Carrie Lippert Gillaspie, Television & Podcast Host
Tuned in. PODCAST. Let's go? Welcome to the community cats podcast I'm your host Stacey Lebron I've been involved helping homeless cats for over twenty years with the Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society the goal of this podcast is to expose you to mazing. People who are improving the lives of cats I hope these interviews will help you learn how you can turn your passion for cats into action today we're speaking with. With Carrie lippert Gillespie Carey is a TV host and podcast host. We think huge passion for helping animals. Last summer she started noticing more and more barn, an outdoor cats in her rural central Wisconsin community. She called a nonprofit that specializes in high volume, low cost, Bay neuter and convince them to bring their mobile unit two warehouse to sterilize all the cats in her neighborhood. Her team and she also raised funds to make their surgeries completely free of charge to the neighbors. The event was such a huge success that is being used as a prototype for six other communities in central Wisconsin to host events, just like that this coming spring and summer. Carry it like to welcome you to the show. Thank you so much for having me on Stacey I am so happy to be here so before we jump into the details on your program and everything that you're doing. How did you become passionate for cats? Well, honestly, I still tell people to this day I'm not a huge cat person, but I am a huge animal person in general, and I'm very passionate about my dogs and I grew up riding horses, and we had a family cat growing up that I loved fluffy, and she lived for a long time, but I was gonNA myself more of a dog person, but as a general whole I'm. I'm just an animal lover, and I I think animals are beautiful creatures I have a connection with animals. I don't know what it is. It's kind of hard to describe, but I just have a lot of empathy towards them in I. Religious Connect with them, and so I don't even know if I would consider myself. A cat person per. Se, but I am just one hundred percent in animal person well. You're clearly passionate about helping the cats in your neighborhood based on your story, so tell me a little bit about. How did you encounter the cats in your neighborhood? And you know, take us through the steps a lot of people. It sounds so. In your bio as to what you should do, but how is it that all came together for you? Yeah, it does sound so obvious, but it's sometimes hard to connect those dots, and so, what happened was last summer. It's about yeah, probably around last summer it took a little bit to get it going. I just kind of was starting to notice more and more outdoor cats, feral cats in my community I live in. In a very rural area in central Wisconsin so outdoor cats are the norm, and there's a lot of farmers in my area, dairy farms or hobby farmers, and they all have cats, and they all enjoy their cats, but from time to time the population gets out of control, and they become annoyed with it, or they become upset, because they can't stop you know the overpopulation and the mass reproduction of them just noticing. Noticing, I was hearing more people kind of complaining about the amount of cats in that I was seeing them as well crossing the road and dodging traffic and things like that, and you know as I, said before I'm just a I'm a huge animal lover. I see something tonight. Here's something and I wanted to do something about it I'm definitely one of those people where I can only talk about the problem for so. So long before I'm like okay, we've established it. Let's move onto the solution. And in this case it's something I was passionate. Enough about that I took matters into my own hands so for me, what that looks like was calling and getting in touch with a nonprofit called the fixes in, and they are low cost, high volume, spay and neuter clinic in. They have a mobile unit that they travel all around Wisconsin and. Cats and dogs, too, but I had actually gotten my barn cat. I have a barn cat that just showed up at my house, and so he claimed me as his own. I'm so. I had gotten my cat. Cedric fixed through my local humane society partners with them to do the low cost fan news for the animals take it in, and so he had gotten fixed by the fixes in anti was just familiar with them through that, and so as soon as I heard rumblings of all the cats I sent them a random email just to their general account. was like basic like Hey, I know that you guys will come to people's houses, you know. They had sand on their site that said if you have thirty or more cats that they would come to your house in fix your entire colony, and so I sent them an email I said look I don't have thirty cats, but I bet between my neighbors and everyone around me. I could get thirty cats at my house. If I organized. You know to have all these people bring their cats in if I handled registration, did all this stuff if I paid for it or got raised the money to pay for it? Would you guys come to my house and offer these surgeries and sterilized these cats in my neighborhood, and I got a response from the woman who runs the fixes end. WHO's the founder? Carla bless her soul, amazing woman, doing amazing work, and I think she was kind of blown away at first that such an idea kind of came to her, and that I was just like. Yeah, I WANNA do this, so she was like. Why don't we get on the phone and talk about this small? And I was like okay, so we got on the phone, and she laid it all out for me and I think she kinda thought she was GonNa Scare me away, but I did the opposite I was like this is awesome. Let's do it, and so we just kinda started planning from there, and that's really how it started. was me sending an email? Saying I'll do this if you'll help me. Let's make this happen and it escalated from there. How did you find them? Did you find them through like posters that you saw or was it the old just googly thing so my bar cat? Cedric was fixed through them. Them through my local humane society, so my local humane society every once in a while when they have space, they will take cats from the community, and you know if that people contact them, and they will have them fixed through the people who fixed their cats that get adopted out so I'm good friends with humane society in my area, obviously because I'm just an animal lover, and so I know them well on I said Hey I had this I have this cabbages showed up at my barn and he's claimed we as his own and I'm starting to feed him, so that means I need to fix him I tell. Tell people! That's my cardinal rule if you feed them, you fix them so I said he's claiming his own, and I need them fixed. And they said we have a lot of cats going down to the fixes in next month. We'll get along so I met the fixes in through my humane society. Basically now I'm going to also talk about about money. Because sometimes, that's the stumbling block you know people will say the two things that are the stumbling block I find when folks come across the situation, and they feel like they just are overwhelmed and they don't know how to take that step forward is either. There's no. No available, affordable, spay neuter services, or there's no money and you know. I hear you say Oh, he reached out to neighbors and we did fundraising. What did that look like in terms of strategy for you? Yes, so for me, it started with assembly in a small team and I say small because I think when you too many people, it can be hard so I had to people. I had my best friend. WHO's really talented in marketing and writing news articles? She works for news outlet and then I also had my mother WHO's really good at nonprofit fundraising. She's done a lot of fundraising in her past. She's GonNa. Honing in on a message delivery, delivering it, so had those people we met once a week for coffee, and we strategized from there, and we kinda just picked off and went through. We racked our brains for local businesses that we thought their customers might resonate with this. Purpose in what we're trying to do. And we went out to them, so we've booked visits. I reached out to you know I pulled every string. Every connection I had, and my family is well known in my parents are well connected, and so they were able to just get in the door, and I just went to these businesses, and just pitched my idea, and I didn't. I didn't get all yeses. I people who thought it was a great idea, but were. Were leery about stepping their toe in this arena, and that was fine. Because you know when you're looking to change a paradigm, sometimes, it takes time and I think a lot of those people who maybe donate I I think they will. This event is really taking off and expanding and they're gonNA want to be in on it because we're changing the culture and were shifting how people are viewing. You know community cats in our area and they're gonNA WANNA. BE A. A part of that so for us, it was just a aligning and finding companies and brands that we could pitch idea to, and we could just get them to hear us out and say look. This is the issue. This is what we want to do to help. And we think your company weather. You sell gasoline to farmers whether you sell feed to farmers whether you are alone, you know a credit union that gives credit to farmers. Those are all businesses that. That are really closely associated with this issue. We're trying to tackle. We're trying to really address in change the environment in the living situation for outdoor barn cap, so we really honed in on those businesses, and we had some great success we funded at fully, and then we also made it an option that people there on the day of the event the surgeries were free, but we put out a bucket, and we said you know by the generosity of XYZ. This event is free, but if you have at your means to give anything and pay it forward for next clinic, we would appreciate that and just by doing that. We raise seven hundred dollars for our next clinic, so it's amazing a lot of these people. They couldn't afford if they're bringing eight cats. They couldn't afford to pay you know. It's forty dollars a cat. They couldn't afford that whole cost, but they could give something in that little bit added up. How many tasks did you do in that? First day we did sixty cats in one day, and is that about the capacity for the mobile vet for the day? That is one hundred percent capacity. Capacity and then some probably, but I mean to ask a few logistical question, so my assumption is at least the mobile vet clinic that Iran. There's not enough faith in the unit to do recovery. Did you do recovery in a secondary location? We did that was part of what Carla went through with me when I I emailed her, and I told her I wanted to do this event, she said okay, but you're gonNA. Need to provide a couple of things for us. One of that, was we. We needed in my clinic was in. November and this is Wisconsin so we needed someplace where we could all be Kinda warm. We didn't have to be you know shorts, but we needed to be able to keep the cats Lama. We needed all of our volunteers to be some comfortable, so and because I live on a farm. We have a number of buildings one of that we call it the man cave, so it's heated. It has a TV in couch, a kitchenette in a bathroom and And I'm like I have the perfect space and I told her about and she's like you're right. That is the perfect space, so we did. Logistically, we needed that. We need you know a space that we could keep temperature controlled. We needed access to water. We needed a bathroom, four volunteers and things like that, but other than that those were the big things. I needed on my part in terms of like providing to them, and we also went a little bit farther and we wanted to provide. Provide a meal for all of our wonderful volunteers and fix in so my parents actually sponsored a meal for everyone as well so those are kind of some of the things. That I had to have in order for her to even think about bringing to my place. I'M GONNA. Take a little step back to you were talking about the outreach within the community asking for their support. Now you're not a five. Oh One C. three organizations. So how were they able to donate to the effort it? It just wasn't a tax deductible donation. No, so they didn't donate to me. They donated to the fixes. which is the low cost high volume spay neuter clinic. The did the surgery, so none of the donations went to me, everyone who donated either donated cash, which is then distributed to the fixes them or if they wanted to write me a check, they wrote it directly to the fixes, and so it was tax deductible. None of it went to me I. Myself Am not a five oh one. One C. Three, but the fixing is, but that's part of that relationship, and developing it with the nonprofit, and oftentimes I will get emails from people saying. Oh, I want to do this, so I need to be a five. Oh, one C. Three, and did you ever think you wanted to be your own five? Oh, one C. Three, or did you just say hey, you know the folks at the fixes in you know I can i. just use your tax ID number so that I can get. Get donations. Yeah, I know that's something I've thought about in the future and I had people ask me that, but I made. I can't do what I'm doing without them so for my own five. Oh One C. Three. All the money that I would raise is going to them anyways, because I need their that services you know, so, that's what I'm pain for essentially so i. mean you don't need reinvent the wheel. You know you don't need to be five. Oh, one C. three to do this. This you just need to partner with with someone the fixes it has been my partner in s you know so I am really just like the boots on the ground for this, but I am pioneering this fourth and what they're doing. I ultimately believe in mission so much in the services they're providing. And I just knew that I had the personality in the connections and the gumption to Kinda. Do the legwork on it, but otherwise they are one hundred percent have been my partners in this. Providing a safe and nurturing environment is every cat caregivers top priority the American Association of Feline. Practitioners, understand your cats natural behaviors and aims to supply you with tips and resources to help you provide the very best care for your cat. Join our cat community by visiting cat friendly dot. COM and you can sign up for our newsletter. This website was designed to be a place where cat caregivers can receive credible and trustworthy information from veterinarians, a variety of topics just for cats learn ways to understand your cats unique characteristics. Characteristics and behaviors how to keep your cat healthy and the importance of routine veterinary care. Did you know that August twenty second is national. Take your cat to the vet day. Make sure you visit cat friendly dot com to find out why it is important to take your cat to the veterinarian for his or her annual checkup. GET TIPS on how to make it a less stressful experience for you and your cat. 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Check it out and sign up for free at www dot, dubar dot com where they make animal rescue simple. So you have done this one project sixty cats. Do you have any estimates? Are you targeting a specific area? And then estimating the number of cats that are going to need assistance I see expanded to? You're GONNA hit six other communities, but in terms of being impassable, you know how much of an impact will that be in the overall community? I'm not sure what the size of the county is the size of the population or what you think, the numbers of cats that are out there that need this kind of assistance. Yeah, so we don't have any hard and fast numbers. You know there's X. amount of cats that. That need fixing that needs sterilization. We don't have any hard and fast numbers on that. We're just trying to I. Guess go into communities and make enough of a difference that these people can tell that they can have healthier ecosystems on farms in terms of the cats that they do have, but we do have a goal. We launched me in the fixes in together. I've been working with them. I've been coming out since I met them through event. They have asked me to come on and to to help them. Turn this into my. That was kind of a prototype that we're taking to other communities. Now Siphon spearheaded getting. Into, other communities I believe in it so much, and so we launched an off. You're familiar, but the two thousand twenty is the Chinese Year of the rat, and so we coined it the year of the cat, so that's kind of our initiatives or the your the cap twenty twenty. We're trying to fix two thousand twenty cats between Spring and summer before you know this kitten kitten season kind of going on kittens season his usually usually. Usually they're a female can have two litters per year. Hopefully, not three here. It kind of depends, but we're having an early spring, so I'm hoping that does leave space for that possibly to happen, so it happens in the spring when the shelters are area are just inundated with kittens and cats were trying to get ahead of some of that here the spring, so that's really our initiative with the cat in two thousand twenty so you. You say that your shelters are inundated i. mean there's some parts of the Midwest? That aren't necessarily super inundated, or as inundated as they may have been in the past with the addition of return to field, programs or trap neuter return programs. Have you seen any evidence of that happening? Yes, OT NRA's huge and I believe wholeheartedly. NTN`er. There's some communities honestly where I am at where I live. The PNR's against you know. City Ordinance and. And it's considered abandoning an animal or things like that, so one of our goals is outreach on TNN are in letting them know that there is a place for this in. It can help some of these efforts, so that is something that we're kind of working on I definitely, believe in tr and believe in the positive that can have in terms of helping the shelters in terms of the shelter that am most familiar with here. To go through all in the winter months you know it calms down and they have less volume of cats, but in the spring come springtime in the summertime. They are at capacity again. It's kind of this roller coaster ride and I was just talking to the shelter manager. That I'm really close with, and she was saying they're gearing up. They're getting ready. They know they're going to be at capacity. It's only a matter of time, so it is a roller coaster. They're not always full, but they will get back up there every year. It happens, so we were chatting before we hit the record button you had mentioned that you are podcast or and. A little bit about your podcasting experience. Yeah I would love to. So I'm a TV host by trade I started in Sports, broadcasting and I started a podcast as well now. I do lifestyle TV hosting in kind of freelance work, but the pack is kind of my creative outlet when I'm on TV I'm I'm talking about things that other people want to talk? Talk about I'm reporting at a game. I'm hosting a program, and so I'm really following guidelines in kind of cultivating a conversation that way. My podcast is my way of cultivating my own conversations on my own time, and it's really fun I get to break I. Really Inspiring people whether it's in their career or just things that they're doing outside of their. Their career I. Just it's a place where I bring on people who have messages have stories to share, and we just share that story. You know I'm a journalist at heart so I I love storytelling, and so that's really what it s called candidly speaking, it's great. It's been a lot of fun I do. Talk about the bachelor every once in a while. While, we just recapped the bachelor finale. Because I do have a little bit of a pop culture. You know, love me from time to time, but for the most part it's just me hanging out with inspiring people and sharing their stories sounds like a lot of fun sounds very exciting. How long have you had it going about a year so excellent and Folks can find it on all of wherever you enjoy listening to podcasts you can't. It's everywhere. That's excellent excellent if folks are interested in finding out more about your podcast or the programs that you're doing in Wisconsin. How would they do that to find out more about me and get in touch with me? You can go to my website. CARRY GILLESPIE DOT com. I have a contact sheet on their anything in this interview has sparked your interest doing what been doing in my community with the. The cats tail at the contact form. They are night with love. Just chat with you. Give you guidance. If this is something that you're looking to do otherwise I'm on instagram. Carey Dot Gillespie I'm on twitter I'm also facebook carry Glaspie I'm in all the places is, and I would love to help you. This is something that you're looking to do so just reach out I'm very friendly I promise. That's great. Else. You'd like to share with our listeners today. I think stacy I just want everyone to get from this interview that I am no one special. I am not you know someone who has spent my whole life doing this? I literally am just an animal lover who saw me to my community and just decided to do something about it, and that's all you need to be. That's all you need to do. A lot of people have been saying. Oh, I don't know how you. You did this I. Wish I could do something like you're doing, but that's the thing stacey they can. Everyone can do something like I'm doing I literally just Scott on my computer and sent an email and it just kind of escalated from there, and all of the beautiful things in our world have started with something simple like that just someone seeing a need and then deciding that they're gonNA. Take that need into their own hands and made a solution for I think that's why. Why people from this, you don't need to be special. You don't have a grand plan. Just lead with your heart and do what you can to help the need in your community to help these cats to do what you can. That's all it takes. That's great. The wonderful thought to have our folks have at the end of the show here. I'm just looking at the numbers and I'm astonished you know here. He started out with helping sixty cats in one year. Then you're going. Going to help two thousand cats I just can't wait to see what you're. GonNa do during years three through five in terms of scaling up in terms of the number of cats you do have the passion for cats and your turning into action, so you embody all of the things that this show is really focused on, so i WanNa thank you and congratulate. You went all the work that you're doing and thank you for helping all of those cats that are in Wisconsin. Thank you so much stacey I really appreciate it I I'm officially a cat person. Look forward to having you on the show again so hopefully maybe in a year or so we'll be able to touch base and hear how things have gone over the last year. I would love that. Thank you for listening to community, cats podcast I really appreciate it. If you would go to items, leave a review of the show. It will help spread the word to help more community cats.