Whether you know her as “Eve Donovan” on Days of Our Lives, as the tough talking Irish detective on the ever successful cop drama NYPD Blue or as “Judy Fabray” on the hit series Glee, one thing is for sure–Charlotte Ross has been captivating audiences for nearly two decades.
Ross has always been a huge animal activist, gladly using her fame to bring awareness and attention to important animal causes. In addition to being a huge supporter of the Humane Society of the United States, Ross is also widely known for her “I’d rather go naked than wear fur” campaign with PETA, which is now being released on t-shirts available at Urban Outfitters. Most recently Ross teamed up with Operation Blankets of Love, a nonprofit organization that collects, transports and distributes recycled and new pet-related items to comfort stray, sick, neglected and abused homeless animals in shelters, rescue groups, sanctuaries and foster groups. Ross also co-hosted a fundraising event in Los Angeles in November.
FIDO FRIENDLY How did you get involved with Operation Blankets of Love and what is that about?
CHARLOTTE ROSS They really started working right out of their garage with blankets and towels and toys for the shelters. On the surface it sounds maybe not that needed, but the fact is on the cement floors, particularly when its cold, shelters can’t afford to keep these dogs warm all the time. If the dogs have a blankie or a toy, it sounds so simple but it’s true, it can make them more adoptable because they are more comfortable, they are more excited, they have a smile on their face. It can literally save lives. They have grown from there-they have kind of become the red cross of shelter animals.
As an example, when you see a pet hoarder on the news, you wonder what happens after they have been discovered? Operation Blankets of Love comes in, takes them out within an hour of the discovery and cleans them up and tries to find homes for them with different shelters, rescue groups and no-kill. Really, what they are is a 911 service for all the animal organizations out here that are trying to do it on their own. Maybe the organization is smaller and they need crates, blankets and food. And if some of these shelters have an abundance of small dogs-it might be somewhere in the country where a lot of people want small dogs but there are not a lot of small dogs for adoption-so Operation Blankets of Love will pull them from the Los Angeles shelters and then take care of all the travel. There is almost no funding for these city shelters, as you know, which is tragic. So, these are the efforts that make a difference in saving lots of lives.
FF Tell us about your dogs.
CR Both dogs are rescues and I think they are poster dogs on how amazing rescue dogs can be. Both dogs are beautiful. Tyler is a rescue from the South Central Los Angeles shelter, and I rescued Taco from the streets of Puerto Rico. I had three dogs for a long time; the other one, Katy, who was a one-eyed Pekingese just passed away about two years ago at age 18.
FF Did you see many strays in Puerto Rico?
CR Yes, and I have been thinking of doing a documentary for a while about Puerto Rico. You will see dogs dying of mange on the street and its just heart breaking. They should be put out of their misery and/or helped. Every time I’ve gone there I have rescued three to four dogs to people on the set or on the crew or brought them back to Los Angeles and found homes for them here.
FF You sound very passionate about rescue.
CR I am a big believer of rescuing dogs. It’s one of my biggest passions in the world and my two dogs are perfect examples. I am just closing a documentary now on shelters and how important it is to spay and neuter, something I have always been really passionate about. I was really good friends with Gretchen Wyler, who passed away, who ran the Genesis Awards; she was like a surrogate mother to me. She was amazing, a huge Broadway star who then later in life switched to her real passion, which was animal rights. I kind of love that balance of using your celebrity or any type of success in terms of using your name-power to bring awareness to something you are passionate about and that is certainly for me animal rights. Always has been.
FF If you had one day to spend with your pets what would you do?
CR Tyler is a wonderful hiker, and I would love to go on a long walk with him and really challenge him–just him and me. Taco, since he is older now at 14, just likes to be cuddled. Some of my happiest times are very simple, just spending time with my dogs. Either cuddling or seeing how cute and loving they are.
As you know, they are endless givers of love and I think that’s why I love animals so much. They need more basic rights, not crazy stuff, but some basic rights. I get a lot of joy from hanging out with them.
FF What have you learned from your dogs?
CR I have learned from my dogs, a couple of things… If another dog is aggressive towards Tyler, he just turns the other cheek. My point is that he never engages back in a fighting mode, and I would like to always be a person that if negativity is thrown my way, I just turn the other cheek. We all try and work on that because it’s a happier existence in doing so. And the other thing is…not taking everything so seriously.