Welcome to, not only the August 2012 Cool Cause here at Urb’l Remedy, but the inaugural one as well! It’s brought to you by way of Janid aka La Diva Electronica and her passion for animals. Janid is representing Ayudando Animales (which translates to Helping Animals in English) in Puerto Rico.
For those who don’t know, Janid is an electronic artist who was based in NYC for many years and recently relocated to Puerto Rico. She has four releases under her belt that span Latin, R&B, pop, and dance influences. She released her latest (and first Spanish) project, Más Allá de Andrómeda, last month. She is also one of the artists featured in Arthur Hanlon’s Encanto del Caribe, that just debuted on PBS Sacramento on Saturday and will continue to air on PBS stations throughout the country. Click here or check your local listings to find out when it will air in your area. Find out more about Janid, her latest release, and this PBS special at her official site.
Now, let’s get on to her interview about Ayudando Animales below! Thanks to Janid not only for being so candid and forthcoming, but also for helping kick off the Cool Cause feature.
Urb’l Remedy: Tell us about Ayudando Animales.
Janid: Ayudando Animales is a local organization in Puerto Rico that focuses on rescuing stray, lost, abandoned, and abused animals and finding them foster homes and forever homes. It is one of a handful of local organizations that work tirelessly to help with Puerto Rico’s stray dog issue. Puerto Rico has more than 100,000 stray dogs! We have a severe problem on our island that can only be resolved by spaying and neutering dogs and by encouraging people to adopt instead of buy pets.
Ayudando Animales works tirelessly to raise awareness about this issue and to find homes for stray animals that are left for dead and would, otherwise, be euthanized. Their efforts are supported by individual donations which are used to cover food, veterinary care, and sterilization.
Urb’l Remedy: PETA is a much more known national organization for animal lovers. How does the mission and work of PETA in the States differ from and/or complement the mission and work of Ayundando Animales in Puerto Rico?
Janid: PETA, which I am a member of also, focuses on raising awareness and stopping animal cruelty in factory farms, clothing trade, labs, and in the entertainment industry. They work through public education, cruelty investigations, research, animal rescue, legislation, special events, celebrity involvement, and protest campaigns.
Ayudando Animales, on the other hand, focuses on animal rescue and finding homes for stray, abused, and abandoned animals. Ayudando Animales will also spread the word on any issues related to animals, whether they are initiated by PETA or not, but at a more local level. They serve as a platform to disseminate information and reach additional people who otherwise would not find out about petitions, news, and initiatives regarding animals. Ayudando Animales’ efforts are more grassroots and rely heavily on social media and word-of-mouth [marketing].
Urb’l Remedy: Why is this organization important to you?
Janid: Ayudando Animales has a special place in my heart because they have been there for me when I’ve needed help rescuing animals. I once found a wounded Red-tailed Hawk, an endangered species, in my backyard and Ayudando Animales and its online community quickly helped me find the best and safest way to save the bird. They provided contacts and emergency protocols to follow during these types of situations. They were there for me every step of the way and even celebrated with me once the hawk was rescued.
Additionally, they do an incredible job mobilizing the online community to find homes for stray, abused, and abandoned animals. It is a job that is tiring, nonstop; it takes a lot of effort and resources. Yet, they do it with passion and love for these animals that deserve a second chance at life, at being loved, and at living in a safe environment.
Urb’l Remedy: What do you do personally to work with Ayudando Animales?
Janid: What I do to help Ayudando Animales, whether it’s raising awareness, educating, volunteering, or making a financial contribution is nowhere as significant as what they do on their end. If it wasn’t for them, the animals they advocate for would never have a chance. All I can do is be another advocate and hope that people will be compassionate enough to help an animal that needs a home, medical assistance, or that may be lost.
Urb’l Remedy: You self-identify as an activist and support more than just this cause. What does being an activist mean to you and what are a few of the other causes you are passionate about and support?
Janid: Being an activist, by definition, is being a vigorous advocate of a cause. If you are passionate about something and you want to create change and make a difference you can’t just sit there and talk about it over tea and biscuits. You have to get out there, fight, make your voice be heard, be fearless, and stand up for what you believe in no matter what.
Besides animals, I am also passionate about literacy and have worked with Soar with Reading, an award-winning program and joint project with JetBlue and PBS, designed to excite and inspire kids’ imaginations to take flight through reading.
Additionally, I am passionate about finding a cure for endometriosis*, which is a condition I have suffered from since I was 16. I am currently participating in the Violet Petal Study, an experimental project to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of an investigational medication for the treatment of endometriosis.
Janid with one of her dogs, Alpha.
Urb’l Remedy: You must have pets. Tell us their names and one interesting or quirky thing about each of them.
Janid: I have three dogs! A 10-year-old Maltese, named Gypsy; a 9-month-old dinosaur, sorry, Rottweiler, named Alpha. And I just adopted a 2-month-old Puerto Rican Terrier (a mutt!) and named her Lunnazol.
Gypsy is a total diva. She likes people more than other dogs. I bought her at a pet shop at a time when I didn’t know any better and I was not aware that adoption was a better choice.
Alpha is a giant, clumsy ball of love. He was rescued from a so-called breeder who didn’t deworm the puppies and left them to die. He was very ill had to have a blood transfusion. The hospital thought he wouldn’t make it and here he is…strong, loving, and even grateful for having a second chance at life. He loves car rides and playing with soap bubbles.
Lunnazol was found in the bushes of an abandoned house and she was very shy and fearful. She was traumatized and abused. I was convinced I could fix that with a lot of love and care and I was aware it could take months to improve her behavior or maybe it never would. However, only a couple of days later she has blossomed into a curious, playful, friendly puppy. They are all spoiled brats and it’s my entire fault.
Urb’l Remedy: What can musicians and people in the industry in Puerto Rico do to support this cause?
Janid: First of all, I would advise my peers to speak up for animals only if they are passionate about it. They shouldn’t do it to get attention or publicity. However, if the concern is genuine, there are many ways to get involved and make a difference. And this applies to anyone, not just people in the music industry.
You can start in your own community. Are there any stray, abandoned, or abused animals in your neighborhood? Can you feed them? Can you take at least one to the Humane Society and get them sterilized? Can you find them a home? Reach out to an organization like Ayudando Animales to get more people involved. There’s strength in numbers. One person alone cannot put an end to this problem we have on the island. Fans are also a great resource and they are always willing to help their favorite artists with a cause they are passionate about.
Urb’l Remedy: What can regular music fans in Puerto Rico do? Is there anything those of us not living there can do?
Janid: Same thing. Get out there. See what’s happening in your neighborhood. Help out. Branch out. Recruit others to help you. Even people who don’t live here can help! There are other organizations such as the Sato Project which place rescued dogs in adoptive homes in the continental US. You can sponsor a dog’s sterilization, medical treatment, or make a donation to feed an animal in need.
Urb’l Remedy: What does the combination of music and charitable giving mean to you? Why so passionate about it?
Janid: Music is the universal language of love and charitable giving is spreading love. Love brings people and nations together; it is healing and it is powerful. It brings us closer to peace for mankind. Why wouldn’t you be passionate about that?
Urb’l Remedy: Any last words regarding Ayudando Animales, animals, or Puerto Rico?
Janid: Ayudando Animales is an example of how humans can create change by coming together and helping one another to help animals in need. Mahatma Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” If parents would take the time to teach their children to love animals, they would probably treat other human beings with kindness and compassion.
If you’re passionate about a cause, educate yourself. Don’t live in a bubble. Do research; find out how you can help. I encourage everyone to learn more about the stray dog problem in Puerto Rico. There is an outstanding, Emmy-winning documentary called 100,000 about the overpopulation of stray dogs in Puerto Rico and how to solve the problem. You can watch it free online. Last, but not least, after watching this movie, I made a pledge and I would love for others to pledge as well:
“To decrease the overpopulation problem and promote the proper care of dogs, I pledge to:
Ayundando Animales: official site, Facebook, and Twitter
The Sato Project: official site and Facebook
*Editor’s Note: Endometriosis is a female health disorder that occurs when cells from the lining of the womb (uterus) grow in other areas of the body. This can lead to pain, irregular bleeding, and problems getting pregnant (infertility).