You need to have thick skin to be involved in animal rescue. I didn’t realize how tough this cause was going to be. You cannot take anything personally and you can never let your guard down. When I first started out I thought this was going to be easy because I was fighting for the rights of animals and doesn’t everybody want good things to happen for animals? I assumed that people wanted them not to be killed in shelters and for them to have the right to live a life of love and comfort. I was wrong there are a lot of people that do not feel these rights for animals are important so that makes my work harder.
As a part of our series about Stars Making a Social Impact, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Kris Kelly. Kris is an Actress, Animal Activist and Vegan. She worked in film, television and the theatre. Kris found her calling in 2006 and founded The Kris Kelly Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit animal rescue organization.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Kris ! It is a great honor. Our readers would love to learn more about your personal background. What or who inspired you to pursue your career? Can you share the story with us?
I started to volunteer at the Lange Foundation in Beverly Hills. I admired Gillian Lange’s dedication and love for the animals. I thought one day I’m going to open up a rescue organization just like hers and rescue unwanted and needy animals. I also worked with Chris DeRose, he taught me so much about animal rights and how hard I needed to work to give them a voice.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
I remember taking a course about personalities and labeling people A through D. I thought this was crazy why is this important in life? I skipped the class and thought I am a good judge of character and I have no need to know if someones personality is A, B, C, or D. After a month or so of adopting out animals I decided I was going to take that course, because dealing with people especially regarding animals you have to know which personality you are dealing with. I laugh now because I had no idea I was dealing with a C one day and if I knew I would have know how to handle that person.
In our work, we often focus on how one can thrive in three areas, body, mind, and heart. I’d like to flesh this out with you. You are a very busy leader with a demanding schedule. Can you share with our readers any self care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Kindly share a story or an example for each.
I am vegan so my diet helps me stay healthy and sharp. I make sure I get enough sleep. That is so important to me. I am one of those people that needs a lot of sleep. I always have since I’ve been a child. I practice Reiki which keeps me grounded and helps me deal with the darkness I see everyday in animal rescue. I do a lot of praying to God and read his book every week.
Ok super. Let’s now move to the main part of our discussion. How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you are working on right now?
What I do as an animal rescuer is bringing goodness into the world so if I am a success it’s because of the goodness I have brought to the animals with no voice. I continue to help the animals that have no place to go. That have been abandoned in animal shelters or dumped by “owners”. My organization helps with spay and neuter and other medical expenses a person may have. We try to help as much as we can. This is an ongoing problem that we are trying so hard to stop. The overpopulation of animals in California is at an alarming rate and we work everyday to try to help the animals who are being affected by this.
Can you share with us the story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?
I didn’t go to the cause the cause came to me. I started seeing strays on the streets and people abusing animals on the Venice boardwalk and worst of all nobody helping them. I remember asking a police officer to help a dog that was being abused on the boardwalk and he said there was nothing he could do. Also the shelters at that time were not interested in picking up a stray dog or coming out to help an abuse situation. I knew I needed to do something to give these animals a voice. This was a calling to me from God.
Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?
I have to say that there was not one person impacted by my cause but many. When people see what I do and listen to what I say they think about not buying a dog from a breeder and rescuing an animal from a shelter or rescue group. I have convinced many people not to breed their dog and to have that dog spayed or neutered. Animal rescue is not just for animals, when you help a person or family with their animal it brings joy and hope to them. When you educate just one person it spreads because that person spreads the information given to him or her and that impacts even more people.
What are your 5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- I wish someone would have told me how hard I would need to work for the animals. I remember Chris DeRose and I were at a community council meeting in West Hollywood. We were sitting there at 2:00 am still waiting to be heard. I asked him if he had signed up late and is that why we are waiting so long. He smiled and said that I will learn that animal issues are always put on the bottom of the list.
- I wish people had told me when I first started that when you try to make change in the world a darkness will try to stop you. Being an Animal Activist you have to fight for your cause and the darkness that comes back at you is harsh. It can come from all directions and some are surprising. People you think are on your side may turn. I learned a lot about human nature being an Activist.
- I wish someone had told me when I started that getting the City to listen to animal rights was not going to be easy and it’s going to take many years to accomplish what you are striving for. In 2005 I became the Director of Animal Welfare for Beverly Hills and Pacific Palisades and then in 2006 I founded The Kris Kelly Foundation. Little did I know that 15 years later I would still be trying to make change in Los Angeles for the animals. You would think in 15 years the kill rate would be down and there would be more free spay and neuter clinics out there.
- I wish someone would have told me when I first started out that you need to have thick skin to be involved in animal rescue. I didn’t realize how tough this cause was going to be. You cannot take anything personally and you can never let your guard down. When I first started out I thought this was going to be easy because I was fighting for the rights of animals and doesn’t everybody want good things to happen for animals? I assumed that people wanted them not to be killed in shelters and for them to have the right to live a life of love and comfort. I was wrong there are a lot of people that do not feel these rights for animals are important so that makes my work harder.
- I wish someone told me when I first started out that the laws for animals are very hard to change and that there are people in high place in our City that work hard not to have these laws changed. That lobbying wasn’t going to be easy because the law you want to change or amend was for the good of Humanity. I guess the bottom line is I wish someone told me when I first started out that there is no Santa Claus for the animals or myself.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
The movement I would start is to abolish the law of “Animals as Property”. No living being should be able to “own” another living being. If that law was abolished everything would come to a halt regarding animal abuse. Factory farming couldn’t abuse animals anymore, the clothing industry couldn’t harm animals, no more using animals as entertainment…like circuses, animal testing and breeding would stop…the list goes on.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“I rescue animals but really they rescued me”….Kris Kelly
What are the best ways our readers can follow you online?
I am in the process of writing my memoir called “Fame to Fur”. It’s the story of my experience of the lights of Hollywood to the heights of giving back.