APe Action: Caring for Animals, People, and the Environment    
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Welcome, caring viewers, to Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants. Today we feature an interview with Jill Gasparac, the vegan co-founder and director of Animals, People & Environment (APe) Action, a non-profit organization that lives by the motto, “Compassion is our Soul, Education is our Mission.” Established in 2007, the California, USA-based group informs the public about the need to respect our animal co-inhabitants and our planet.

I started off in animal rescue, and I realized that there are so many animal rescues out there. And a main portion of the problem is that there is not enough education. People don’t understand that you have to spay or neuter your pet, they don’t understand that the dog can be trained; he doesn’t need to be thrown in the shelter if he’s having an issue. So from there, we snowballed and said we really want to work on education and we didn’t want to just work in animal rescue. So we wanted to do what we’re passionate about, which is just making the world a better place.

So working with animals, people and the environment is where it unfolded. We want people to be more compassionate in what they do, and compassion to animals helps make the world a better place. If you have compassion for animals you might choose not to eat animals, and that’s going to help the environment.

Your choices determine how our world is going to be in the long run, basically. Children soak it up. And they’re like, “Oh, that’s in a hotdog? We don’t want to eat that!” So it’s a place where we want to start with kids, teaching them to be compassionate to animals and compassionate to themselves, thinking about what you’re putting in your body.

APe Action volunteers visit local schools and use documentaries, music and books to help children understand the significance of their dietary choices.

There’s a great book by Ruby Roth, called, “That's Why We Don't Eat Animals.” And we read it to the children, and make them understand that their choices, what they can do today, will help the animals, help the environment, and help their bodies, help themselves. The book is really good. It talks about factory farming. It talks about the bond that the mother cow has with the baby cow.

So all of that helps them learn and understand that animals have feelings too, and they need to be treated humanely. They have a dog at home, but they don’t really think about what’s on their plate. They don’t think that the cow loves her calf. They don’t get that portion of it sometimes. But when they do, it’s an eye opener. They’re like “Whoa,” you know, “that poor baby, that poor mommy.” They don’t want that to happen.

I've had kids at 11 years old say, “I don't want to eat that (meat) anymore." And they ask their mom not to (serve meat), and it depends on the household, depends on the parents and everything too, how that goes.

In addition to teaching school children about compassion for animals, APe Action also runs Sammy’s Place, a sanctuary in California, USA that specializes in rescuing older dogs. Currently there are 19 canine residents at this place of love.

I was seeing so many dogs being put in the shelter that were old. And basically they had given their whole life to this family. And the family at the end puts her in the shelter to let her die. So that's where Sammy's Place came about, wanting to find a place where the dogs can come, be loved, be taken care of so they get a good quality towards the end of their life. It was named after Sammy.

Sammy passed away about a year ago, and he was a dog that I pulled out of the shelter when he was nine. He would have been about 18 when he died. He was just the best dog. I used him for testing with all of my other dogs that came in that had issues, just a balanced dog. And he was a great dog. And just to know that some family had him for eight years and threw him out, it's really heartbreaking. So when he passed away here, I decided I would rather work on that avenue of taking an old dog out and giving him a last day, month, week, sometimes it turns into a year, you never know.

So you brought out one of your dogs from the sanctuary. You said this is Rudolph?

This is Rudolph, but we call him Rudy. We named him Rudolph because he was saved on Christmas Eve, and we thought that was kind of an appropriate little holiday name for him.

So can you tell us his story?

He was in Pasadena Shelter and he was listed at 15 years old. So we got him in and he’s doing well. He’s putting on weight and he had a really bad teeth infection. He only had about six teeth left and they all needed to come out. So he just had surgery and got all of his teeth removed. Then after that bacteria went into his bloodstream from digging all those teeth out. So he needed another emergency surgery. It’s been three weeks now. He’s doing great, happy, happy!

Jill Gasparac is also a professional dog trainer, and when she rescues dogs she trains them thoroughly before placing them in forever, loving homes. Next she tells the story of a recently adopted canine named Saxer.

His name was Saxer, and I had him for at least three years; adorable dog. I mean he was covered in scars; he had never been on a leash. You couldn’t touch him. He was so petrified from everything. And it took him quite a while to get to a place where he’s normal, in a sense. And he just got adopted three weeks ago and I had him for three years. So he’s happy.

This is Bella. I found her in Palm Springs in 2002. She was living in a field for about six weeks. The dog catchers couldn’t catch her out there. I went out there for about three days and earned her trust. I would go visit her every day, feed her food at the same time that I was leaving. And I’d start driving away and said, “Okay, I’m going to be back tomorrow because you know you’re not coming with me yet.” And she’d start crying and running after the car. She didn’t want me to leave.

So eventually I opened up the door. She slowly came in and put her head on my chest and gave me a hug. She’s very smart. So I’ll just show you a little bit of her training and see if she’ll do some tricks. Bella, heel, Bella, heel, Bella, heel. Good girl. Bella, halt. Stay. Bella, down. Good girl. Stay. Stay. Stay. Good girl, come back up. Bella, come back up. Good girl, sit, stay, Bella. Good girl.

That’s the hand signal for "Down.” If I just put my hand straight up, “Come back up.” Good girl! Bella, come. Sit. Oh that’s a good girl. So she likes it, she likes learning everything; it makes her more confident that she knows what I’m asking her to do.

Now we’ll meet Katie, a rescued feral dog who spent her early life surviving on her own.

Yeah, she’s pretty. So I had to trap her, too. I couldn’t get her to come. She was living by a gas station crossing four lanes of traffic every day to get fed by people coming out of the AM/PM.

So I trapped her. And I usually give them as much time as they need. I usually don’t force them. And I was really busy working with other dogs. And she was just living here. And it took me about six months to actually touch her. I finally had time to really work with her. And now she goes to the city with me. She walks on leash goes for walks, goes for hikes.

Although the sanctuary specializes in older dogs, Ms. Gasparac sometimes can’t resist rescuing puppies, as was the case with Lolly and Lionel, who were being dropped off at an animal shelter.

And then I just felt bad that these two were going to have to go into the shelter. So I took them both and they are attached. They are like little buddies. She is super friendly; he is kind of shy, so they take care of each other. They’re like puppies. But they’re both a year old now. But these two I want to be adopted together, just because they’re so bonded. So it’s making it a little bit harder for them to get adopted, just because most people don’t want to take two dogs on at the same time.

But she is just super lovable. She is just a little chunky, little chunky thing. They need a great home, they make great pets. We don’t really like to adopt dogs to homes with children under five, just because we don’t want anything to happen to the dogs with the kids. So they need to be in a home where the kids are a little older or mature so there are no issues with small dogs being with kids.

Sometimes, while waiting for a forever, loving home, the rescued dogs are placed in foster homes, and this sometimes has a surprising outcome.

And a lot of our foster homes, they end up just keeping the dog. They adopt the dog, which is fine. We just lost a foster home. But we got a dog that got a home, so that’s good.

Jill Gasparac, and all the other dedicated volunteers at APe Action, we applaud your gracious efforts to make our world a better place by helping people, animals and the environment co-exist in greater harmony. You are an inspiration and a guiding light for us all, and we wish you great success in all your future, noble endeavors.

For more information on Animals, People & Environment Action please visit

Thank you for your delightful company today on Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants. May all life on Earth be forever treasured and enjoyed.
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