Los Angeles pet lovers.
By Nora Fraser
“Adopt homeless animals from shelters. Be a responsible pet owner. Spay and neuter. Don’t wear fur.”
The ubiquitous Barberie can be found camera right of Steve Edwards every weekday morning on LA’s local hit, Good Day LA, as well as on the nationally syndicated version,Good Day Live, which follows. She forecasts the weather, wears belly shirts and pretty much says exactly what’s on her mind.
“I’m so lucky and so blessed that I get to work everyday and people know that my passion is animals.”
You’d think her passion was also work. Besides the two morning shows she co-hosts with Edwards and Dorothy Lucey, she also hosts EX-treme Dating, which will be seen in 100% of the country beginning in June; and she is the weathercaster on the Fox NFL pre-game show with Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long and James Brown, which starts up again in September. Just one of the guys. She’s had guest starring roles on VIP, Mad-TV, Arliss, and most recently,Yes, Dear. She co-hosted with Regis, and radio fans may know her as a popular guest and favorite topic of Howard Stern. Woof! Talk about running the gamut.
“I’ve worked extremely hard to be at this point. I’ve not stopped working since I was fourteen and I’m thirty-six now and really blessed.”
In addition to being “blessed,” Barberie is also “degreed” in Broadcast Journalism from Mohawk College of Applied Art and Technology in Hamilton, Ontario (Canada). In 1992 she landed a job in the news department at the Fox station in Miami where she did live reports on Hurricane Andrew for 48 hours straight.
This is not just another pretty face.
Barberie has always been extremely candid about her personal life on the air and has often spoken about the fact that she was given up for adoption and spent time in the foster care system.
“I think it’s probably why I rescue. I felt a kinship to the animals who were in need.”
Jillian can’t remember the first animal she connected with.
“When I look at photographs of myself, I always had an animal in my lap. I always felt connected to them and felt sorry for them. My heart went out to them. I don’t know if I recognized myself in them or what it was.”
As a little girl Jillian had everything from lizards to rabbits, cats, dogs, and birds.
“It just escalated and now I’m at the point where I’m going to rescue my 10th this weekend. I didn’t get them all at once. They’ve acquired each other.”
Presently, Jillian has 5 cats, 3 - (soon to be 4) -- dogs and a rabbit.
“They all get along great. The dogs and the cats hang out together. The rabbit loves the dogs and the rabbit loves the cats and the cats are afraid of the rabbit.” Sounds workable.
“I always say, give me any feral cat or give me a wild rambunctious dog… I’ll tame any animal.”
Bold statements not withstanding, this lady is a formidable spokesperson for animals. She rails against breeders for profit, pet stores and puppy mills. Fur is another big one.
“I look at Pamela Anderson who works with PETA. I love that she gets out there and says ‘fur is ugly and makes you look fat and looks better on the animal.’ I love that. It’s my message too. Be cool. There are synthetics. It makes me sick that they kill animals and bleach out their fur to dye it ridiculous colors like neon pink, green and yellow when there are synthetic ones to begin with! I grew up in minus 60 degree winters in Canada and you can’t tell me it’s for warmth. It’s never for warmth. It’s always about social status.”
Barberie is building up steam and there’s no stopping her.
“What really makes me angry are women like Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell. They worked for PETA and then they turned around and went, ‘oh yeah, that was just a phase,’ and then they went back to wearing and modeling fur. I have a problem with that.”
With so many issues to be passionate about and so many charities knocking at her door, why did Jillian settle on Last Chance for Animals?
“It took me a long time to figure out who I wanted to work with. I read Chris DeRose’s book and I said, that’s it. Bingo. Bam. I knew right away. It’s just a right fit.”
Chris DeRose’s book, In Your Face, chronicles his transition from actor to activist as he goes undercover to expose unspeakable cruelties to laboratory animals. Last Chance for Animals has its roots in fighting and exposing the inherent cruelty of vivisection.
With an increased budget and staff, LCA expanded its focus beyond vivisection. In the 1980s and 1990s, LCA worked on virtually every animal rights issue, including farming, fur and animals in entertainment.
Last Chance for Animals opposes the use of animals for scientific curiosity, entertainment,
clothing, and food. They recognize the use of non-human animals in medical experimentation as both immoral and of questionable scientific validity due to the tremendous biological difference between species. LCA’s work advocates conscious and informed lifestyle decisions, and they are committed to disseminating truthful information about societal animal abuse to improve the treatment of animals.
One new way they intend to accomplish that end is with their new Animal News Van. The idea is to take the message to the people with video being the perfect medium. The ANV is a cargo van with two 42” plasma television screens on either side. In addition, there are two message boards mounted on the extended roof of the van, and an audio system.
Jillian Barberie is going to launch the new PR campaign for the van on her show in June.
“We’ll get the word out that the van is out there. It’s to educate. They’re going to take the van to events, concerts, festivals, and schools. If you can educate kids, they grow up with respect - which leads to the proper treatment of animals.”
LCA maintains an extensive library and an onsite editing system to create the van’s videos.
Jillian is very excited about working with Last Chance for Animals. “My support is such that I would love to be involved with campaigns. Any posters. Any promotion that they need. And financially. of course, as well. My support goes beyond word-of-mouth on our show. I want to be involved as much as I can. I love being the spokesperson.”
I wondered if Jillian has ever taken any slack for her unmitigated devotion to animals.
“One time Dorothy Lucey said something like, ‘You know how people who love animals are viewed?’ And I said, ‘No I don’t.’ And she said, ‘Well, there’s a saying that people who love animals don’t like people.’ And I said, ‘Oh, that’s interesting. I just assumed that people who like animals are compassionate people who want to have a voice for those who don’t have a voice.’”
“I’d never heard that until she said that,” Jillian continues. “I love other people and kids. I just don’t want any of my own kids! Ha! (that maniacal trademark laugh) I think it’s my own personal stuff.”
Meanwhile Barberie has parlayed her show into a vehicle through which thousands of homeless pets have been saved. She started the Pet Adoption segment 6 years ago on FOX.
“When it started off we were just working once a week with spcaLA. Then we began getting calls from other agencies and rescue organizations.”
Jillian took the issue “upstairs” and got the popular segment moved up to 5 times a week. They began working with other organizations like the Amanda Foundation, Pacific Coast Dog Rescue and New Leash on Life, among others. These organizations, according to Barberie, meticulously screen all pet adoption applicants to make sure the animals go to the best homes. Because of Jillian and the “adopt-a-pet” segments, the Fox 10:00 pm news has the segment as well.
Still, Barberie wants to do more.
“There are times when I get frustrated. I’ve been asked byPlayboy three times to pose and I’ve said ‘no’ every time. And then I talked to Chris DeRose and I said, ‘Although wouldn’t it be great to pose and give the money to Last Chance for Animals?’ It would be about $250,000. That’s a lot of money! But I worked too hard at my career on the merits of a journalism degree and my smarts to go and do something so counterproductive. It’s a real conundrum because you think of all the positive things you could do with that money… however, you also think, what kind of message does that send young girls? ‘Oh, you’re pretty. Take off your clothes.’ I’ve worked too hard for that.”
Jillian Barberie, who also works with foster kids, is giving young girls another message. And that is that life is about something. Giving a damn is as hip as hip huggers and stiletto heels.
All the while she remains steadfastly grateful.
“Gosh, who would have thought that I’d be able to talk about my passions and people would care! And to have a forum every day. It’s the best!!”
You go, girl!
(You can catch Jillian Barberie Monday thru Friday from 5:30 am – 9 am on KTTV Fox 11’s Good Day LA, followed by another hour on Good Day Live.)
(Nora Fraser is an Emmy-award winning producer and mother of 3 humans, 2 furballs, and one fleabag.)
First published in August of 1999, The Pet Press has become THE only local resource for
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