Welcome to a blog established to educate dog-lovers across America about the 83-year old tradition of National Dog Week, and a great writing project I am involved in.  To read more, please see ABOUT.

Congratulations to Nikki and her numerous radio and television appearances, including her interview with Wolf Blitzer of CNN…In my next post I’ll tell you how Bocker the Labradoodle is eating human food for Nitro’s Law and how your dog can get in on the action!

Nitro was a beautiful healthy Rottweiler dog born and bred in Ohio, who came to be part of a very loving family in New York. But when Nitro was sent back to Ohio to enjoy some advanced training time with his breeder at a “Summer Camp” at High-Caliber K-9 in Youngstown, Ohio, his life and that of six other dogs would come to an incomprehensible and horribly cruel end at the hands of his own breeder, a man by the name of Steve Croley.  Mr. Croley basically got away with murder, but Liz (Nitro’s Mom) and her family have made it their mission to, “help change laws in Ohio to make animal cruelty a felony.”  To read the full story, please go to http://www.nitrofoundation.com.

Upon hearing of their story, Miami-based animal activist and author, Nikki Moustaki, made it her mission to help bring attention to the plight of animals in Ohio, and other states. The following is my interview with Nikki, whom I had the pleasure to meet at a Pre-Westminster event last week in New York City.

Please tell everyone why you are eating one meal of dog food each day? I first read about Nitro’s Law on Facebook and I was immediately upset by the situation that brought the need for this law to be written. I have three dogs and I can’t imagine not feeding them for half a day, much less not feeding them at all. I have real empathy for other creatures, both human and animal, and it literally hurt me to think of the suffering that the starving dogs incurred at the boarding facility in Ohio where they were tortured to death by being denied food. 

I discovered that the Nitro’s Law did pass the House of Representatives in Ohio — obviously it was a viable law — but it did not pass the senate. I wondered why. 

What steps did you take to find out more about this law? I got in touch with Nitro’s human mom because I wanted to know more about the situation. She told me, with heartbreak in her voice, that she believed that the law did not pass, in part, because it didn’t get enough attention. She told me that the senators were campaigning in 2010 for reelection, so Nitro’s Law wasn’t a priority. Perhaps it can be a priority in 2011 if some attention is brought to it. The potential solution came to me in a “light bulb” moment. I would eat dog food every day and ask other animal lovers to eat dog food with me, and in this way we could get some attention for the law. I decided to post my campaign to YouTube every day to sort of “prove” that I was doing it and to encourage others to do the same. Eating dog food is a very off-the-wall, strange thing to do! I realize that. But I also realize that if someone doesn’t take a stand for injustice, it will continue. Honestly, this is a very small sacrifice compared to the good that can come out of it. 

When did you start? February 1, 2011

Can you tell us about the brand you are consuming? Any good recipes you care to share? The dog food I am eating is called Lucky Dog Cuisine (http://www.luckydogcuisine.com) and it’s the “Porsche of dog foods.” It’s human-grade, meaning that everything in it is fresh and consumable by humans, and the meat is from a butcher. It’s very safe to eat, which is why I chose it. I wanted to choose a food whose ingredients were sourced strictly in the USA. I have also met the owners of the company and I know that the food is made by hand in small batches, which makes me feel safe. I also feel good feeding it to my dogs. And no, Lucky Dog Cuisine is not paying me to say this or do this! I just want to stress that if anyone else joins me they should choose a human grade food — I want this law to pass, but I also want everyone to stay healthy. 

I can cook well, I just tend to be lazy and order or eat out. I’ve been mixing the dog food with food I get from the store or restaurants, and that has been good. I’m planning some recipes, but that means dirtying up pots and pans! 

How can others join in this cause? People can join as a “team member,” eating dog food every day with me until this law is reintroduced, or as a “cheerleader,” eating dog food occasionally or eating biscuits, etc. They should see this link for details: http://betterwords.typepad.com/nikki_moustaki/requirements-to-join-the-nitros-law-eating-dog-food-campaign.html.

How will you make sure the right powers learn about your mission and what do you hope to accomplish?  Have you contacted any senators or congress people who can help you?

The idea behind this is to get as much attention for Nitro’s Law as possible. That’s my role in the team. The other people working toward getting Nitro’s Law passed, including Nitro’s mom and other supporters, are the ones calling the congressmen, writing letters etc. It’s definitely a team effort. 

 Have you reached out to Ellen DeGenares, or anyone with her power, for national exposure? I think that some of my supporters have contacted Ellen. I know that she’s an animal lover and it would be amazing to get onto her show because it would give a lot of exposure to Nitro’s Law. 

How do people react in general upon hearing about your mission? From the very beginning, day one, people have rallied behind this cause and jumped on board to eat dog food with me. About 90% of people are very supportive and think it’s a great idea, and 10% think I’m crazy, but sometimes it takes being a little crazy to get something great done. It’s “good crazy.” 

Eating dog food once a day is the craziest thing I have done to help animals, but I do a lot of other things to help animals as well. I run a site called The Pet Postcard Project (www.petpostcardproject.com) where people send me postcards in the mail and some dog food goes to animal shelters for each postcard I receive. I have raised over 116,000 pounds of dog food this way. I also take dogs out of my local shelter and find them homes. 

I am not unsympathetic to human causes, such as hunger, disease, and the environment. But those are such huge issues with a lot of people working on them already, and I choose to focus on issues where I feel I can make the most impact. 

 If people do not wish to join in and eat along, is there anything they can do to help build awareness of this cause? People can share this on Facebook and Twitter, subscribe to my YouTube videos, and tell everyone they know about it. If they live in Ohio, they can call their local politicians and tell them that they want Nitro’s Law reintroduced into the House of Representatives. 

After this interview, I contacted Liz who is grateful for the attention Nikki is bringing to their cause.  But her appreciation is bittersweet as she states, “Honestly I think it’s very sad that we’ve had to resort to eating dog food to get a law passed to protect our companion animals. I do believe it will continue to generate awareness which is a very important first step to bring about this necessary change.”

Nikki and her rescue dog, Pearl, with Martha Smith of http://www.ilovedogs.com

Congratulations to Nikki for putting her money (or dog food) where her mouth is and walking the walk for an issue that is so important.  I wish her, and all involved in this cause much success.  Nikki has suggested we do lunch one day in the Keys while I am down there and I am thinking that this just might mean there is a Lucky Dog meal, or at least a dog biscuit, in my future. If anyone reading has any influence in the state of Ohio, please use it.

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