Animal Defenders of Westchester began in 2002 and is a
charitable organization. Our goal, very simply put, is to raise awareness about animal
abuse and exploitation in and around Westchester County, NY:
to point out that the elephant standing on her head and walking in
circles on a hot day with ten children on her back, isn't a block of
wood-but rather, a living, feeling sentient being who deserves better.
We are also
introducing the concept of vegan living to benefit personal health and the
environment, in addition to dwelling on the fact that animals have a right
to not be killed for food, made into clothing, forced to perform, or
experimented on. We accomplish this in varied, creative and inspired ways.
*Strength of Purpose
We have found that through persistence, strength of
purpose, personal contact and exploring our own resources we can frequently
accomplish far more than we first realized: for example, persistent, direct
contact with local management allowed us to be the first county in the U.S.
to persuade Walgreens Dept. store to remove the sad little "Aqua Babies"
from their shelves. And 'brainstorming' with
knowledgeable long-time activists helped us get turtle races out of
Westchester bars - by contacting the Dept. of Health...and when some
detective work revealed some bars were claiming the PBA was
profiting 'charitably' from the races, we contacted the
police, who stopped it once and for all.
We have found that, although email is a helpful adjunct,
there is no substitute for a personal phone call or formal meeting. And
while we are always polite and professional, we will not hesitate to express
righteous and moral indignation for the animals.
PLEASE SAY HELLO TO SOME OF OUR MEMBERS!
NADINE ZIMMER, coordinator for original
MOBILIZATION FOR ANIMALS. Provided invaluable assistance in
Greenburgh, Mt. Vernon and with the USTA Rodeo. Though
she is out of state now, she is still an ADW member - we miss her!
ELINORE GORDON, longtime activist and a wealth of
information. When Elinore was in high school, she
carried peanuts in one pocket for the squirrels, seeds in another pocket for
the birds, and sardines in another pocket for stray cats.
HARRY HOVEL, is also the volunteer treasurer of NYSHA,
the NY State Humane Association. When he ran previous Fur Free Friday demos
on freezing November days, if any activists complained of the cold, he
reminded them that it was far worse for the animals. We are honored to have
him in our group.
JULIE SERENSON, is also one of the founders of the
Friends of the Yonkers Animal Shelter
www.friendsofyas.com "I grew up on a
small family-run farm in Europe, and my parents taught me to always be kind
to the animals and respect them. As I grew up, whenever I saw a sick or
injured animal, my first instinct was to help. A few years ago a friend and
I followed a puppy who ran across the road, into the woods. We found his
whole family living in an abandoned car. We fed them regularly till they
allowed us to come near them and rescue them. Thus began our group."
YLIANA ROBERTS, had nightmares at five years old about
pet shop animals having to walk on cold metal grating. She became a
vegetarian at age twelve!
SHEILA RICHARDSON, remembers that the nursery rhyme
"Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair" made her cry as a child. Later, when the Chernobyl
meltdown reported 'No casualties' she began to realize there might be other
uncounted 'casualties' in the animal world. And when she attended her first
Fur Free Friday, traditionally held the day after Thanksgiving, she 'made
the connection' - and knew she'd eaten her last turkey dinner.
TAFFY WILLIAMS, also heads up the NY Whale and Dolphin
Action League, which is a project of Cetacean Society International
Taffy just became a board member of Cetacean Society
International: "I was a professional musician, and I read about how
sonar was killing whales, and I cried for three weeks. I
thought, I don't have the luxury of just being a musician, while ignoring
the earth and the planet's suffering; little by little I realized that what
we do to the environment affects the wildlife and the entire planet. I felt
it; and I cried. And I became an activist."
JILL DOORNICK, founded ANIMAL NATION, a
www.animalnation.org . Her mission statement
is to 'ignite compassion in the hearts of all beings.'
NICOLE LEVY TRINCILLA, became involved in the animal
rights movement about 10 years ago. "I always loved animals but when a
friend of mine gave me a pamphlet on cosmetic testing on animals, I couldn't
believe what I saw and vowed to never again buy a product that any animal
had to suffer for me to use. I quickly searched and became involved with any
organization that was fighting for the rights of defenseless, speechless,
innocent animals. I now go nowhere, including school, work, grocery
shopping, etc, without MY pamphlets and I give
them to anyone and everyone that will listen (and even those that don't). I
INFORM THE UNINFORMED and I hope and pray that they spread the word and help
protect and save these voiceless, creatures that cannot speak for
themselves. I feel better knowing that I AT LEAST TRY to HELP those that
cannot help themselves. Wouldn't you want that done for you, if you couldn't
speak or defend yourself?? I know I would!!!"
CAROLE BASS always thought it was wrong to wear animal
skins for shoes, fur, etc., but never considered the implications of eating
animals. One day her friend was telling her about a rash of stray cat
poisonings in the neighborhood, and Carol expressed outrage; but the friend
said, "What's the difference if you poison animals or eat them?" Carole has
been vegan ever since.
FRANCELLE WAX, has turned her family into AR advocates,
who discovered the power of being a 'walking billboard:' "When I was home
last weekend I gave my parents belated birthday mother's/father's day
presents of animal advocacy t-shirts. My dad was wearing his "Whips and
Chains belong in the bedroom, not in the Circus. Boycott Ringling Brothers"
shirt and a woman commented on it, said she was a vegetarian and asked him
how she could get involved in animal rights!"
DENISE BOFFI's nine-year-old daughter was one of our
youngest participants at a circus demo. This is from Denise's very eloquent
note regarding about lapsed vegans and her own experience going veg:
"I was thinking about what
you told me about people going back to eating meat from being a vegan.
That's quite a leap. Then again, I gave up meat a little at a time, and
that was when I was unable to put it in my mouth. I remember eating
hamburgers even though I knew.
It wasn't until I heard the cows bellowing in my mind as my hands
brought the burger to my mouth that I was able to stop. Chicken and fish
were the last to go, and it was the same thing, I might as well be eating
my cat or my birds. I think I would vomit if I put a piece of flesh in my
mouth. Maybe for these vegans, they gave it up because of the concept,
but it was a great effort to avoid something they didn't completely
associate with causing other creatures to suffer. Human beings have a
great capacity for rationalization.
I am still in the
process of separating myself from cheese and ice cream. I know I will
reach the point when I will be unable to eat it anymore. Leather shoes,
belts and bags are a thing of the past. It is so incredible how animal
products find their way into so many things.
Am I preaching to the choir or what?"
CAROLYN ADESSA sent us this note, in response our
posting of a NY Times article about slaughterhouses: "I
haven't eaten flesh (except for fish) in many years. This article reinforces
my resolve not only to continue avoiding meat, but also to consider giving
up fish. No doubt, people who work in fish processing plants come under
similar pressures and dangers, even if not quite so widespread or severe.
Thank you for making the invisible among us - VISIBLE."
LYDIA ANTONCIC (as profiled in a 'Singles in
Westchester' article in WESTCHESTER MAGAZINE,
TOWN: New Rochelle
OCCUPATION: Attorney/animal welfare advocate
IDEAL DATE: A weekend at a snug and romantic B & B,
with champagne and a fireplace
WORST DATE: A guy who spent the first hour of our
brunch date convincing me he was 'practically vegan', and then proceeded
to order eggs, bacon and cheese!
HOBBIES: Anything athletic - I'm quite a gym buff
and practically live at Equinox in Scarsdale.
LAST BOOK READ: THE TIPPING POINT by Malcolm
Gladwell. It's all about how to start a social or marketing epidemic.
FAVORITE FOOD: I'm a vegetarian and health food
junkie so things like sautéed kale and flax seed muffins really get me
excited, preferably accompanied by a full-bodied red wine.
QUIRKIEST HABIT: On weekends I have been known to
visit my local bagel store wearing pajamas under my winder coat.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR: Someone who is willing to
embrace my son and my cat and dog.
SANDRA KANTOR, as a very young child, felt a strong
connection to another species, whether bug or animal. "At 5 yrs old I would
go to bed heartsick because of the way people treated animals. By 10 yrs
old I would feed the strays, take in injured birds, and yell at people who
were mean to animals.
I have a very strong passion and respect for the
lives of all animals. Their lives are important and belong to them.
My hope is for humans to acknowledge them as a
"species" who feels everything we do ... and all animals are given their
The stupidity and mentality of the way animals are
perceived & treated must STOP. I am very vocal in public about animal
abuse and issues. People stop and stare at me, that is a good thing.
I want humans to stop using animals for their
entertainment. My favorite expression is: "what an amount of suffering
and cruel punishment the poor creatures have to endure in order to give
pleasure to men devoid of thought".
I volunteer at animal shelters (15 yrs.)in Florida &
now Westchester Cty; four times a year send boxes of chewies (500)chewies
-- and bedding to Shelter; and every day I write letters and/or educate
people about the animal's plight."
KIMBERLY SUE DESIO, is a native of Yonkers, NY. She
has been an animal lover, or Bunny Hugger as she calls herself, since she
was a baby. Kimberly accredits her appreciation for animals and nature to
both of her parents, especially her mother, who taught her that animals
have feelings just like people and that we must respect all of nature.
Kimberly participated in her high school's SAVE program (Student Against
Violating the Environment) and began getting involved with animal
rights/welfare issues in college. She promoted shelter adoption during a
planned speech in class and solicited donations for the Elmsford Animal
Shelter during the holiday season. Kimberly has also donated to and
participated in letter-writing and petition-signing for Peta, The Humane
Society, and the ASPCA.
"While I have not participated in any demonstrations,
I believe that I can still help spread awareness through other means,
including verbal communication with friends, family, and basically anyone
who will listen. I also sell my artistic designs, many of which advertise
a vegetarian and animal rights/welfare message, on T-shirts, mugs,
postcards, etc. If my designs can touch just a few people, and maybe even
make someone really think, then I will feel like I have done something
I also support a Vegetarian lifestyle, avoiding ALL
meat - chicken and fish included. Even as a child I just never acquired a
taste for most meats, and began shying away from them as I grew older.
The more I educated herself on what goes on behind the slaughterhouse
doors, the more disgusted I grew. It may sound silly, but I credit my two
Netherland Dwarf Rabbits, Thumper and Louis, in my decision to give up
meat completely. They inspired me to stand up for all creatures who
cannot speak out for themselves.
I had read Stories Rabbits Tell: A Natural and
Cultural History of a Misunderstood Creature by Susan E. Davis and Margo
Demello, of the House Rabbit Society, and was completely and utterly
appalled at the way meat rabbits and even breeder rabbits are treated.
These poor creatures are not even protected by state or federal laws
because they are neither considered pets, nor meat animals by the
government. So, one day my mom had made Cornish Hens for dinner. I
really did not want to eat them anyway, but I had not yet figured out how
to explain my consideration of going vegetarian to my family. I sat down,
staring at this little bird and it hit me: This is kind of what my little
bunnies, my babies, would look like if they had their heads and legs
chopped off and were cooked for dinner. I tried to eat, not to get
scolded, but at my second bite I got sick and had to run to the bathroom.
I came back telling my mom I was sick and could not eat. Knowing me, she
asked if I was sick because I was ill or if I was sick because I did not
want to eat the chicken. I told her the truth and decided from that moment
forward that meat would never again touch my lips. It is the most
fulfilling decision I have ever made, and probably the first thing in my
life that truly gives me a sense of self-worth for really doing the right
MIKEY is the companion of Tarrytown teacher Kim
Auer. He was one of nine pups of a mother plucked from the waters of the
Katrina flood. He was featured in The Journal News coverage of "Bark in
the Park" at Ossining. He is a star at home, where all the
neighbors know him by name. 'Mikey gets the royal treatment from my dad
when I'm at work. We use the dog park all the time - but he hates the
(Below is a new ADOW graphic that Kim
created for us)