You’d have to be living under a rock to not have heard about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which has moved around the country faster than the Road Runner. It’s tremendous how something so simple and easy has raised awareness and millions of dollars for ALS research — and even dogs are getting involved.
Considering imitation is the kindest form of flattery, it was no surprise when I heard that animal-lover Jill Rappaport of the Today show and NBC Nightly News was doing even more for animals in need by launching Jill Rappaport’s Pies4Paws, which is modeled on the Ice Bucket Challenge. I spoke to her about the operation and how people can get involved.
How did you come up with the idea of Jill Rappaport’s Pies4Paws?
There is not anyone breathing who has not heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge. I remember thinking the moment it caught on that I had to do something similar for animals. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has been an unbelievable situation, and we are so fortunate that it has raised millions for ALS research. It has been miraculous in that it has gotten everyone to come together for such an important cause.
You are a longtime friend to all animals — but why pies?
Right now there are currently 8 million companion animals living in shelters. The situation is very dire, and more needs to be done for these cats and dogs in need of a home. I thought, I have to do something and I’m going to launch a cause for paws. Then I thought, let’s make it a sweet cause for paws! And it became Jill Rappaport’s Pies4Paws.
And what better day to launch it than at the ASPCA’s Adoption Day at the Hamptons Classic Horse Show? Every year I emcee the benefit with the help of Georgina Bloomberg, and I just thought it would be the greatest place to make the announcement. Not only did I announce it, but I took a big fat vanilla cream pie in the face from Georgina!
It sounds like fun for the person getting the pie in the face and also for the person giving them the pie.
Exactly. I don’t know if you have ever gotten a pie in the face, but I think people always wonder what it must be like. It’s quite interesting. First of all the custard went right up my nose, and I have long hair, so it took three hair washings to get it all out, but it was all worth it. I was walking around the Hamptons Horse Classic and for 45 minutes everyone was stopping me to have a photo taken. It was quite fun.
What do you hope to accomplish with Pies4Paws, and who will benefit?
It’s very inclusive; we are raising money and also promoting the adoption of cats, dogs, and horses. That is why this is such a wonderful challenge, as there are two ways people can help — by donating or adopting. The donations are going to the ASPCA.
It is my hope and dream that we can raise even a fraction of what the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has done.
Who was the first person you challenged?
One of my first nominees was Metro, who I call “the retired racehorse who turned into Rembrandt.” Metro was just featured in People Magazine, and he was a story I did on the Today show. He’s become a national sensation and is the perfect example of why this cause is so important.
We all know what happens to retired racehorses, and Ron Krajewski, who rescued Metro, saw that Metro had a lot more life in him.
Ron is a painter, and one day Metro literally took the paintbrush out of Ron’s hand, and Ron thought, “Wow, if he’s going to do that, why don’t I put a canvas in front of him?” And the rest, as they say, is history. Metro paints amazing paintings, which are going for thousands of dollars.
The horse situation is even more dire than that of cats and dogs; a lot of times at three years old they are discarded, when they could go on to live another 25 good years. They could go on to be companion animals, trail animals — some have even gone into the show ring.
How are pets being involved with the Pies4Paws Challenge?
Metro was the first animal to take on the challenge, but I do want to clarify that his pet parent, Ron, didn’t put a pie in Metro’s face. Instead we made him bran mash, his favorite meal, and he ate it out of a bucket. Ron took the pie in the face.
If people want to involve their pets, please do not hit them with a pie in the face! Give them something they will enjoy and do not force it on them. The pie in the face is for the pet owner.
How do people get involved with Pies4Paws?
Once you do the challenge we want you to challenge four other people. There’s no time limit to do the challenge. We want people to just do it and share the results on their social networks, put it up on YouTube, and hopefully we will have the domino effect where it just keeps going.
I just challenged Meredith Vierra and she happily accepted the Pies4Paws Challenge; and Meredith then challenged Matt Lauer, Betty White, and Beth and Howard Stern to step up, too.
Take the pie, donate, and adopt — it’s the perfect trifecta. It’s my hope is that a pie or cake company or grocery store will come on board to donate pies to be used.
Remember, when you make a donation to the ASPCA because of Pies4Paws, make sure to put on the memo line “Jill Rappaport’s Pies4Paws,” and when you go in to adopt a pet, let them know to record it to Pies4Paws.
Next I spoke to Ron Krajewski, Metro’s pet parent.
What was it like doing the Pies4Paws Challenge?
Ron Krajewski: It was a lot of fun. It was kind of a surreal moment, having Jill nominate Metro and me as one of the first people along with Georgina Bloomberg.
I think of Metro as just my buddy who tries to bite me when I give him a bath, so it was nice to be considered and named in the same breath as Georgina.
Who did you nominate to take the Pies4Paws Challenge?
We nominated California Chrome; Doc Morgan, the director of the New Vocation Racehorse Program, where we donate half of the proceeds made by Metro’s paintings; and Susy Flory, who will be writing the book about Metro’s life with me.
As one of the first people to take a pie, what do you hope the future holds for Jill Rappaport’s Pies4Paws?
I hope it really takes off. Seeing what the Ice Bucket Challenge has done for ALS, I can only hope that this takes off the same way. It’s an honor for Metro and me to be one of the first nominated to take the challenge.
Read more about rescue on Dogster:
About the author: Brian Fischler is a standup comedian and writer. He has been seen on The Today Show, published in Maxim Magazine as the Comedian of the Month, and on Top Gear USA on The History Channel. Brian also runs Laugh For Sight, a bicoastal comedy benefit featuring the biggest names in comedy that come together to raise money and awareness for retinal degenerative eye disease research. Connect with Brian on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.