Sunday, November 30, 2008

1st week of December

Westy from Sewall House

Dear Gregg,

Since 2001, the first summer I brought him from his city living to Sewall House, Westy has served as solace and companion not only to us but to many of you. Guests have photographed Westy and sent pictures, he has jumped on their lap and kept them company by the fireplace and often could be found on the porch. Even when he went blind he still knew his way around our property and never wandered off, like he knew where home was. As he grew slower and older, he would still come down the stairs to greet us when we pulled in the driveway. The Monday before Thanksgiving Kent bravely had Westy put out of his suffering, always a difficult decision for any animal owner.

We miss you Westy, I will think of you, as you often did, coming to me when I meditated or sleeping with Kent as he napped. I had Westy almost 18 years and we went through alot together. Blessings, Westy our friend.
-Donna Davidge
Sewall House

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Great Cat Book!

Check out the Ultimate Cat Lover - the Best Experts' Advice for a Happy, Healthy Cat, with Stories and Photos of Fabulous Felines. Marty Becker ("America's Favorite Vet") and others have edited dozens out of the thousands of submitted stories from all over. If you care to, have a look on p.116 for my story about my dear cat Polly,written just after she died very suddenly.

There are also some terrific photos: this is a wonderful book to give for Christmas!

Friends in Need

We are asking that people send a message to President-elect Barack Obama urging him to consider animal protection a priority when appointing his new Secretary of Agriculture.

Past Secretaries have been too closely-aligned with industry, so now is the time to appoint a Secretary who is not beholden to major players in the agribusiness world.

This will just take a moment to do, folks, but it will make an enormous difference in the lives of those who cannot speak for themselves.
Thank you.

You can write a message by clicking here:
or call: 866-675-2008

(thanks to Chloe Jo and Mariana for bringing this to our attention!!)

Sandra up for adoption

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Resources and Friends

There've been so many Adopt-a-Turkey projects that I chose not to even begin covering them. Maybe next year at this time, I will be able to set it all up way in advance. Meantime here's some wonderful resources we haven't mentioned in this column up to now.

FARM SANCTUARY, which is one of the caring organisations that included the turkey-saving in its sensational roster of yearly events, offers its Winter Wonderland this coming Thursday, December 4. Organised to celebrate compassion for all beings and to give farm animals the gift of life, the event will be held from 6-10pm at the Art Directors Club, 108 W.29 St. New York.
For more information:

PET ROX will blow your mind. This popular eco-rock and roll band, is currently celebrating its tenth anniversary, performing at many fundraising events for animal charities, from the ASPCA birthday party in Union Square to seven consecutive annual appearances in Riverside Park at the American Cancer Society's Dogswalk, to Brooklyn's Prospect Park Zoo.

The next performance is Wednesday, December 3 at 9:30pm at "Don't Tell Mama",
343 W.46 St. on Manhattan's famous Restaurant Row. Doors open at 9pm, cover charge is $15 with a two drink minimum. Reservations are suggested: 212-757-0788.

The Pet-Rox line-up consists entirely of performers who also work in various capacities promoting issues relating to animal welfare. All their musical numbers relate to animals and my house-call vet, Jeffrey Levy, is behind it all.
For more information:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Meows & Meanderings

Many people are involved in animal welfare and well-being, not just those of us who rescue and adopt. From time to time, I'd like to mention some of the groups that are working so hard to help the cause. Today I shall introduce you to two out of the many.

The League of Humane Voters is a remarkable organization that has information for you on its web page and works so hard to inform NYC on vitally important animal issues, from the terrible fires in the pet stores to working with the NY City Council to rectify the glitches in our system. LOHV-NYC is devoted to electing humane lawmakers and lobbying for stronger animal welfare laws, such as demanding to know now, why a bill introduced 10 years ago with the support of more than a majority of council members, has yet to be scheduled for a hearing.

This bill, Intro 417, has been languishing due, according to many rumors, to the opposition from Speaker Christine Quinn. The bill would not only be a pet protection but a public safety bill, in that not only animals were killed, but fire-fighters have had to go to hospital, just putting out the pet store fires. The bill would ensure the installation of sprinklers in all pet stores and seems perfectly Humane to us. Look up the LOHV online to get the latest information on how you can help. If you visit LOHV-NYC or better, join them, Executive Director John Phillips will keep you in the loop; this way you can take action on this and other urgent issues; being pro-active, is, after all, the name of the game.


This organization has been around for a while, in different incarnations and I've been active in it for about 25 years. Elizabeth Forel runs a wonderful group which you can join by jumping right into the fray. She puts out an email information sheet, Horse Sense, which has weekly updates about issues and actions concerning the city's poor, ill-used and abused carriage horses.

Learn who's on our side on the Council (clue: he's running against Bloomberg for Mayor) and where to join us in our protests and activists events. Come to the programs and fund-raisers, contact your city council member, And volunteer: every weekend, weather permitting, they set up a table near the hack line to educate tourists and New Yorkers alike, about the inhumanities of the horse-drawn carriage industry. It's from Sat/Sun from 1-5pm.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Joys and Sorrows of being an Animal Activist

The joys and sorrows of being an animal activist, supporter and general compassionate Being, make for what in the "real" world could be construed as Mood Swings. The incredible emotional roller coaster of it all would leave us gasping for a free moment to breathe, but of course for rescuers, there is never that moment.

About 26 years ago, when I first returned to Hell's Kitchen, it was after a long absence. The neighborhood was rather run-down and, in its own way, quite likable. But one didn't walk around at night very casually, so when returning from Lincoln Center one dark, rainy night, I found myself suddenly thrust into the next chapter of my life.

In those days, you walked in a determined way, eyes straight ahead, no eye contact, the usual drill. And lo! a cat jumped right into my arms and said "Take me Home with You." I looked around, nobody there, so I continued walking, with her (I named her Polly) and at each corner, I'd say, "well, you can turn around and go home, just let me know." And Polly just stayed put.

Once home, I put her in a room separate from my guys (lovely mushes with us, vicious, vindictive and violent with strays) and we watched tv together, had our meals together and all was well. BUT, being the good citizen I am and the naive, totally ingenuous, debutante cat-rescuer I then was, I felt obliged to post up signs, tracing my steps from the night before.

Sure enough, I began getting calls, all pointing to a cat missing from a local shop run by a man we'll call Ari. Ari wanted his cat back, and although my heart told me that had he cared for Polly better, she wouldn't have escaped into my arms (and home), I let him come to see her and when she didn't mind going back to him, let him take her back. He didn't offer to reimburse me for anything I'd done for her, nor thank me for looking after her. He promised to have her spayed and not keep her locked in the dark back room where she'd been.

I foolishly gave her back to him and went in frequently to check on her. She was in the back room again, wasn't spayed, although I offered to pay for it and arrange for a nice vet to check her. After a few weeks of this futile effort, I went in one day only to be told that they'd given her to a fish & chips shop somewhere else because they were fed up with me pestering them.

Needless to say, I have felt guilty about this for these past 25 years and even named a future rescue cat: Polly, I have learned not to post up FOUND signs but to look for LOST CAT signs, to use the internet to help find owners, and not to return some animals to people who didn't look after them in the first place. I've learned a lot since that fateful experience, and I now rescue, place and agonize over scores of cats each year.

With the climate changes affecting "kitten and puppy season" and now, the economic reversals, leading to lost homes, jobs etc., the situation is obviously much much worse. So our job is increasingly difficult, which is why we have set up the non-profit rescue and information service,
All Sentient Beings, Inc. We hope to better inform the public on Pet Trusts, Healthful, Holistic Pet Care and more. As well as continuing our ongoing battle with the numbers of abandoned animals.

Where you can help, would be to send in your own stories on this blog, we're always interested in how you found (or lost) your animal, what you're doing about the many unwanted animals in your neck of the woods and how some of these innocent, sweet (sometimes) and helpless creatures have changed your life. Welcome to that Roller-Coaster of All Things Feline!

Post Script: the second Polly, who died in 2005, made it into the recently-published book, "The Ultimate Cat Lover," the Best experts' Advice for a Happy, Healthy Cat Marty Becker and others. My story is "The Cat from Hell's Kitchen."