Joe: On this episode of the "CBD University Podcast," we profile another pet rescue shelter who benefited from our Million Dollar CBD Pet Product Giveaway. Hear about the work they do with shelter partners in Florida and throughout the Caribbean. As a part of their rescue, we lead, reach and reform initiatives. This is the "CBD University Podcast," and it starts right now.
I'm Joe Agostinelli host of the "CBD University Podcast." And if this is your first time tuning in, we welcome you to our podcast. We're glad you found us on your podcast platform of choice. If you are a returning listener, welcome back once again to our podcast. Don't forget you can catch full video episodes of the "CBD University Podcast" on the Global Widget YouTube channel and the YouTube channels of our brands Hemp Bombs and Nature's Script.
If you have been following our podcasts along back on episode 62, we featured the story of The Humane Society of Tampa Bay, one of the many area pet shelters or organizations who've benefited from our Million Dollar CBD Pet Product Giveaway earlier this year and at the end of last year.
On this episode, we are joined by Compassion Kind who just work all around the country and has a shelter in Puerto Rico to tell us about it. And I hope I get all these names right. And if you're watching on YouTube, we actually have three guests in studio this time. I welcome Aja Nikiya, along with Valeria De Jesus, and Kim Mniece. Did I get it all right?
Aja: Good. Good.
Joe: Awesome. We've practiced before, but thank you guys for coming in studio. We're excited to show you around today and taking time out of your schedules to join us for the podcast. So there's a lot to get into since you guys do all great work for shelter pets, but first, let's start off with Compassion Kind and Aja. When did you start the shelter and what led you to start in the shelter?
Aja: Sure. We started originally, actually in Africa, was the very beginning roots of Compassion Kind, and it really started as an effort to eliminate suffering. And that's really where the initiatives all stemmed from is where can we find beings that are suffering all throughout the world? And then after Hurricane Maria, we worked a lot heavily in Puerto Rico and we're finding so many animals on the streets, trapped in homes, chained to homes.
So, after that is really where the shelter programs began to kick in. We had such a high volume and we really, at that point, hadn't really been doing animal rescue on that, like, big of a global scale. So that was really the onset of the shelter process for us for Compassion Kind.
Joe: And your work with sheltered pets is really more of a global mission. So tell our listeners and viewers a little more about what you guys do.
Aja: Sure, we work a lot in disaster zones. We do a lot of the triaging once a disaster comes in, you know, whether it's a hurricane, an earthquake, a fire. We do a lot of animal rescue. We also do humanitarian work as well, delivering supplies, helping on the ground with medical, and we also really focus a lot on building staging areas in disaster zones. So staging areas are these sort of mock shelters that we put together that can operate anywhere from two weeks to six months, where we're actually running a shelter whether it's an attended area or a building that we've taken over.
But we also have all of our adoption fostering programs here within the States, mostly based in Florida, and then throughout the Caribbean, and throughout Africa, we also do a lot of humanitarian work. So we've got a clinic that we're building in Malawi right now. We have a lot of afforestation programs, conservation efforts with wild animals, and really just trying to help in any capacity that we can to bring more compassion and less suffering into the world.
Joe: Valeria and Kim, what's it like to be a part of this whole mission?
Valeria: Well, for me is that, when Hurricane Maria hit, like, we met at the airport with the same purpose. And from there we took off. From studying, delivering supplies to people in need, it evolved to the animal thing and then the shelter game and then, "Oh, we have to go to Africa." So pretty much I got like, I don't want to say stuck because I do it with love, but I got to be around for almost four years now.
Joe: And how long have you been with the mission?
Kim: About three years ago. I met Aja, doing a documentary actually. And that was the purpose. And then I just...I also became stuck! So, since then, now I coordinate the foster and adoption programs locally in Tampa Bay. So it really developed and now here I am.
Joe: Yeah, but they use a term like stuck, but we're talking four years and three years, so it's not, like, "Hey, I'm stuck and it's only four months on the road, and I'm gonna go do something else," obviously.
Aja: Yeah, no. Definitely not.
Joe: That had to be a part of what you've made. How did the shelter in Puerto Rico come about, and what are the challenges facing shelter pets in different areas that folks maybe here in Florida may not be familiar with or their local shelter?
Valeria: Oh, boy. There's so much. I think with being that we are global, we do see just a bit of everything and there's so many different cultures, so many different laws in each state, even. So really kind of seeing that firsthand. You know, one example in Louisiana is something that we weren't prepared for is I would say 9 out of 10 of our dogs were all heartworm positive. Heartworm is huge in Louisiana. And there's really not a whole lot of shelters in Lake Charles that are not not-kill shelters. So there's not really a lot of rescue groups in that area. So we wouldn't have, you know, we had no idea of that going into it.
In Puerto Rico, you know, you've got an issue with, every shelter there is a euthanasia shelter. The goal really is just to get the animals off the streets from a, you know, center of disease control-type angle, versus really the welfare of the animals. Now you have wonderful rescue groups, of course, on the ground doing that work and having sanctuaries, but there's really not, like, a physical, you know, animal services that's helping to facilitate animals on the streets and animals that need to be spayed and neutered, and get vaccinated.
So in Puerto Rico, we're dealing with an extremely high volume of strays. Our shelter came about because, from Hurricane Maria, we ended up with so many animals that the mayor of a particular town called Las Piedras, found out about what we were doing. And they had a municipality building that they weren't utilizing at the time.
So, they sort of handed over the keys to a building for us to use and we've become the animal services of the area. So that's really how the shelter started, was because of all the work that we were doing on the ground and the mayor realizing that there was such a big need and an empty building that they really weren't doing much with. So, I think that that's most of the questions.
Joe: Now, do all three of you travel, or...
Valeria: Yes. A lot.
Joe: Was our CBD Pet Product Giveaway, the first time you've used CBD products on pets, and what have some of the results been so far? And feel free, anyone can answer this.
Valeria: It was the most time we've consistently used CBD. We've had a couple of cases that had high anxiety. So we had to opt for CBD, but now we use it more regularly and have that option too. Especially when a pet comes in from Puerto Rico they're just stressed from the traveling, they need to decompress. So being able to offer CBD to them when they arrive has been very helpful for settling them in and getting them used to their new life.
Joe: And what advice would you have for other shelters or even pet owners who may be considering the use of CBD products on their pets? And, you know, something...I mean, you've talked about Puerto Rico. I mean, obviously, these pets have been traveling quite a bit. So, whether it's domestic travel and international travel or taking in a new pet.
Aja: Yeah. I mean, the CBD has been unbelievably helpful for us. You're dealing with, you know, especially in a shelter environment, you've already got very stressed out animals. Some animals do better than others, but in general, a shelter environment is a scary place for most. On top of that, we're dealing with a lot of disaster-zone animals.
So on top of them being in the shelter, they've had a traumatic experience before they've come in. So we've got anxiety, stress, you know, dogs with the shakes, dogs with all kinds of impalements that the CBD is really helping to calm them down, and it also really helps with the foster process, too, because you know, their first few days in a new environment is always a little scary.
So the CBD kind of helps acclimate them into their environment, and really helps the foster and the dog kinda build that relationship on a more grounded, calm sort of playing field than them being so anxious and trying to get used to everything, the yard, the new dog, the crate, everything else going on. So we've used it a lot in those cases, but we've also been using it for our heartworm patients. That's been something, because a lot of our dogs have a ton of energy that are heartworm positive, and you've got to be able to keep them calm, especially after their treatments.
So CBD has been great in keeping those dogs calm for the post 30 days after their injections. And we've also been using it particularly at our shelter in Puerto Rico when we've got, fireworks, holidays, times when it's going to be very stressful for the animals. I mean, in the past, it's really sad to say, but we've lost animals on 4th of July, New Year's Eve.
And, you know, this year we didn't lose anybody.
Kim: First time. [crosstalk 00:10:04].
Aja: Everybody was okay. Yes. I mean, everyone, we started them a week prior, just so that they could all acclimate it to it. And, I mean, it was just amazing. Everybody was fine. We came in the next morning, everyone seemed calm and collected. And so it's really made a big impact for us for sure.
Joe: And as you travel to other shelters and other areas, do you use CBD in other areas in other shelters? And what's the reaction kind of been, you know, even outside of this state or other areas of the country?
Aja: I mean, I think Louisiana for sure was...it was a surprise that, you know, nobody was really using it. And so I think seeing it at that volume and seeing what it could really do, especially for animals that are displaced and coming out of such a tragedy, I think that that was probably one of the ones that sticks out the most to me because it was just so new and nobody really had heard of it, or even heard of using it, you know, on the dogs. It was a little, like, skeptical, but we proved to them, we proved them wrong.
Joe: So we touched on a little bit. What other projects are you guys working on right now, either here in Florida or maybe outside of the state and country?
Aja: The main...I mean, the main outside of Puerto Rico shelter that's always running, our foster adoption program here in Florida. We also have a wild dog project in Tanzania, where we're monitoring and tracking the last pack of wild dogs in Ruaha National Park. And then we've got a clinic that we're building in Malawi, which is probably our biggest undertaking right now.
It's a 2,500-square foot building that will serve an area of 22 villages and over 26,000 people that have not had access to healthcare prior to that. So those are really our biggest programs, I would say, that are in the works right now. And obviously, we're ramping up to be prepared for hurricane season again, and we're always very busy during that. We're pretty much at every single hurricane. Unless there's any overlap we try to send one person or get a different team to head out there, but that's where we're at.
Joe: And if any of our listeners or viewers wanted to learn more about these projects and see if there are ways they can help out, where can they go find more information, you guys on social media and website, all that stuff?
Kim: We are, we have a website it's compassionkind.org, or just search us, just Compassion Kind Foundation on Instagram or Facebook.
Joe: And we'll have those links in the description of this podcast. So you can link directly to those right through the description of this podcast, and keep up the great work you guys do for shelter pets around the country and in Puerto Rico. We'd love to have you guys back on our podcast down the road and follow up on your work, and new projects, maybe as we get through, what will hopefully be a quiet hurricane season?
Aja: I hope, yes.
Joe: We can have you guys back and talk a little bit about the work that you're doing with that.
Aja: Sounds good.
Kim: Thank you.
Joe: Thanks again to my guests from Compassion Kind shelter, Aja, Valeria, and Kim appearing on this episode of the "'CBD University Podcast." And once again, their website, www.compassionkind.org, to learn more about all the great work they are doing for shelter pets and how you can get involved in any of their great causes. And once again, in the description of this episode, you can find their links to their social media networks.
We'll also tag them on the social media copy for this episode. And thank you for tuning in to this episode of the "CBD University Podcast." If you have not yet done so, I invite you to subscribe to our podcast on your podcast platform of choice. You'll get notifications when new episodes are published each week, and you can watch full video episodes of our podcasts on the Global Widget YouTube channel and the YouTube channels of our brands Hemp Bombs and Nature's Script. I'm Joe Agostinelli, the host of the "CBD University Podcast." Thanks for tuning in.
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