By Laura Drucker
It doesn’t take long to realize that Chicago native Katie Cleary is more than just a stunning beauty. In fact, it’s difficult to see how Cleary, a passionate animal activist, even has time to fit in her acting and modeling career. We sat down with the founder of Peace 4 Animals, TradioV’s World Animal News, and creator of the rescue film Give Me Shelter, to discuss her many pets and projects.
TAILS: Can you tell us about your pets?
Katie Cleary: I have four dogs that are all rescues. Charlie is an Australian Shepherd/Terrier Mix, whom I rescued from a Pasadena shelter—he has the most adorable markings on his face and such an independent personality. My second is a Chihuahua/Doxie mix I rescued from the streets. He was hit by a car and I found him in the middle of the road with a broken femur bone. I took him to the vet and fixed him up and decided to keep him and name him Lucky. My third is Butch, he is a German Shepherd/Lab Mix who was rescued by my husband—he’s the grandpa of the bunch. Our fourth is Wolfie. I rescued him from the parking lot at the Baldwin Park shelter. He is a Husky/Alaskan Malamute mix who was given up at three months old by a family that couldn’t take care of him anymore. He’s the troublemaker!
They all get along very well with our rescued cats Aldo, Cali, and our newest, little Blu. We also took in two white doves that my friend found on the side of the road last month.
Did anything in particular inspire you to get involved in animal welfare?
When I was very young my mom and I would rescue and bottle feed abandoned kittens who we found in our neighborhood. We then started rescuing injured wildlife, like baby squirrels and birds, and feeding raccoons, cats, and possums. There was such a bond and passion to help them. I knew that I wanted to work with animals for the rest of my life.
What is your main vision for Peace 4 Animals?
My vision is to grow my organization like the World Wildlife Fund and the Humane Society of the United States, but with more of a grassroots approach, while continuing to use the entertainment business as a platform to educate and raise awareness for animals around the world.
Tell us about the film you made, Give Me Shelter, which won the award for Best Documentary Short at the Los Angeles Cinema Festival of Hollywood earlier this year. What do you hope people take away from it?
Give Me Shelter was a dream project. I was able to get together many of my friends in entertainment and the animal community, such as Tippi Hedren, Esai Morales, Michael Vartan, Jill Wagner, Ric O’Barry, Kristen Renton, Charlotte Ross, Elaine Hendrix, and many others, to explore the most important animal issues going on in the world today. It was also a treat because I recruited my best friend from Chicago, Kristin Rizzo, to direct the project.
We’ve won several awards just for the trailer, so I am really looking forward to showing everyone the finished product and getting a distribution deal so that people around the world can be educated on what is really going on with issues that aren’t exposed every day in mainstream media. The idea is to help people make more compassionate decisions when it comes to our furry friends.
You are a big advocate for the fur-free movement. What would you tell somebody who thinks wearing fur is no big deal?
I would tell them to do their research and look at all of the videos online of how the animals are killed and what they go through for your fur coat—you will never want to wear fur ever again. Each year approximately 10 million animals are trapped in the wild so that they can be skinned for fur coats. That is not including the millions overseas in China and other countries slaughtered in fur farms. Some fur trim is mislabeled and really found to be fur from dogs and cats, because of how much cheaper they are to breed.
Another way you help animals is with your jewelry line. How is that going?
I have a Peace 4 Animals tiger necklace that I partnered with jewelry designer Shelly Litvak on. The necklace will be sold in solid silver, crystal, and copper with quotes on the back focusing on the plight of critically endangered tigers. We are getting ready to sell them online at Peace4Animals.com and in stores. They are really beautiful and affordable, and 25% of the proceeds will go toward our endangered species campaign to save the last 1,500 tigers left in the wild. If something isn’t done soon we are going to lose these amazing animals forever.
What is the best thing people can do to help animals?
The most important thing they can do is go to their local shelter and rescue an animal—you can find some amazing companions who are so deserving of a loving home. It is very important to know that most dogs you see in pet stores come from puppy mills. Puppy mills are large breeding factories that have hundreds of purebred dogs stuck in wire cages their whole life, who are never let out and live in their own feces. These dogs are bred purely to supply puppies for pet stores.
Please volunteer at your local shelter or wildlife rehabilitation center, and if you can, foster an animal who would otherwise be put down. You can also bring blankets and extra towels into the shelter [during the] winter to keep the animals warm.
What do you still dream of doing?
My dream is to have my show World Animal News reach a larger audience of people around the world about the most important animal issues going on in our lifetime. I would love to see my movie Give Me Shelter in theaters nationwide so we can save more animals and educate the public on what is really going on. One day I would like to open my own animal sanctuary for rescued wild and exotic animals.
Visit Peace4Animals.com to learn more.