Rachael Ray: Tireless Animal Advocate, Occasional Dog Food Eater

Celebrity cook Rachael Ray tells us why she is such a strong advocate for animals in need.

Rachael Ray’s star was launched in 2001, with a half-hour show on the Food Network.

Fast-forward a little more than a decade, and now she has not one but three TV shows, including a daytime talk show, bestselling cookbooks, her own lifestyle magazine and a line of pet food products (called Nutrish) created solely for the purpose of raising money for at-risk animals.

She has partnered with the ASPCA for this year’s $100K Challenge, a three-month-long competition among shelters all over the country to increase pet adoptions.

This year, more than $500,000 in prizes are being given away, which means countless animal lives saved. Two paws up!

In this exclusive interview, Rachael talks about her pampered pit bull Isaboo, her dogged charity work and why ignorance makes her unhappy.

Oh, and there’s this — she also confesses that she has actually eaten dog food.

My Interview With Rachael Ray

Your dog, Isaboo, must be one of the most well-fed pooches on the planet. If only we all had a personal cook like you! What kind of stuff do you make for her, and is it the same food you cook for yourself, or is it a dog-friendlier version?

We always make a dog-friendly version of whatever we’re having as a family. So she eats what we eat, but I adapt it so that it’s, you know, not too spicy and not too greasy or whatever.

And whenever she has a burger patty, I put a lot of parsley in it to keep her from eating the plants. If she’s not getting enough greens in her diet, she has a tendency to eat the plants. So that always tells me to add more parsley to her diet.

We like Nutrish, compared with other grocery store brands. Tell us a little about why you decided to put your name on this product.

Nutrish is made to human standards. There’s nothing in that bag I wouldn’t eat myself, and I literally have tried the kibble myself.

It’s very, very high-quality food at a fair price, and it’s a great way [for us] to generate income. It’s the same model we used for our efforts to help kids. We just made dedicated product within each of our product lines and said all of this will generate the money for that.

So it was a great business model and has been very successful for Yum-O!, and I wanted to do that for animals as well because I’m a pit bull owner, and I’m an animal advocate, and my mom has 15 rescue cats of her own!

You give away not just “a portion” of proceeds, but ALL of your proceeds from Nutrish…

Every nickle!

Why did you decide to give it all?

Because that’s why we started selling the dog food. It was a way to generate income for animals in need. I mean, that was always the concept.

That’s awesome to hear. So, Rachael, how do you respond to knee-jerk reactions from people who point to isolated acts of aggression as an excuse to try to ban pit bulls or other specific breeds?

Ignorance always makes me sad.

Can you elaborate on that a little bit?

I mean, I think that people that are pit bull haters don’t understand that you can’t have a human that’s born evil. There’s no such thing as an animal that’s more evil than the next — it’s silly.

If you treat creatures with love and respect, that’s what will reflect back at you. Any dog can be driven to be violent in nature, because, you know, they’ve been mistreated. And I think that my original statement stands.

I feel sad for people that are ignorant about pit bulls or any other animal.

What does it mean to you to be a pet owner, and where does your endless passion for animals come from?

I can’t even put into words how much I love Isaboo and what she brings to my quality of life every day. And that’s why I’m an animal advocate.

Dave Baker

View posts by Dave Baker
Dave Baker, founder and publisher of Petful, is a journalist and editor who has worked at The New York Times and The Nation magazine. He was also part of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize–winning team at The Times-Picayune newspaper of New Orleans. After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, he moved to Brooklyn, New York, where Petful is now based. A longtime advocate for pet food safety, Dave has been passionately tracking pet food recalls for the past 10-plus years, and more than 30,000 pet parents are subscribed to his recall alerts — which often arrive faster than even the recall alerts put out by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Dave holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Clemson University, where he studied journalism and was editor in chief of The Tiger, a student newspaper twice awarded Best in Show during his years there by the Associated Collegiate Press. A passionate animal lover, Dave has cared for a number of dogs, cats and other small pets over the years. Learn more about Dave and the rest of the amazing Petful team here: Meet the Team.


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