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Sean Martin speaks with Nassau County Legislator, Mike Vendito

Sean Martin speaks with Nassau County Legislator, Mike Vendito

This year’s National Dog Week theme has centered on Kids and Canines. It is a wide and varied topic, and covers lots of ground. In keeping with this theme, I’ve asked young Sean Martin, a 13 year-old animal advocate and actor, to write about his work on behalf of homeless animals. With the help of his mom, Melanie, and other family members, Sean helped to create Kids Adopt a Shelter a few years ago, and has given a lot of thought to making some changes in the lives of our Companion Animals. Here he demonstrates how thoughts, when put into words can inspire one to act (and not only for the camera in this case)! To learn more about Seans’ work, please visit:

Sean has been working with John Vendito, mayor of Oyster Bay, New York, and John’s son, Mike Vendito, Nassau County Legislator, to put some of his ideas into action. Recently, I asked Sean to write about his current mission and here is what he told me:

The most important issues I feel facing the dog population of the nation are backyard breeding, puppy mills, kill shelters, lack of low cost spay and neuter, dog fighting, BSL (breed specific legislation), animal abuse, and the lack of enforcement of animal abuse laws.

I feel backyard breeding and puppy mills are an issue because there are tons of irresponsible people bringing dogs into this world and most wind up not finding homes, and the ones that are not adopted wind up in awful situations. I also feel that dogs should not be permitted to be sold in pet stores, most of the dogs found in pet stores have heath issues and their parents are mistreated and they are inbred which creates more health issues. My solution for these issues would be mandatory licenses for breeders, which would include spontaneous and frequent check-ups, and if they violated the conditions of their licenses, they would lose them, they would be heavily fined, and they would also lose their rights to their animals.

Kill shelters exist due to overpopulation of animals and it is the easiest and cheapest way to run a “shelter.” I think kill shelters should be brought down and animals should only be put down in certain conditions; if they are hurt very badly, reaching old age and have an illness for which there is no cure. The best way to end this and bring those kill shelters down, or turn them into adoption centers is to make laws against animal murder. I think it is murder to give a dog 2 to 7 days to be claimed before being put down in a shelter. We need to make it easier for these animals to be adopted, and help them by giving them all the things they need such as supplies and medicine. Shelters can use these resources to help homeless animals find good homes instead of killing them.

The high cost of spaying and neutering is another reason we have an animal overpopulation problem. It’s easy to make it inexpensive and I think that all shelters and adoption centers should have FREE spay and neuter programs and that every shelter, adpotion center, or breeder should spay and neuter the animals before they go to a new home. I also think that it should be a law to have animals spayed or neutered, if you have animals that are not spayed or neutered, and you can lose your animals if they are not. The only people who could adopt an animal that is not spayed, or neutered, would be a licensed breeder. It’s so much less expensive to Spay and Neuter then to provide 4-10 puppies everything they need, its even less expensive to Spay and Neuter a male and female then to Euthanize 4-10 unwanted dogs. Spay and Neuter should be mandatory.

I think a lot of these issues go hand in hand, I think it all goes to Spay and Neutering. We can save so many animals if we stop them from having unwanted babies. Everyone thinks their dog is the best and they want puppies, but those puppies have puppies, and then we wind up with a major crisis on our hands like we have now.

I am working with legislation for my “Laws for Paws Kids” project, and I plan to work with government to make real changes. I know a lot of people think it’s wrong to make spay and neutering mandatory, but it’s also wrong to KILL dogs. I want to end Puppy mills by creating harsher breeding laws, and end the sale of dogs in pet stores, which will put puppy mills out of business. I want to end Breed Specific Legislation and, “blame the deed not the breed.” I want to help shelters with my Kids Adopt a Shelter mission by off-setting costs so they can stop the killing of innocent dogs and become true NO KILL. I want to pass laws to mandate Spay and neutering and enforce licenses for breeders and end backyard breeding. I want the government to enforce animal abuse laws and make harsher penalties for animal abuse.

I know it seems like I want to do a lot but I am a kid and I have a long time to get these things done. Please support my missions! Thanks.

Happy National Dog Week everyone, and thank you, Sean, for all you do and to so many out there who care and work hard for change. National Dog Week is officially observed the last full week of September, but it’s spirit can be shared all year round.

Sean Martin meets Dr. Ron Paul

Sean Martin meets Dr. Ron Paul

Teddy and I pose with Elizabeth Ackerman, Chairperson for Brick Township's 2013 DogFest

Teddy and I pose with Elizabeth Ackerman, Chairperson for Brick Township’s 2013 DogFest

I would like to take a moment to thank the over 400 fire-fighters, and first-responders who rushed to battle an eight-alam fire in Seaside Park, New Jersey, last week in an effort to save the Boardwalks. In the end, despite their best efforts, the equivalent of four city blocks, over thirty businesses, and countless memories were consumed by flames. Portions of the Seaside Heights Boardwalk, so severely decimated by Superstorm Sandy were also destroyed by last week’s fire.

It was a massive event that made national news, and it seems we at the Jersey Shore have asked the world for a lot of help in the past year. On that note, I would also like to acknowldedge those who came to the aid of Brick Township’s American Legion Post, which continues to recover from Hurricane Sandy. On August 24th, a terrific fundraiser was held at the Brick Township VFW Post to raise funds to rebuild and restore Post #348. With combined efforts of the Post membership, Ladies Auxiliary, Sons of the American Legion, Legion Riders and our Junior Auxiliary, a significant success was achieved and our inside canteen should be up and running, better than ever, in the very near future. As part of the fundraiser, Susan Barros, President of the Ladies Auxiliary, and her dedicated committee, gathered nearly one-hundred amazing baskets that were raffled at the event. High-end items included golf outings, fishing trips and great Destination packages!

On a personal note, I would like to thank the following who generously donated to a pet-themed basket that was raffled: Dr. Adam Christman and the staff of Brick Township Veterinary Hospital, Elsa Mikus and Barbara Ryan of Tempest and a Teapot (for a sweet piece of doggy artwork), Harbour Pet Supplies in Pt. Pleasant, and A Dog House dog grooming salon, in Brick. Your contribution went to a good cause. If you would like to make a donation to our American Legion Post to further help in their recovery please go to:

Recently, the Township of Brick held their Fourth Annual Dog Fest, sponsored by our local Rotary Club. Teddy and I enjoyed the day, and as a blogger, I am happy to say this was my fourth visit to this event. At its first observance, I asked Mayor Stephen Acropolis to proclaim Brick Township a National Dog Week Community. He did so gladly, and I am happy to see that tradition continues at each Opening Ceremony of Dog Fests in the manner that the late Captain Arthur Haggerty, (aka the Grandfather of American Dog Obedience), and Will Judy intended!

Perhaps we can view this Proclamation as, “just words.” However when those words are incorporated into a event that honors dogs, the spirit of National Dog Week continues, even 85 years after its founding. Those words celebrate and embrace America’s rich canine history, and our love for dogs, while reminding us all that there is still much work to be done to protect their welfare. On that note, I am happy to report that last year, Brick Township banned any new retail sellers of dogs of ever opening in the township, the first city in the Northeast Region of the nation to do so. So a big thanks to Brick Township for making our community one that respects or canines, and provides inspiration for others. I am very proud.

Book News: My book, Dog’s Best Friend:Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week and Dog World Publisher is in production and will be available I am told by the summer of next year (McFarland & Co.). I would like to thank all of my supporters and those who voted me as “Happening Ocean County AUthor,” in a contest sponsored by Ocean Happening On-line magazine. It is an honor to be singled out among a crowd of very talented people! Please stay on the alert for some special NDW posts in the coming days!

May Your Labor be Your Love….

Working Dogs at rest Working Dogs at rest

Happy Labor Day. This holiday, with origins dating back to 1882, was initially, “dedicated to the social and economic achievements of the American Worker.” Today, with so much economic unrest, and the rapid development of technology, many of us feel fortunate just to have a place at which to labor. However, in many of these cases, most are doing much more work, for far less pay, and dealing with conditions that prey on the fact that there are too many workers vying for too few jobs.

I used to work full-time under some of the best working conditions imaginable. But upon turning 30, I realized that corporate life was not my calling. I became a full-time fine artist instead, and during the good years made a decent living. When times got a little “ruff” I became a substitute teacher to fill in the gaps. I loved working with the kids, and as it turned out, during this time I became inspired to write. This summer, I said farewell to the classroom and now work part-time as the manager of a church as a way to create more structure in my life to allow more time for writing.

My husband is a proud member of the ALA (Amalgamated Lithographers of America) Union. When his company moved their operations to other locales, he chose to “retire” early. Coincidentally, his last full-time job in his field was spent at a company that published Pet Care and Dog Breed books, although at that time, I had not started writing about dogs. Rich, who served our nation as a Navy Corpsman, has happily found labor as a house painter, maintenance manager and now as a Bar Captain at our local American Legion post.

I write all this because life is uncertain. We make choices, but often, choices are made for us. We must be open to change and ready to adjust. At this rate, neither of us will probably ever really retire, but that is okay with us. Work keeps us mentally and physically active, and there is always some good experience to be derived from each “job stop,” along the way.

Will Judy, the founder of National Dog Week, truly understood this. As a youth, he was trained as a minister and was the school teacher for his small rural community in Western Pennsylvania. But he had a larger vision and a need to get out in the world. His restless and inquisitive nature lead him far from home. He served his nation during WWI, became a lawyer, and when he had the opportunity, he purchased Dog World Magazine and served as its publisher for several decades.

Long before the concept was widely-embraced, Judy saw the value of the dog in the workplace. He wrote about their use in military and police work and their value as therapy dogs in the treatment of patients in VA hospitals. He knew that dogs labored in a union powered by loyalty, love and devotion to their humans no matter what the circumstances.

I thank you to all of you who have supported me during the writing of Will Judy’s story. I am now writing my 200 word “marketing description” for its publisher and bandying about titles. This has truly been a labor of love (i.e. no advance), but I hope that someday a copy of this book will be found on the library shelves of municipalities and schools across the nation. Judy was a complex and articulate man. A man of his times, yet one who foresaw how important dogs would become to the nation’s huge population of dog owners, and wanted to ensure all who “owned” them would do so responsibly.

I am now fortunate to be working on my next true-life story and will share that soon. I love writing about little-known people and obscure histories, it is so rewarding to see all of them, “have their day,” and receive credit for their labors. I hope their stories inspire others to explore the path not so clearly marked.

May all of you find a way to make your labor your love, and your love, your labor.


"Is it dog week yet?"

"Is it dog week yet?"

Michelle Mongelli and Wheezey

Pike, at Geiger Key

Hooper in the Keys

Hooper in the Keys

“Two Culprits” by Steven Hall

Logan & Koda


DJ Goes to Westminster

Zac and Cooper

"Look daddy, I can fly!"

“Hooper” – Best in Snow

Pita in Matt’s Garden

Hooper with cousin Roxy, Summer 2009

Me and my “Hoop”