Los Angeles pet lovers.
By Lori Golden
From the time he was a little boy growing up in Benton Harbor, Michigan, there were always dogs in Sinbad’s home. “My favorite dog was a Chihuahua named Pancho. He was hit by a car when I was in the third grade. He was my dog of all time. My second favorite dog was a German Shepherd named Sheba, who I got when I was in college at the University of Denver. I had her in my dorm room illegally. I was getting ready to go back home, it was summertime, and I kept her in my room for 3 weeks. I had newspaper all over my dorm room floor. I put her on an airplane and had her undercover trying to get her back to Michigan from Denver. She ended up being my dog from the time I was in College through my time in the Air Force until I was a grown man. And when I was away, she was a protection dog for my mom and dad.”
Raised in a close-knit family with three brothers and two sisters, the dogs weren’t enough for Sinbad. “I wanted a horse when I was 6,” he remembers. “And for Christmas I just KNEW my daddy got me a horse. I went outside in the back thinking he would surprise me, but he said, “there is no horse, guy.” I said, “I know there’s a horse out there!” (I just knew there was going to be a horse.) But daddy kept saying, “there IS NO horse!” And he was right! There was no horse.”
But there is now. In fact, Sinbad has six horses that he finally got 6 or 7 years ago. He also has a couple of pugs, Pugsley and Sheba, a cat named Kitzy, and two rescue dogs, Sony and Mocha. “Mocha and Sony came from David Roe and Pacific Coast Dog Rescue. I used to see them outside a pet store in Woodland Hills. That’s when I saw Mocha and knew I had to take that dog home. She was a beautiful animal. Then we found out Mocha did better when she had a playmate. So we got Sony because she was a hard dog to place.”
Sinbad says that Mocha, a feral hound, is about three. (When I told him I had never heard of a feral hound, he said neither had he, until he went online to look it up.) “Whatever life Mocha had before,” he explains, “she must have been treated real bad. She’s just scared to death of people and doesn’t trust people so much. But you just sit down with her… and you have to walk up on her real slow. She still shakes real bad if she doesn’t know somebody. But a bunch of people came over on the 4th of July and that was the first time she ever walked up to people. She was scared to death at first, but then she got over it.”
“Sony (a Chow mix) is real damaged,” Sinbad says. “Sony runs through the house from room to room when people walk around. All we can do is get her on a leash and sit down with her. She can’t look you in the face, but she’s here.”
Sony and Mocha hang out in a big backyard, “running hard and playing hard. It’s like when I play basketball, when it’s with the big guys, you play rough.” The dogs get along great when they’re in the house with the pugs.” But apparently there was at least one unfortunate incident with a little dog that slipped through the backyard fence to play with the bigger dogs. “When they’re outside in my backyard they’re just playing hard.”
Which brings us back to Pet Orphans and the Pet Spectacular event they held last month at the Staples Center. Sinbad appeared at the event and fell in love with two of the animals available for adoption. “A black cat and a yellow lab. Those are the two I want. I wanted to take the lab and his sister, but after I went home and thought about it, I realized I can’t take two of them at the same time.” But getting the animals has been a lot tougher than he realized.
“It’s amazing to me the number of rescue places for animals. But you know what it has taught me? How fanatical people can be about pets and animals and dogs and cats. Especially the people who take the time to rescue them. That’s an amazing thing because there’s not much money in it at all, and you’ve just got to love these animals to death. And if you’re trying to adopt one of these animals… it’s worse than trying to adopt a child. I know they have to be very strict because people take pets and let them go. But they get me so frustrated.”
Sinbad is still very optimistic that things will work out with Pet Orphans. “I understand they have to be cautious, but I guess they didn’t know my history of me and animals.”
“I’m from Michigan. You go to a place you see in the paper and there are kittens in a box and you go get them.” When I told him about the people who take kittens like that and sell them for research he replied, “I didn’t realize people might take those kittens and sell them to a research lab. That’s so crazy and cruel, man.”
Another thing that’s cruel is teaching animals to fight. “I think anybody who breeds any kind of animal to fight is crazy. Anybody who just raises their animals for the sake of being mean to dogs is wrong. Those people you can’t stop. They are gonna do it. It’s been around since the beginning of time. So all you can try to do is educate people. For people getting a dog, just take care of the animal. Any kind of pet. Take care of it. Love it. And spaying and neutering your dog or cat should be automatic.”
When Sinbad gets a new puppy he makes it a family affair, with everyone taking turns with it. But for many people contemplating adding a dog or cat to their family he offers this advice. “Be a foster parent for a while to see if you really want this pet. A lot of people fall in love with the look and everything… especially a puppy. A puppy is worse than having a baby… it’s a lot of responsibility. Try fostering a dog for 3 or 4 days and find out if you really want this pet. That way you’re not embarrassed and the animal doesn’t suffer if you weren’t ready for it.”
“I think all creatures are put here for a reason. Human beings and creatures. The best way to describe it is… what if the world had no pets? What if there were no animals here? I think there is a mystical bond between humans and animals. Each one of us needs each other. Animals need us and we need animals. I know, for me, animals are very calming. I look at dolphins and horses and dogs. They’re almost like people. They’re not people, but they’re almost like people. I also think they teach young people compassion and caring. And they offer unconditional love. They are just there. ‘Dude, just love me. That’s all I need. Give me some food and love me.’”
As for what Sinbad has learned about Pet Orphans he says, “they’re just a good organization, man. If anybody is thinking of getting a pet, they should check with them.”
After working closely with Pet Orphans and interviewing Sinbad, it’s clear to me that they share the same messages and goals for animals. Pet Orphans Fund, which is one of the oldest and largest privately owned humane shelters in Los Angeles, is initiating an aggressive public relations campaign. With events like the Pet Spectacular and the unveiling of some upcoming “edgy” billboards all over the city, they want to make sure people know their main focus is rescue, adoption, education, and medical programs, including free spaying and neutering at associated vet clinics throughout LA. For more about Pet Orphans, visit their website at www.petorphansfund.org or call 800-400-PETS.
Sinbad’s radio show, Sinbad & Friends with Michelle Visage, can be heard weekdays on Hot 92.3 FM from 6am to 9am. He’ll also be hosting Summer Fest 2002, August 4th at The Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine, with tickets available through Ticketmaster.
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:
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