers.  When Cody and I moved in together, she came with us. She has become the model city dog.  She behaves like a cat, lazily lounging around the house.

Fritz, our tan Wire Fox Terrier mix, was found on craigslist in February of 2013.  A woman in Fullerton was gifted him but her landlord wouldn’t allow her to keep him, so she was eager to find him a home before taking him to a shelter.  We were not 100% positive we were ready for another dog, but something told us we should see him. Upon meeting him we quickly realized he was in a very dangerous living situation and was actual taken away from his mother at far too soon; he couldn’t have been more than four weeks old. The owner would not answer any questions regarding the parents. To be honest, she was not acting normal and looked like she was under the influence. Our gut told us regardless of how this person ended up with the puppy, we had to get him out of that environment.  It was quite amusing watching one another bottle-feed a puppy the size of an apple, but we did it. Fritz still suffers from being taken so early from his mother and has developed classic separation anxiety behaviors. This is when we really began seeing the consequences of animal cruelty. However, Fritz has one of the most playful personalities we have seen in any dog. He’s still, and will always be, a puppy at heart.

Luna, our blue merle Australian Shepherd, was found on December 12th, 2013. This experience was a true eye opener for us and completely life changing.  I pulled over to take a phone call from Cody and upon doing so I noticed a dog with no collar emerging from the bushes covered in blood. My first thought was that she was hit by a car. I pulled a blanket from my car and slowly called to her.  She stared at me for a few minutes then walked my direction and collapsed at my feet. I took her to our vet and the physical assessment was gut wrenching.  She was severely dehydrated, sunburned, malnourished, infested with ticks, fleas, parasites, dog mange, fly strike, and a total of thirteen open wounds.  And on top of all that, she was lactating. They couldn’t get a viable stool sample from her because all she passed was Styrofoam.  The vet gave her 48 hours to live had I not found her and said her chances of survival would depend on how quickly we could find her a home, but it was unlikely that someone would want to take a dog in this critical of a condition. She would likely die in a shelter from infection of her wounds before anyone would take her. I thought that being a Hospice Nurse, I would care for her if these were to be her final days.  Wound treatment on her took me a few hours daily. I slept on the living room couch for nearly two weeks watching Luna slowly recover. Every night I saw a dog that was broken stare at the floor and corner of the walls, never attempting to make eye contact. She found refuge underneath our Christmas tree but would pant, cry, tremble, bark and pee in her sleep. I contemplated multiple scenarios in which I would ultimately find her a home. We couldn’t have another dog, right? After 9 months, she is 100% healthy, doubled in weight, and found a forever home with us.

2. How do you make life work having dogs in LA?

It definitely wasn’t easy at first, especially when you have three! We often felt in over our heads, but we are very fortunate to have made it work now. We live in a two bedroom townhouse, which fortunately has a big shady patio where we have built a large grass box. We rely on daily walks and weekly hikes.  We also look for dog-friendly establishments and frequent the dog park. Our weekends tend to revolve around taking them somewhere. Luckily we both have flexible schedules so they are never alone too long.  Robby’s parents also live close by and they have a huge yard with a rescue pup of their own. We call them our very own “Doggy Daycare”!

3. How has having pets changed your lives?

They remind you to breathe. When you walk into your home and are feeling overwhelmed with the outside world, they sense that and they just know how to make it better.  Where else can you go where you are always welcomed with excitement and love?  Everyday for us is paws and licks when we come home. They also help with our own anxiety and insecurities, not to mention keeping us active. We just can’t imagine not having them.

4. Now that you are pet-owners, have your attitudes or opinions changed on any particular subject matters or issues? If so, what are they and why? 

Absolutely.  We have a few. Obviously we are pro dog-rescue and we try to advocate it as much as possible. Then there is backyard-breeding and puppy mills. It is incredibly devastating to hear how many dogs are euthanized annually. You hear something outrageous, like 1 dog or cat is euthanize every 6.5 seconds.  That’s gotta strike a chord! It’s outrageous that people pay $800-$2000 and even more for a dog from a puppy mill when there are so many waiting to be adopted from a shelter. We have fostered two other strays and found them forever homes.  My subconscious is always scouting for strays. We visited a shelter once and the whole time we kept sending photos to everyone we knew that loved dogs. If we could we would take more, and hopefully one day we will!

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Alice, Fritz & Luna

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Pet Fitness & Obesity Prevention

Ok, I admit it… when my dogs give me “that look” I can’t help but offer up a treat. Even when they do something cute or sweet, my heart goes into melt-mode and all I want to do is spoil them! This week, Cocoa & Maddie had their annual vet check-up and sure enough, I was told both of them needed to lose a little weight.

Obesity amongst humans is obviously on the rise. Poor food choices and lack of exercise has lead to this growing epidemic in our culture. Did we forget about our pets? We’re doing the same thing to them! According to The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 54% of dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese. The medical and physical conditions associated with overweight or obese pets include:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Respiratory and heart disease
  • Osteoarthritis and joint problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney disease
  • Cancer, particularly intra-abdominal cancers
  • Shortened life span of up to 2½ years, according to APOP.
Stop pet obesity!

Stop pet obesity!

Seeing our pets every single day makes weight-gain so gradual that we become blind to it.  I was! I already saved my dogs by getting them out of shelters, so I want to continue saving them by keeping them fit, healthy and away from obesity!

A few tips to get your pet on the right path include:

  1. Regulate the amount of food you give your pet.
  2. Choose healthier treats like Lean Treats for Dogs.

    Lean Treats

    Lean Treats

  3. Get your pet active by going for walks, runs, or playing with a ball or frisbee. It’ll let them get out their energy too!

Be a responsible pet owner and remember that your pet relies on you for their health! Making these changes only mean a longer life for them and a longer time with your best friend!

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Cruelty-free Beauty and Cosmetics!

Until recently, buying beauty & cosmetic products was something I did fairly quickly and without much thought. I typically went for big-name brands or looked for hip/modern packaging. But now that I’m on a mission to support animal welfare in as may ways as possible, cruelty-free beauty products are the only ones for me!

Make a commitment to swap out your current products for cruelty-free ones, one-by-one. For example, if you run out of shaving gel, purchase a cruelty-free product to replace your former choice. This will make an impact not only on animals, but the environment and your health, as well!

All it takes is a simple label check!

All it takes is a simple label check!

Here are some tips that will help you find the right products:

1. Identify the parent company. Some brands that are owned by big companies don’t support common interests. Those large companies could still be funding animal testing in other brands.

2. Read labels. Most boxes, bottles and packages will tell you if the product has been tested on animals.  If you’re unsure you can look at the PETA Database of Animal Ingredients to help you decode some of the ingredients. You can also do a quick search with PETA’s cruelty-free company list. The easiest way to determine if the product is ok is by searching for one of these symbols:

Vegan and Cruelty-free

Vegan and cruelty-free symbols

 

3. Check to see if the products are sold in China. For cosmetic products to be sold there, cosmetic companies must test their products on animals. Most likely, then, products from China are indeed tested on our furry friends.

4. Know where to shop: You’ll be able to find cruelty-free personal care products at larger stores like Target, but you’ll find a better selection and have an easier time with labeling-detecting at natural stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.

Here are some of my favorite cruelty-free companies:

  • Abba
  • Bare Essentials
  • Boscia
  • Dermalogica
  • Dr. Hauschka Skin Care
  • Lush
  • Neutrogena
  • Smashbox
  • Tarte Cosmetics

    My favorite LUSH Bath Bombs

    My favorite LUSH Bath Bombs

Feel free to share and comment on some of your personal cruelty-favorites!

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My personal story with animal rescue

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Me + Cocoa

The day I rescued Cocoa

The start of my journey with animal advocacy began simply. It began with Cocoa.

A new college graduate from California, I decided to make a big-girl move and head to the East Coast. I landed a job at QVC and was dancing for the Philadelphia 76ers. My new grown-up life seemed pretty great, but something I had been struggling with that entire year (behind closed doors) was anxiety disorder. I was headed back to Los Angeles to visit my family for a much-needed visit, but the weather had a different plan for me: my flight was cancelled, and I left the Philly airport crying like a little baby. I was so sad that I wasn’t going to get to see my parents and siblings.

Instead of sulking that weekend, I decided to go to the animal shelter to walk and play with a few dogs. Although I’ve always had an affinity for animals, this was the first time I had stepped foot in a shelter. At that point, I didn’t know about the differences in shelters, and I certainly didn’t know about the issues associated with animal rescue or other animal-related subjects. As I walked into the cold cement room, all the dogs began barking and howling behind their cages. It was an overwhelming sound, and to see these poor animals without homes was more than a bit depressing. Just as I contemplated leaving, I saw her.

A 6-month old shepherd (ish) puppy was curled up in the corner, hiding from it all. She was staring at the ground and shaking. Even after I took her out to let her run in the play area, she still wouldn’t budge. This poor baby had not only been abandoned, she had been abused. I was 23 years old at the time and had no business acquiring and taking care of a dog. I reasoned that I couldn’t do it with my work schedule, and I especially couldn’t do it financially. But ya know what? I did.

I know God sent me to that shelter for a reason. I haven’t had a single panic attack since the day I rescued her. Cocoa has been with me for four years, and she has changed my life more than I have changed hers.  It is because of Cocoa that I am so passionate about animal rescue.

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Me + Cocoa

It is so important to educate ourselves and others about animal rescue. Over 7 million companion animals, like Cocoa, enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those 7 million, about 2.7 million of them are euthanized due to lack of funding and space. This breaks my heart. It’s because of this and because of Cocoa that I will forever be a voice for those animals.

 I hope you join in my journey!

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