Animal Advocate in Need of Kidney Donor; Please Share with All Your Animal Rescue Friends!

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Me (left) and Bonnie Plafke, who came to hang out with me during testing in Florida.

It is with a sad heart that I report today on my efforts to be a kidney donor for my animal rescue friend Bonnie Plafke. In initial testing, our blood matched well, so I flew to Florida last month for two days of in-depth physical exams. Although I got a clean bill of health overall, it was discovered that my kidneys are smaller than normal.

What is “normal”?

My kidneys measured 8.3 and 8.5 cm compared to a “normal” of around 10 or greater (4-5 inches). The day I met with the doctor, he seemed to feel it was not a big deal since my other numbers seemed fine, but the group finally met and reviewed my case and turned me down as a donor. It seems my body is more selfish than my heart.

Bonnie is therefore still in need of a kidney donor. All testing and medical is paid by her insurance. A donor needs to be in good health and be type O to be tested.

And, of course, be doing it without pay or coercion, which is against the law.

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Bonnie getting dialysis, which she has to have three times a week. She’s determined to keep her spirits up, although some days are not easy.

I was so excited to give the gift of life, and am so very, very disappointed that I am unable to carry through. I hope there’s someone else out there who can help Bonnie.

Who is Bonnie Plafke, and how do I know her?

bonnie3Bonnie has been my Facebook friend for years, as animal advocates tend to gather large amounts of “friends” that they don’t really know in person but have similar interests in helping animals.

I saw Bonnie’s posts about her ongoing kidney problems, and when she hit the stage of needing a donor, I volunteered to be tested. We both have Type O blood, which is the crucial first step for anyone willing to donate for her.

Although O is the universal donor, people with type O blood can only receive from each other, so it is harder for those with type O to find a donor.

Bonnie Plafke is a dynamo in her own right.

Inspired by the high kill rate of animals at Miami Dade Animal Services, Bonnie Plafke co-founded the first successful county-backed animal transport program in the country, Dogs on the Move. The transport has saved over 4,800 dogs since its inception in late 2011, and performed the largest-ever transport in November of 2013, saving 215 dogs in a single day. Dogs on the Move is the only rescue group to ever get a Proclamation from the mayor and commissioners of Miami, who declared October 23, 2013 Dogs on the Move Day in Miami. Bonnie also received the Hometown Hero award from the Florida Panthers in April of 2015 for her work with Dogs on the Move. Bonnie was born in Brooklyn, New York, and moved to South Florida in 1978.

Bonnie has been married nearly 45 years, and has two children in their early 30s, an executive chef and a copywriter, both living and working in New York City.

When I went to Florida for testing, my husband Joe came with me, and we had dinner with Bonnie and Rob, learning a lot about them and their many years together. Rob thanked me from the bottom of his heart for doing this for his wife, and I jokingly told him that if he wanted rid of her, to let me know and I wouldn’t go through with it. He said, “Well, some days…” (All married couples will understand that joke!)

Of course I didn’t know at the time that I would be unable to go through with it for physical reasons, and it makes me sad for Bonnie’s family now, too.

I’m a firm believer that when you give the gift of life, you’re giving almost as great a gift to yourself as to the recipient of your kidney.

Although I’m super upset on Bonnie’s behalf, I’m selfishly sad for my sake too. With the state of our country today, it’s hard for me to find kindness and goodness to help buoy myself up, find faith in other humans. I wanted something I could feel good about, something to help me believe again.

I’ve been in the animal advocacy movement for over 15 years, and I’m struck over and over again by the willingness of rescuers to tear each other down and destroy each other. How often do they lift each other up? Really be THERE for one another in the way that they deserve?

I was hoping to be part of one of those such stories. But it’s not to be for me.

What about you? Do you want to make a difference for another animal advocate, especially one who’s been instrumental in saving the lives of so many dogs?

If you aren’t in a position to be an organ donor, can you share this post so maybe Bonnie can find her person to make a difference for her? Thank you!

If you’d like to learn more about kidney donation, visit this link. If you’d like to discuss donating to Bonnie in particular, contact Bonnie at 954-638-9943 or plafke@comcast.net.

If you have any questions about my experience, feel free to ask questions in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer them.

When You Fight AGAINST Dog Breed Discrimination but FOR Human “Breed” Discrimination

You might be a Nazi.

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Debi Day, No Kill Nation founder, according to her own facebook posts, marched in Charlottesville.

For the longest time, I never realized that caring about people receiving equal treatment made me a liberal. I thought it made me human.

I’ve been even more confused when I discover that people who fight for equality for the animals are not by default standing on the side of equality for humans, too.

How can that be?

This weekend it came out that Debi Day, founder of No Kill Nation, was marching with the Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville, according to Animals 24-7: “Facebook postings from Day herself and other ‘Unite the Right’ participants, including video of allegedly armed marchers, appear to put her prominently on the scene at one of the largest white supremacist events of the 21st century.”

The article goes on to state that “Day was also identified by the Miami Herald as one of the funders of a failed August 2012 attempt to repeal the lightly enforced 1989 Miami-Dade County ban on possession of pit bulls.”

Day and her organization, No Kill Nation, (a very ironic name given that she’s taken to marching around the country armed to the teeth) have also been financial supporters of the No Kill Advocacy Center. Founder Nathan Winograd was blindsided by the news, and has put out a very eloquent and heartfelt statement concerning his position and the position of his organization.

I have a very hard time understanding the dichotomy of Day’s two positions.

From where I’m standing, they appear to be exact opposites in nature:

Number 1:

NO, PIT BULLS SHOULDN’T BE DISCRIMINATED AGAINST. THEY ARE EQUAL TO ALL OTHER DOGS. NO, ANIMALS SHOULDN’T BE KILLED IN SHELTERS. KILLING IS WRONG.

Yet, then…

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And then Number 2:

ONLY WHITE PEOPLE ARE WORTHY OF EQUALITY. WITH OTHER WHITE PEOPLE. ANYONE WHO PROTESTS THIS POSITION AND STANDS FOR EQUALITY FOR ALL SHOULD BE AT BEST THREATENED INTO SILENCE BY OUR WEAPONS, OR AT WORST, RUN OVER OR KILLED IN SOME HORRIBLE FASHION.

What. The. Hell.

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Love this saying. You can get these shirts all over the internet.

What kind of a disconnect must this woman be embracing if she doesn’t notice or care that her two positions are in exact opposition to one another? How can people advocate for equality for animals but not humans?

I will never understand.

What I do know is this:

It’s incredibly important that white people speak out now and let the victimized know we do not support what is going on in our country.

I am white. (Although I have been mistaken for other nationalities on occasion.) Even as a white person, I struggle every day with self-esteem issues. And yet, how can my struggles to feel good about myself compare to those who are treated so unfairly by racists in America? How must they struggle to feel they deserve to BE here in America, they deserve to feel good about who they are and the color of their skin?

I had a pretty shitty childhood, and grew up with a fair amount of abuse within my own family. My family imploded as a result, and I remember, even many years before I became vegetarian, my brother—usually when he was drunk—saying things like “We should kill all the gooks,” or “We should hold all the vegetarians down and shove meat down their throats.”

As young adults he and I would sometimes get into brawls over the things he said. Growing up in an angry, intolerant, yet supposedly ‘religious’ family, I WAS BORN INTO THE DEMOGRAPHIC THAT ELECTED TRUMP.

But even then, I was the outsider to this family and way of thinking. Even then, I knew it was wrong to talk about other nationalities that way. Even then, I loved animals, wished I was vegetarian, but I was too selfish to give up my own pleasures (for many years).

Even then, I just wanted to get away from my own family. I struggle every day since Trump was elected with fear and depression over the way other nationalities (and women, and skin colors, and LGBTQ, and…and…) are treated in our country and my own feelings of powerlessness to stop it.

I can walk away from my family. I cannot walk away from my country.

I stand against all those of my race—MEN AND WOMEN, animal advocates or not—who do not accept other races or sexual orientations as our equals. I believe in fairness, and although I’ve learned along the way that life will never be fair, that is the ONLY morally acceptable position for anyone with a brain and a heart to embrace. Everyone deserves equality.

Anything else is unacceptable.

Let’s Call it What it Is, Rescue Ladies and Hangers-On: Jealousy

I’ve always considered myself a woman’s woman, but after the horrible cruelty I experienced at the hands of women in the rescue world—lashing out through their keyboards because they’re too cowardly to say it to my face—I really had to pull back and rethink.

I’m still rethinking, as a matter of fact.

And what I think is that I’d never again get involved in active rescue (beyond my annual foster pledge). Which one could argue is a shame, but I like to believe that I did my time—I spent 13 years on the front lines and taking abuse from all sides—and now we have new blood to take center stage.

During those difficult years, I all-too-often believed my abusers; believed it was me. There must be something wrong about me, off about me, too abrasive about me, too ‘radical’ about me, and maybe they were right—maybe I was just a horrible person.

Yet now I see the same thing happening to two other lovely ladies who are standing tall and making change for the animals, and quite frankly, it’s making my blood boil, and I’m compelled to speak out on their behalves. (Although they both did a fine job standing up for themselves.)

When it’s not me in the hot seat, when I can see the machinations behind the bullying more clearly, I can see exactly what it is:

jealousy

Jealousy. Pure and simple.

When it’s happening to you, you don’t have the freedom to say people are jealous of you, even if you have the clarity of mind to figure it out. It just makes you look narcissistic, which will already be one of their accusations against you and only further fuels the rage they spew.

But now that I’m not on the chopping block, I can and will call out jealousy when I see it.

And I’m seeing it now.

Two women who I am friendly with and hold respect for in the rescue movement put out posts in the last two days talking about the abuse and vitriol that is currently being heaped upon their heads.

Why? Because they’ve stood up and taken action. And people are jealous of that. Let’s call it what it is, folks.

Jealousy, pure and simple.

denisebitzOne, Denise Bitz, is the founder and President of Brother Wolf Animal Rescue in Asheville, North Carolina. She used to be a rep in that area fighting for the chained dogs when I was with Dogs Deserve Better, so I got to know her through that work, finding her to be strong and ethical.

She’s done fabulous things since starting Brother Wolf, and the organization now, in addition to rescuing dogs and cats, has embraced veganism and right to life for ALL animals, proudly standing by that vision.

For this stance, she has been personally attacked, and even shamed for the way her body looks, for the fact that she’s not model-thin.

Last I checked, being a model was not a prerequisite for making a difference for the animals. Or most of us would not be here, now would we?

When I was being relentlessly attacked on social media, I was told over and over again to just ‘take the high ground. Continue on about my work. They would get bored and go somewhere else.’ But that’s not really true. There are some really sick human beings who become obsessed with destroying their targets, and these SOB’s continue despite you ignoring them.

If one has the money or the energy to take these sorts of people to court for defamation, you might spend many thousands of dollars and come away with little in the form of satisfaction or peace of mind.

How ugly your situation gets depends on the personality disorder of the person you’re dealing with. For those sidekick bullies, the ones just following the BIG BULLY, a strongly-worded letter from an attorney is usually enough to scare them off. But for the hard-core folks with major personality disorders—the leaders of the anti-YOU movement—not much scares them off once they sink their teeth into you.

Take the below, for example: this is from an expert analysis of a woman, a doctor, who harassed one of our reps (who also happened to be her patient) during my years with DDB. This doctor simply switched over to me (having never met me in person) once she was court-ordered to leave our rep alone. I’m sure she is still out there targeting someone today, because her analysis all but guarantees that fact:

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When you’re dealing with a psychosis of this magnitude, above, nothing short of a miracle and another poor SOB pissing them off more will sway them from targeting you.

Denise stood up to her abusers with grace and dignity, even showing compassion for them and not anger. I applaud and commend her, and hope that others will rally around her and her group in the face of others’ cruelty.

She writes: “The nasty comments, allegations, rumors, falsities that continue to be perpetuated by a VERY SMALL group of people in Asheville including the two mentioned above…I want to make sure that everyone is crystal clear here….their hate stems from a very simple place. From my personal stance on veganism and our organizational stance on veganism. The hate attacks, orchestrated attacks on Facebook, etc. all started at the same time we started promoting veganism. And you will see subtle hints of this from them—like Sue mentioned in the screen-shotted comment ‘Denise won’t eat the dog food because it’s not vegan.’

I know our veganism makes you uncomfortable. And for that, well, too bad. I am not going to apologize for being a kind, compassionate person, leading an organization that is a reflection of my values NOR am I going to apologize for having a beautiful Board Of Directors who not only embraces our core ethic of Uncompromised Compassion but lives it everyday. And if you don’t want to hear compelling stories about animals—all animals—from our organization and just want to hear about dogs and cats, then maybe it is time to move on. There are plenty of other “animal welfare” organizations out there that do not promote veganism as a moral baseline.

Our work for the dogs and cats will not only continue, but get stronger every year. But so will our work for the farm animals. And yes, when we tell you a story about a calf that we rescued from the veal industry and a pig who came from a factory farm that gives you the warm fuzzies, we are also going to ask you to give them the same consideration you give your dogs and cats. And please don’t eat them. Because they all want to live. There is no humane way to take another beings life. And you can live a healthier life by embracing this lifestyle of compassion. ‘I will not stay silent so that you can stay comfortable.'”

So well said, Denise!

reginaquinn.jpgAnother woman I consider a friend (but have never met in person), Regina Quinn, is going through similar harassment for taking a really strong stand for animals in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area. In fact, when I watched some of the videos she was making—and how much she was putting herself out there—I cringed, because I knew what was coming for her: online abuse by those who became jealous of her efforts and willingness to put herself on the line, and legal trouble because authorities can’t stand a woman doing their jobs for them. They find a need to put her in her place, to remove her from their territory.

Both of these things have since happened to Regina, and I’ve watched her struggle so greatly in the past few weeks.

My heart goes out to her, because I know what it feels like. I share her pain and heartbreak.

She wrote an amazing bit on Facebook I’d like to share in part with you: “I have much to say to the rescue community—some of it good, some bad. 
These past few months have been my greatest and my worst.

The greatest has been realizing my own potential, trusting in my faith and knowing anything is possible if you believe in yourself and let that higher power in to guide you. There is nothing that cannot be accomplished when you truly believe in your mission and purpose on this earth.

We are living in trying times, families against families over the presidential election, religion and values. 
We are as a rescue community working together to save lives each day and at the same time cutting each other’s throats in the name of self righteousness and ego.

The very justice system we claim to be just is crumbling before us and many of you are falling with it. 
Through the ages there have been people who have risen above the masses, took risks to make change, spoke out when their lives were at risk, took chances not from a self-driven need to be acknowledged but for humanity and justice for all.

I decided four years ago that I wanted to be a part of the change. 
My dedication and appreciation comes in the form of knowing I am being driven by a divine power that cannot be seen, only felt. 
How many of you have that inside you? 
I have lost fear in the light of following a purpose driven life. 
To me being a voice for animals is being a voice for you as well. 
No living creature deserves to be ridiculed, stereotyped, judged, abused, neglected, or used for profit.

I want to ask why anyone in the rescue community would go against, bash, discredit, defame a person willing to take a stand for their freedom? The judgment I have received from some of the rescuers here in VA is staggering.

We as humans kill what we fear, destroy what we don’t understand. Someone like me makes those type of people who are lacking in faith and confidence uncomfortable.

I am trying very hard to do what’s right yet people continue to get in the way, bringing false claims and hearsay to the table and pounding forks and knifes with a hunger to destroy my mission.

I am here to tell you that you will not succeed. 
The negative people, the corrupt systems to which we live in every day are the obstacles I will continue to overcome.

For those of you who say you stay out of “the drama”, it is your resistance to standing for what’s right that instead continues to fuel the drama.

For those who seek to destroy, I hope one day you will lose your fear and stop using others to make yourself appear a better person than you really are. Examine yourselves and find your own faults and stop pointing the fingers at those who are willing to make a difference in this world.

I appreciate being liked but its not the purpose of why I’m here. 
I’m here to force change. 
Either you’re with me or against me. 
Just realize every time you get in my way, you are preventing more progress for the animals I am here to help.”

Today, as one on the sidelines trying to cheer for those doing the work, I want to say “BRAVO! HEAR HEAR!” to these two women, and the many others out there who are going through hell at this very moment because you stood tall for the animals.

They cannot say it, but I can.

YOU BULLIES? YOU’RE JUST JEALOUS of their success.

When a woman stands tall in her beliefs and finds some success, suddenly she is attacked and becomes a target for others’ cruelty.

Every human being (at least all but the very highest of us) feels jealous of the success of others. It’s what we do about that jealousy that matters. When I feel jealous of someone else, I recognize they are succeeding in an area in which I’d like to succeed, and take stock of how much effort I’m willing to put into being a success there.

If I’m not willing to put in the effort that they do, then I have no one but myself to blame for not being as ‘famous’ or successful as these other woman. I know that I have no right to go after them online to make myself feel better. None whatsoever. Neither do these women. Denise and Regina pointing out their bad behavior is not playing the victim. They are standing up to their abusers.

I always considered myself a woman’s woman, but the way I’ve seen women treat each other in this movement is truly shameful, and I hang my head for those who seek to do harm to our sisters.

Jealous of what someone else is accomplishing for the animals? This is a clear sign for you to take action to improve your own life by doing more for the animals, too. When you do that, you’ll be so busy building something that matters that you’ll have no time or desire to do harm to other women.

And you’ll be ashamed that you ever did.

If you’re a woman who’s participated in these attacks, even orchestrated them, and have had a change of heart, I urge you to apologize to the one you hurt. It is so freeing, for you AND for her, and gives you good karma points to boot. God knows we could all use more of those.