Los Angeles pet lovers.
By Lori Golden
Alexandra grew up in Connecticut, in the country, with her identical twin sister and younger brother. “We generally had two dogs and always had cats. One indoor cat and 3 barn cats and horses and, at some point, we had cows and chickens. Cats were always my favorites because you could pet them and hold them,” Alexandra says.
These days Alexandra has two cats - Itty (short for Itty Bitty Kitty) and Yoda. Both were pound rescues she inherited from her father who passed away. “I don’t believe in breeding animals. Even though, when I was a kid, our cat did have kittens and that was a really educational thing as a child… the whole mating thing and seeing her prepare for the kittens. And then watching her take care of the babies. In fact, I brought the kittens to Show and Tell in second grade and talked about how kittens were made, which, I think, was a little stunning to the teacher. But when you grow up around animals you learn about the birds and the bees in a very non-judgmental way. But now that I understand the larger problems about how many unwanted animals there are in the world… I’m very concerned about population issues in human beings… I would encourage people to think about the bigger picture, that yes, there’s the beauty in the miracle of birth, but the miracle of life is more important. There are a lot of cats that are already in the world that depend on us for their lives, so I think it’s better to get an animal from the pound rather than to bring a new one into the world.”
“Spaying and neutering is imperative,” she continues. “If anyone cares about animals and wants to know how they can help, they can send money to shelters or organizations to help pay for spaying and neutering. I also really don’t think that buying an animal from a pet store is a good thing. Animals shouldn’t be bought like slaves. I don’t think it’s right to make a profit off an animal. The way they’re treated is horrendous. And they’re bred. There are just too many animals in shelters!”
Alexandra says she’s more an animal rights person than an animal welfare person. “Instead of big cages, I say no cages, in terms of zoos and things. I support Last Chance for Animals, and my father has a building named after him at the Massachussetts SPCA. I inherited my love of animals from my dad.”
Alexandra was a presenter at the Eighteenth Annual Genesis Awards, airing April 25th on Animal Planet. Never having seen her at this gala awards show in the past, I asked her about that experience.
“I did present with my brother, who’s also an animal rights activist, about 8 years ago,” she replies. “It IS my favorite awards show. It’s the only one I’ll go to. I say no to all the other ones because I just don’t enjoy them, but The Genesis Awards is really special. Not only is the food the best food you get at any Hollywood banquet, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a vegetarian, it’s more creative. And that dessert, oh, it’s SO good! It’s an evening where you get educated and entertained because it’s such a beautiful production. But you’re also inspired.”
“I sat next to Dan Noyes, a reporter from San Francisco who had done a series of stories about Foie Gras. Because of his reports they probably are going to ban Foie Gras in that city. That’s amazing. It just gives me chills. I knew about Foie Gras, but then I learned more from Dan. I knew they force-fed the geese, but I didn’t know that they force-fed them one-third of their body weight a day, which, if it was me it would be 40 pounds a day of food. I didn’t know they did it with a canister shooting down into their stomach and sometimes piercing their gullet because they’re trying to do it quickly. I didn’t know that these animals get so fat within just a few weeks. He actually has footage of two geese that can’t move and a rat is eating them. All they’re doing is looking back, seeing there’s a rat eating them and they’re too fat to move. Those are the things I learned. It just makes you want to be more of an activist after going to The Genesis Awards. That’s what awards shows should be, but most of them aren’t. Not to discredit them, but they’re not like The Genesis Awards. It’s a wonderful evening.”
Alexandra Paul has been outspoken about political and social issues since she was a young child. When she was seven-years-old she wrote a letter to President Nixon to express her concerns, and she became a vegetarian at fourteen. Two decades later, she is using her celebrity status to bring attention to world problems. Her activism comes naturally, she explains. “My mother was a raging democrat and my father a raging republican. We were always very aware of issues in our household. They didn’t rage at each other, but my mom voted, recycled, she gave blood and didn’t do it with a lot of fanfare. It was just a part of our life.”
These days Alexandra’s number one concern is to do all she can to help get George Bush out of office. Aware that she had hosted an anti-hunting video, I asked her what she would say to John Kerry, who publicly stated that he enjoys hunting?
“I am going to vote for Kerry, but I am not a Kerry fan. I’m mostly an anti-Bush person. Since he’s the person that’s been put up, and I can’t vote for Nader because I so want Bush out… I’d tell Kerry that being a real man is being loving and compassionate to all human beings, and that it is not at all a manly thing to be able to hunt. Especially with a gun, for crying out loud!”
Alexandra Paul doesn’t just talk the talk. She registers voters every Wednesday night and on Thursday nights “I go to protest the war against Iraq and the administration of Bush. We do this in front of the Westwood Federal Building. It’s a vigil of about a dozen people who have been coming for about a year and a half. It varies of course. It’s gotten as big as 200 people in crisis times. If anyone is wondering what they can do to help make America a more democratic place, they can come to the vigil and get involved with people who feel the same way. It’s from 5-7pm on Wilshire and Sepulveda. All we do is hold signs by the street and pass out flyers. Every Thursday.”
Alexandra has been arrested twice for protesting the Iraq War. “I was sentenced to 6 days in jail for those arrests… in the Downtown Metropolitan Detention Center. The charge was civil disobedience. It was a federal crime and it was a federal jail. I considered what I was doing a continued resistance against the government. I actually had an opportunity to either do community service or pay a fine. My belief system is that community service is done because you want to do it for the community, not because you’re punished… and a fine would just go to the government that I was protesting. Basically the judge had no choice but to send me to jail. I was very prepared for it. The prosecutor wanted me to go for 30 days but the judge only gave me 6. I was fortunate.”
With this interview being for Earth Day, I asked about the fact that neither Kerry nor Bush seem to be addressing environmental issues. “There’s not a lot of talk right now about animal habitats and the welfare of animals,” answers Alexandra, “because I think that people are concerned about the welfare of people. But I connect them all. One thing you can do for the animals and the planet is to make sure that George Bush does not get re-elected… he has no respect for animals, nor does he have respect for the planet, nor does he have respect for anybody who is less fortunate than he is.
Alexandra Paul drives an electric car, recycles, composts, and tries to resist the Buying Urge. She’s extremely concerned that the global human population is growing too fast and believes it’s important to lead a simpler life which includes not buying as much stuff as we’d like. For her wedding her “invitations were done on hemp, her gown contained no silk, the food was vegetarian, the couple made their own rings from panned-gold, and the guests were not permitted to bring gifts to reduce consumption of natural resources.”
“It seems a simple concept in conservation,” Alexandra explains, “but it’s hard to apply to your life. Every once in a while I’ll try going a month without buying anything new, except for food and soap. You have to be clean and fed. At first I panicked, then I realized I didn’t really need anything. I had everything I needed and I felt this huge weight being lifted off of my shoulders that I wouldn’t have to want, yearn or search for anything. We really do have everything. We could live on so much less and we don’t realize it.”
“In the beginning when you make changes in your lifestyle it’s a little uncomfortable, but after a while it becomes habit. Like when I go to a store I make sure I look, and if it’s made by Johnson & Johnson, I don’t buy it because they test on animals. Procter & Gamble, I don’t buy it. They test on animals. Unfortunately there are a lot of hair products I can’t use. I just think, okay, there’s a greater good here. You just have to get used to it. Fashion-wise you give up some stuff, but you gain more back. It just takes a little more effort. I see clothes in magazines and they look so fashionable but I just can’t go out and buy them. And when we furnished our house there were some pieces we wanted to buy but I couldn’t just go to a store and go, yeah, I want all that. We bought used stuff. It just takes a little more effort. It definitely does, but in the end it’s worth it.”
“There are a few things that people can do for the environment that are most important: One is to not drive a car that isn’t practical for most of us. And the second biggest effect that we can have on the environment that’s totally within our control is what we put into our mouths. A vegetarian diet is so much better for the environment and also so much kinder to animals… and I think it just brings better karma. If not cutting out all meat than at least eating less meat at first, with a goal of cutting out all meat. People can also pick up after their dog. That’s for sure. And I really do encourage people to spay and neuter their dogs and cats. I think it’s so important. Overpopulation of any species is not good. Humans, dogs, cats, whatever.”
“Not only do I believe that each of us can make a huge difference just by the little things we do in our own lives to conserve water, to pollute less, to create less waste… I believe that each person who becomes an environmentally aware citizen brings us one step closer to a collective consciousness in our society of how important it is have a healthy ecosystem. I dream that one day, when enough human beings join in the call for clean air, clean water, clean cars, clean energy and open space and natural habitat for all species, governments and corporations will be forced to change their priorities from quantity of money for the few, to quality of life for everyone.”
There is so much more that we spoke about that I would have liked to have included in this article, but space restrictions reared its ugly head. To learn more about this amazing woman who puts her money where her mouth is… visit www.alexandrapaul.com.
(You can see more of Alexandra Paul in A Woman Hunted, currently on Lifetime TV, and Landslide, coming this summer on PAX TV. Weekly she can be seen as the co-host of Earth Talk Today, airing on government access cable channels. An environmental talk show, their guests are a mixture of activists, politicos and actors and have included Chris DeRose from Last Chance from Animals, Julia Butterfly Hill who sat in a tree, Jamie Cromwell, Ed Begley, Jr, Senator Tom Hayden, and the head of the Sierra Club. For more about this environmental talk show visit www.earthtalktoday.tv)
First published in August of 1999, The Pet Press has become THE only local resource for
pet lovers in the Los Angeles area. The mission of The Pet Press is three-fold:
Each issue of The Pet Press contains the following sections: