Daily Walrus - Helping People Help Animals

Go Green

January 30, 2008
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Thanks in part to An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore, Americans are ready to go green.  Americans are using fluorescent light bulbs, recycling more, buying organic produce, and using reusable grocery bags.  There is a large and expanding network of people who care about the environment.  Unfortunately, a lot of environmentalists have not yet grasped the impact that eating meat makes on the environment.

Check out this article, Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler, by Mark Bittman from January 27th’s New York Times.  It explains the negative consequences of meat eating on the environment.  Vegetarians have often cited the fact that two to five times the amount of grain is necessary to feed livestock to produce the same number of calories in meat as in direct grain consumption (something to consider when millions of people are hungry).  Bittman also brings to light other positives of a vegetarian diet, including the fact that if Americans cut their meat consumption by just 20%, it would be like everyone trading their cars for a fuel-efficient Prius.  An even more astounding fact is that 30% of the world’s non-ice land is utilized in some way for livestock production.

The connection between modern methods of meat production and environmental destruction is simply too large to ignore.  Can you be a meat-eating environmentalist?  We aren’t convinced you can.  Read the article, consider the information, and make the switch – for you, the environment, and the animals. 

Also, please pass it on to your friends and family.  Even those who may be resistant to vegetarianism/veganism can find inspiration in the author’s call for any reduction in meat consumption.   

[And if you want to go super in-depth into the topic, look at the PDF file of the UN report, Livestock’s Long Shadow, referenced in the NYT article.]

*Special thanks to Nicole for posting the article on her blog.  Check it out for more information about veganism and environmentalism mixed in with her daily adjustments to life in Japan.*


Don’t Keep the Change

January 29, 2008
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Ryan and I once had a change collecting contest.  We wanted to see if we could find, on average, one penny per day ($3.65 for the year).  We would often be found walking with our heads down watching the ground (which is not a bad idea anyway if you want to avoid stepping in dog poop).  I found a $20 bill early into our year, making my victory very easy.  I guess I should mention, though, that Ryan says it wasn’t a competition (something the loser of a contest would say).  But in the end we did both find well over the $3.65 – I just did it sooner.

While I do like sharing stories about the (not so) wild-and-crazy things we do in our spare time, this does connect back to helping animals.  All of this change is free money and it doesn’t impact the finder to pass it along to their favorite animal shelter or animal rights organization.  We were given an actual piggy bank (we named her Penelope) from the Humane Society as a thank you for an earlier donation.  We put in all of our extra change including what we find around the city and what we have in our pockets.  When Penelope fills up we trade her contents in for bills and cut a check to the Humane Society.  You will be amazed with how your change adds up.  Even if it doesn’t, every little bit helps so still make that donation! 

We would like to challenge you to a change collecting contest.  Put aside all the change and bills you find and include all of your extra change each night.  Send us a picture of you counting the change (preferably with your pet) and tell us the total, as well as the organization you are donating to.  Winners each month will get their picture posted on the blog!  Let the games begin…

Spread your message when you aren’t home

January 28, 2008
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Getting people to listen to you talk about animal activism can be a challenge.  That’s why it’s always important to take advantage of any captive audiences you have (no matter how small).  Every time someone calls you and gets your answering machine, you have an audience-of-one while they wait for the beep.  After you yammer on about names and numbers, remind them to buy cruelty-free products, donate to their local animal shelters,  or spay or neuter their pet.  It only takes a few seconds, and it might be the spark someone needs to take action.   

Offer a Ride

January 27, 2008
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We live in a city where public transportation is the primary method of getting from point A to point B.  The subway and bus system here is fantastic, and it’s not uncommon to see people toting their smaller, furry friends in carriers on their way to the vet’s office. 

Since we have a car (Ryan has to drive to NJ a couple days each week for work), we always make it known to friends that, if needed, we can give them a lift to the vet.  This is especially helpful to those with larger dogs that can’t travel on the trains or buses.  Also, while there are plenty of vets in NYC, some are more difficult to access by train or bus without making numerous transfers.   Some pets also get super-stressed thanks to the noise on the subways, so a safely secured ride in the car makes the trip easier on them. 

If you know of friends or relatives (especially elderly or over-worked individuals) who may need a hand getting to the vet, let them know that you’re there.  We always offer a ride on the weekends or whenever we’re free so that nothing keeps their pets from their vet appointments.          


Speak up for shelter animals!

January 26, 2008
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Today we were at a neighborhood pet “boutique” buying dog and cat food for the boys.  They had a bulletin board for people to post fliers and ads for things like cat-sitting and dog-walking services.  Jenny noticed a flier advertising pit bull puppies for $250 bucks alongside fliers for numerous dogs in shelters. 

I was very happy to hear Jenny say to the shop owner, “You know it really stinks that so many pit bulls will be euthanized in shelters because people choose to buy them from backyard breeders like the ones on your board.  I wish you didn’t allow ads for breeders when there are so many homeless dogs.”  The owner was a little surprised and said “You know, I’ve never thought about it that way.” 

We made our purchases and left, happy that we had made her think about the affects breeders have on shelter populations.  The next time we need food or treats, we will be sure to stop in to make sure there aren’t any fliers for breeders on the board.  If there are, we will let her know what we think, and that we will be shopping at a different neighborhood pet-food store. 

Don’t be afraid to let your favorite shops know that you expect better from them if they want to keep your business.  Free community bulletin boards should be used for animals in need, not backyard breeders who make hundreds of dollars per puppy while denying a shelter dog a chance at life. 

Shop ‘Til You Drop!

January 25, 2008
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Okay, you have been goodsearching (yes, I made that a verb) for many days now.  You have probably already noticed that there is also GoodShop.  In case you have been too enthralled with just searching, I am here to point it out to you.  First a reminder, GoodSearch.com is a search engine powered by Yahoo! that donates its ad revenues to the charity of your choice when you click on the sponsored links.  For more details on how it works and the good that it does, reread our post all about it.

Goodshop is very similar, you can get to it by either clicking the tab on the goodsearch homepage, or by following this link.  The first thing you need to remember to do is type in the name of the charity you want the proceeds to go to.  Next you will scroll down and notice the lengthy list of stores that you can shop from.  These stores are conveniently categorized for you, so that you can easily see which pet supplies stores or electronic stores contribute money.  You do not have to pay extra!!!  Instead, a percentage of your purchase is donated to the charity you choose.  These percentages vary depending on the store from less than one percent all the up to over 25 percent at ebay and match.com.

When you are searching for Valentine’s Day jewelry, Presidents’ Day gifts, or a birthday present for your pet, head over to GoodShop and make you purchase count to more than just you and your loved one.

Here’s the Walrus looking at flowers for Valentine’s Day through GoodShop, 1800Flowers donates 7% to the charity he chooses!  He will probably pick the ASPCA since they took care of him before we adopted him.  But, it looks like he is having trouble deciding which bouquet to get his sweetheart!

Wally GoodShopping

Car insurance for your pets?

January 24, 2008
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I saw a commercial today for Progressive Auto Insurance that advertised a pet-friendly feature of its Collision policy.  If your pet is injured in an accident while riding in your car, Progressive will cover vet bills up to $500.  The policy also entitles customers to a discount on pet health insurance. 

It sounds interesting, but always be sure to read the fine print if you are interested.  If you take your pets on the road as much as we do, this might be a policy worth checking out.  Unfortunately, this offer isn’t available in NC, NH, and NY.  To find out more, click here.       

One more thing – The picture on Progressive’s page features a dog riding shotgun with its head sticking out of the window.  If that car were to be in an accident, I’m not sure insurance or a vet could do much to help.  That’s why earlier this month we wrote about the importance of securing your pet while traveling.  The insurance policy is nice safety net to have, but there are plenty of simple things you can do to make sure your pet is safe while being chauffeured around town.   

Donate cleaning supplies to your local shelter

January 23, 2008
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We’ve been really impressed by the number of hits the posts on compassionate shopping have gotten.  When a person decides to go the animal-friendly (or “green”) route, one question always comes up quickly: “What do I do with all this old stuff?” 

Some people use up the remainder of their old products and then replace with new, cruelty-free items.  Others want to get rid of the old, inhumane items quickly with a clean sweep.  If you choose the latter, why not donate your old cleaning supplies to an animal shelter?  Shelters and Rescue sites are always in need of items like bleach and other cleaners to keep germs and bacteria in check. 

Give your local shelter a call and ask them what products they use regularly and see if they will accept your unused portions.  The products may have been made without consideration for the animals used in testing, but at least they can do some good for those waiting anxiously to be adopted.   

Brrrr…Melt that ice!

January 22, 2008

For some reason we have not had snow in NYC yet, but it sounds like the rest of the country has.  With snow (and very often without) comes ice, which then involves salt.  Salt is put on sidewalks and roads to melt the ice, both by homeowners and the Department of Sanitation.  There are some safety tips to keep in mind both as an animal parent and as a homeowner.

First, the ice used by the Department of Sanitation (at least here in NY) and most homeowners is poisonous.  While it is unlikely that most pets will lick your shoes, we don’t like to take that risk.  I am not suggesting that you have to scrub your snow boots, but wipe your feet before coming inside and if you see that your pet is interested in the bottom of your shoes then put the shoes out of reach.  There is an extra risk factor for dogs, as they go outdoors numerous times a day for walks.  You might notice that your dog limps a little from the ice salt or that her/his paws seem irritated.  You can try putting booties on your pup if they seem extremely bothered by it.  If you aren’t into that at least wipe off the dog’s paws when you come inside.  Since it irritates their paws they are also more inclined to lick it off – this is the most common way poisonous ice is ingested.  There are lotions made for your dog’s pads specifically for this purpose, unfortunately they contain lanolin (an animal by-product).  Instead, you can use baby wipes or just soap and water.  Your dog will thank you for it!

If you are a cat person or still waiting for the perfect dog, there are still things you can do to help out in the winter.  If you are the one who puts the salt down, try a pet friendly kind like Safe Paws – it’s the best commercial de-icer for both animals and the environment.  You can also try plain old sand or gravel – these are the safest for both our four legged friends and planet Earth.  You are not only protecting your neighbor’s pets, but also any stray animals.  If you are a renter and have a good report with your super, ask her/him to use pet friendly de-icers too!

 Stay warm!  Here is a picture of Wally with his winter hat on.


Ask Your Favorite Restaurant to Use Cruelty-Free Cleaning Supplies

January 21, 2008
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Recently Jenny and I were eating at a new vegan restaurant in Brooklyn.  When I went to use the restroom, I noticed that they had cleaning products made by Proctor and Gamble, as well as hand soaps that were tested on animals.  We both found it surprising that a restaurant that catered to vegans would use these products to clean up after us.  

We paid our bill and tip, and returned home.  Jenny sent an e-mail to the contact address listed on their website telling them how much we enjoyed their food and service, but that we found their choice of cleaning products a bit out of step.  She asked them to consider cruelty-free products, like those listed in this guide.  They quickly replied to say that they had not even considered the impact of the cleaning products they used but that they would make the change.  We stopped in for dinner a couple of weeks later and were pleased to find animal-friendly cleaning products in their restrooms. 

 It’s that easy, folks.  The next time you see Clorox, Ivory Soap, Scrubbing Bubbles, Arm & Hammer, or any other cleaners that you suspect may be tested on animals, send an e-mail, make a call, or speak directly to the manager and ask that they reconsider their choice of cleaning products.  If they haven’t made the switch by the next time you visit, wite or call back and let them know that they have lost your business. 

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About author

Hello - we are Jenny and Ryan, a couple living in Brooklyn, New York. We are both busy with school and work but try to take time to do something every day to make the world a better place for animals. Occasionally we may link to outside websites for additional resources, but we do not necessarily endorse all policies of these organizations. Despite the title of our blog, the focus is not only on walruses. So what's with the title? We named this blog after our cat, Wally, aka The Walrus. We are the proud parents of two cats (Wally and Tito) and one dog (Luigi).