Carol Erickson of Southern New Jersey is a meteorologist and media personality well known for her love of animals. In the Delaware Valley, she was on was on-air talent for CBS-3 in Philadelphia for 37 years before resigning to pursue her passion of animal advocacy. While at CBS-3, Erickson hosted the popular weekly segment “Ask the Vet” that focused on animal care and adoptions.
During inclement weather, viewers were familiar with Erickson’s signature sign-off where she reminded pet owners “to bring those pets in” and not leave them outside to fend for themselves during extreme conditions. Erickson also authored the children’s book: Not a Used Dog, At All, and continues to use her voice to advocate for animals and adoptions.
She chatted with Dogster about her lifelong love of animals, why animal advocacy is so important to her, and how she became a children’s book author.
Dogster: Tell us why you love dogs:
Carol Erickson: I have always loved dogs and all animals. They are a passion of mine, and it’s just something that is in me. My parents are big animal lovers. So, if there is a DNA for it, I have it. I am concerned about animals because their entire being is, in so many cases, dependent upon them striking up a good bond with a human and in getting into the right house and the right neighborhood.
Why is animal advocacy so important to you?
The care and educating people to do the right things by them and preventing cruelty are key and what needs to happen to make this world safe. We need to get into the 21st century in the care, treatment, and respect that we show animals. The laws need to be strengthened. It is the luck of the draw that very deserving animals are in some terrible locations and terrible houses and with terrible people. If you have adopted an animal as I have, you realize that dog could have gone someplace else and it would’ve been a whole different outcome.
Tell us about your pets.
My dog, Riley, came from the Pennsylvania SPCA. I am not sure what he is. One time, he was on our show on Channel 3 where we had on animals that were up for adoption. I said: “If nobody takes him, I will take him.” Nobody took him, so I did. That was 14 years ago. He’s just a remarkable dog, and he had the right treatment and the right person watching out for him. In addition to Riley, I have horses. I have had other dogs, but Riley’s two brothers died two years ago. So for right now, he is king of the hill and, hopefully, he will be for another 14 years.
You are on the Board of the Pennsylvania SPCA. Tell us about that.
Yes, I am on the board of the Pennsylvania SPCA. Adoptions are key, but we really need so much more. We need to stop breeding. We need to stop the influx of puppies. There just aren’t enough people. Puppy mills have to be stopped. It is cruel and unusual punishment for so many undeserving animals to be born into a world where there aren’t homes for them. The overcrowded shelters and through all of the best efforts of everybody, it’s still not enough because there is such population.
You are a big proponent for shelter animals and adoptions. Why?
Some of the animals in the shelter, don’t show well. They are the ones in the back of the cages, trembling or the ones jumping at the bars. You get them out of there, settle them down, tell them everything is going to be OK, and give them a couple of weeks to breathe, you will have a whole different animal. When these animals get out of these cages, people get to see them for the unique individuals that they are.
How did you come up with the concept of Not a Used Dog, At All?
I always wanted to write a book because we have to start educating and it is time to change. It is going to be easier to change a few minds when they are young, and maybe they will carry the message home. The book has done really well and has several messages: You can make a difference. You can choose the right path to go down. Adopt. Go to pet stores for your beds and toys; don’t buy your animals there. This should be second nature. This book did well. A lot of adults really like it, too. It was a labor of love and harder than I thought. Making the words so that when an adult who reads it, won’t get bored after the first reading and a kid reading it is going to relate to it. I hope for whoever gets to see the book realizes that these shelter animals are truly the designer dogs because there isn’t another one like them in the shelter. They aren’t used dogs. They are brand new to the person who gets them.
Any final thoughts?
Kindness does not cost a penny. Every person needs to stop and think and not just turn their backs. I think that when people start to realize that if they speak up and make positive changes for somebody outside of themselves, they are going to reap the benefits too.
Often what happens is we hear numbers: There are x number of million homeless animals. To people, that almost becomes too overwhelming. But when you show them that one dog, that one cat. That is when all of a sudden, it hits home.