John Scargall has always dreamed of using his voice for good. The Eastern Pennsylvania native knew from an early age that he wanted to be a musician, a vision he parlayed into a successful career on the country music stage. And from the beginning, he’s been conscious about spreading positive messages with his music.
Inspired by his love for his dog Penny, Scargall always tries to make a difference with his shows. He regularly shares about the plight of homeless animals, and has partnered with PACT for Animals to raise money for pets and their people in need. We talked with Scargall about Penny, his passion for music, and his efforts to make the world a better place for animals, one rocking country show at a time.
TAILS: Tell us about your dog, Penny.
John Scargall: My Penny is a 2-year-old chocolate Lab. I call her my fur baby—I absolutely love her. She’s a social butterfly and has to play with every dog at the dog park.
How did she come into your life?
Penny is the reason I’ve become so involved in animal welfare, and that’s because she came into my life through a pet store. It was only after researching the breeder that Penny came from that I found out about puppy mills and the dire situation in shelters across America.
Have you always been interested in animal welfare?
I’ve felt compassion and connection with animals from a very young age. I remember watching animal-related movies like The Rescuers Down Under and crying after the poacher trapped the poor eagle. I’ve always been an emotional guy, and I’m proud of that.
Has Penny inspired your music at all?
She definitely has. In fact, Penny’s usually in the same room when I’m writing songs, so I’m surprised she hasn’t asked for writing credit yet! I’ve got demos with her barking or shaking in the background of the track. These will probably become collector’s items for Penny’s many fans.
How do you balance the traveling nature of professional music with being a pet parent?
I’m very blessed to be friends with the founders of Superfit Canine. They are professional search and rescue dog handlers, and they watch Penny while I’m on tour. So when I’m away, Penny gets to play with dogs who literally save lives—true canine heroes.
Does she ever travel with you?
So far Penny hasn’t traveled with me, but she might have to soon by popular demand. Everyone wants to meet her!
Tell us about your partnership with PACT for Animals.
PACT for Animals provides free temporary pet foster homes to people who find themselves in emergency situations where they are unable to care for their pets. PACT helps everyone from children in the hospital to members of the military keep their beloved pets, [while also] keeping animals out of the shelter system. How beautiful is that? I help PACT raise awareness of their free services during my live show, TV appearances, and interviews. I also donate $1 of every CD sold to PACT.
What made you decide to pair up with that particular organization?
I attended an animal welfare event about a year ago, and I was struck by the incredible passion that a PACT for Animals representative showed when she talked about the organization. Her enthusiasm was contagious, and I caught the bug! Afterward I realized that PACT wasn’t really all that well known, and to me that was tragic. I thought, the clock is ticking, and every day that goes by means another beloved animal could be unwillingly and unnecessarily surrendered to a shelter. That was not okay with me, and it never will be.
What do you think is the biggest problem facing animals today?
I think there are two, and both of them affect all animals, including us human animals. The first one is the acceptance of euthanizing animals as a way to control the pet population. There has to be another way. Think of the message the acceptance of euthanizing animals sends to our kids. We need to promote love and compassion to the next generation in order to create long-term change.
The second big problem is the dominance of factory farming practices in America. Cows, pigs, and chickens are crammed in small, disease- ridden spaces for their entire lives. I wouldn’t wish these deplorable conditions on any being. On top of that, those diseases go straight to the world’s dinner tables. It’s a crisis for all of us.
What do you still dream of doing?
Here’s what I’ve got planned: I dream of performing to sell-out crowds in arenas, and I’m going to achieve that dream. The more people I can touch through my music, the more I can raise awareness of the plight of animals. I plan to form a foundation that continues funding animal welfare causes long after I’m gone. I want to create brands of pet-related products and services whose proceeds benefit animal causes. This is going to be big. If you love music and animals, you have to join me in this revolution!
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