I wanted people to receive what I received from Herve: Cheryl Prater
What do you do for a living?
I was the Information Technology Manager of the government in Las Vegas until I had to medically retire in 2011. After I regained my health, I began doing Dog Rescue. I help run a non-profit thrift boutique store where our profits go to saving local homeless animals. I also foster sick and abused dogs. I bring them back to health and teach them to love again. Then find them their new FURever home. I began acting in 2012 part time but in 2018, I decided to pursue my love of acting full time. I also do wardrobe for film and TV.
Describe what you do?
I help manage Dog Junkie Thrift Boutique store. I pick up donations, go thru donations, send out donations that can’t be used in the store to other rescues or non-profits, price items to sell, work at the store (when not acting or doing wardrobe), host special events to bring awareness to the store, and raise money to help dogs. Within dog rescue, I save Pomeranians from being put down. If sick, I provide all veterinary care until they get healthy. If abused, I teach them the love of a human and how to be a loving dog again. Also, if they are not trained, I teach them basic manners so they are able to find FURever homes. I meet with potential adopters and vet them before placing one of my fosters with them.
What about your typical work week?
If I am not on set, taking an acting class, or in a production meeting. I am taking care of dogs in rescue or at the store working. Feeding, Walking, and spending time with our fosters takes a lot of time so the dogs not placed in foster homes need much more care so they aren’t in a kennel all day.
How did you get started?
I adopted a little abused dog and named him Herve (picture attached). He came into my life right before I became very ill. He was my angel and comfort while my life was being cut short. I could tell him all my fears and he helped me get through the many different treatments. When I was told that nothing was working and I didn’t have much time left, I prayed to God to please give me a second chance. Just me in my bed looking at Herve and praying with tears running down my face. Praying that if he could find it in his love for me to keep me on this earth, I would make a difference. The whole time cuddled up with Herve and him licking my tears. Well, A new doctor and a new experimental treatment came into my life. Here was with me at everyone and even though I got worse, my little love never left my side. Once I started to get well, I realized the love God had sent, was in Herve and I understood my purpose. The unconditional love you receive from a pet is the ultimate gift of love from God. That is why DOG spelled backward is GOD. I wanted people to receive what I received from Herve. The unconditional love every minute of the day, no matter your circumstances. So once I was well, I began calling rescues to see how I could help.
What do you like about what you do?
I love all the love I get from the many dogs I work with. I love picking up a dog that was scheduled to be put down and knowing I just saved it life. I love being able to show a an abused dog that they will never be abused again. I love when a dog that would shake and snap in fear of human touch, now rolls over for a belly rub. I love the look on a dogs face when it finally understands a command and that they did it correctly. I love being able to save a dog from death because a medical bill is to high and no one else will pay to save the dog’s life. I love knowing all of my foster dogs are now in loving homes and living a great life I love getting updates from adoptive parents, thanking me for choosing them to be Mom and Dad of my fosters.
What do you dislike about what I do?
People who throw away their pets like they are a piece of furniture. Seeing dog’s that have been starved, beaten, or neglected. I hate seeing people looking at their dog as something to make money from. I hate seeing the thousands of healthy dog’s and cat’s, I can’t save that are killed in shelters because there is no room and irresponsible pet ownership. I hate busting a puppy mill and seeing a clump of fur and only realizing it’s actually a dog because its eyes opened and moved. I hate hearing someone bought a dog from a puppy store after I just picked up a pure breed dog from a puppy mill that is twisted from untreated broken bones, used only to breed puppies, and has never lived outside of a cage!
What skills are needed to do this?
There are so many things you can do in dog rescue. Walking dogs is the first thing everyone thinks of. It’s very important, don’t get me wrong but it is probably one of the hardest things to do. It really pulls at your heartstrings because you have to put the dog back in the kennel and move on. People who volunteer in animal shelters are heroes in my book. Figure out what you’re good at. For me, I am good at bringing awareness of the pet overpopulation. I personally started by holding events to pick up supplies for the shelters and rescues. Call your friends, neighbors, go to garage sales, and ask if they have old bedding and towels they would like to donate to comfort a homeless dog or cat. You wouldn’t believe the generosity of people if they know it’s going to help an animal. When you go to the grocery store pick up an extra bag of dog or cat food and call a rescue or drop it off at your local shelter. Figure out what you’re good at and start there. You will eventually learn the skills to become a foster mom or helping with animal abuse rescue. Some skills you will never be able to acquire. Like being able to volunteer in a kill shelter. God bless all the Volunteers at the shelters, Y’all have a special place in God’s heart. But the best skill to have is determination. Determination to make a change in the life of just one dog. Trust me once you do, you won’t be able to stop.
What is the most challenging about what you do?
Not being able to go after animal abusers. I have seen the most horrible situations of animal abuse, and it is really hard for me to not say anything when people try to defend the person or situation. Also not bringing home a new homeless dog everyday. I am waiting for my big break so I can buy a ranch with a ton of land and have my own senior rescue sanctuary.
What is the most rewarding?
Bringing a dog back to life and teaching it how to love again. Out of all the rescues and fosters, I’ll never forget Meechi. She was the worst case of abuse I ever saw. It took me weeks to just be able to touch her. But with love and patience she started to trust me and became the loving dog, I knew she could be. Also seeing photos of my adopters showing me previous fosters and how much they love them and can’t imagine their life without them.
What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
What I do is all volunteer. But there are many roles that you can do in dog rescue that could be a career. Working in a shelter or going into animal law. There are now organizations that have paid employees who only deal with Animal issues. Some are your local shelter, Humane Society, Animal Legal Defence Fund, PETA, others could be professional fundraising organizations. Or you could just volunteer on your days offs. There is so much you can do to help the pet overpopulation.
How much time off do you get?
I would like to say I set my own hours but that is not always the case. I go into the store as much as I can and on days that I know I am not acting, I help out with the rescue. However, I can’t tell you how many times I get last minute calls for an animal in need. Every acting project I have worked on, I always get a distress call. People who know me, we all make jokes of which day on set I am going to get that call or if a stray animal shows up on set. Yes, that has happened many times!!! I’ll be out to dinner and receive a call. Even on vacation!!!! There is no time off in Dog Rescue. But that is okay.
What else would you like people to know about your career?
My career is Acting. Acting is what I love and it pays the bills. My job was computers. I was smart enough to be successful at my job so I can now pursue my Acting full time and still follow my purpose of dog rescue. My many years in the corporate world of Computers really taught me a great work ethic and to stand up for what I believe in. I used that knowledge to help guide me in this new chapter of my life. I learned that education is the key to make your career success and with acting just like any other business you need to perfect your craft. I take as many lessons as I can and apply that knowledge to auditions and on set. My business side comes out with directors and producers because they see I understand the concept of being prepared to meet not only my deadlines but have a common knowledge of theirs so my performance doesn’t hinder them at all.
What is a common misconception people have about you?
I have been told I come off as the ICE Queen. But what people don’t realize is that what I have seen in rescue makes me standoffish to a person until I get to know them a little bit. Also on set, I am there to do a job and do the best job I can, so the director and producers know I am an actor who is serious and won’t waste time or money. People don’t realize I will do everything in my power to make you happy if I do consider you a friend. I never tear down my friends and only want the best for them. If you were hungry, I would give you my food. But I am standoffish because I have grown not to trust people. But when I do, I love you for life. My motto is I don’t want my name on a gravestone, I want it on the heart of others.