Chris Roy - The Professionals in Animal Rescue (EP. 13)

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On the show today we welcome Chris Roy, the host of The Professionals in Animal Rescue podcast! This podcast is focused on highlighting the work of different individuals in the field of animal rescue and shining a light on the different roles that rescue operations need. This pursuit was born organically from Chris’ work as a pilot and while carrying out a particular job he started to realize how drawn he felt towards using his flying skills to help animals more directly. This decision then opened up a whole avenue of ideas, the clearest of which was his wonderment at the need for people with every skillset in the animal rescue world. And so he decided to start documenting these stories in the form of a podcast!

Chris’ story and perspective are truly special and inspiring. He has taken a personal exploration and turned it into a cause building vocation through which he is able to learn, share, and celebrate life in many different forms. In our discussion we cover what led to Chris selecting a podcast as his medium, his relationships with the animals he rescues and notably the steps Chris takes to set the mood for a great podcast. These ideas that Chris suggests are absolute gold for any hopeful podcaster out there, so get ready to take some notes!

Key Topics:

• How Chris became involved in animal rescue and started to use his skills in the field. (02:13) • Why Chris chose to use the format of a podcast for his cause. (04:53) • Chris’ experience of the efficacy of the podcast medium. (05:37) • The turning point for Chris committing himself to this cause. (08:01) • What its like to have animals as passengers! (09:52) • Noticeable absences of skills that Chris believes would help in animal rescue. (11:11) • The early lessons Chris learned about putting together a podcast. (15:42) • How these lessons have paid off and led to greater interactions with guests. (21:16) • Using your passion as the basis for cause and action. (25:00) And much more!

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Transcript

[INTRO] 

[0:00:02.6] MP: Hi, Matthew here. Before we get started, I want to apologize. We did have to take a short break here from producing episodes of the podcast and as you might have noticed, we’ve also had to change our name. We are now Causepods, everything you want to know, you can find at causepods.org. Same great show, same great content, same great mission, just a slightly different name. 


Thank you to everybody who has been supporting this effort since the beginning and bear with us as we are definitely going to be ramping up production into 2019. Since we are in the giving season, why don’t you think about heading over to causepods.org and checking out some of the great charity work that’s being done by our hosts. They could certainly use your support. Thanks again for checking out Causepods.


[INTRODUCTION]


[0:00:02.6] MP: Hi and welcome to Causepods. I’m your host, Mathew Passy. Here at Causepods, we have one simple mission, to highlight the amazing folks who are using podcasts as a way to raise awareness for good causes. Whether it’s a non-profit they work with, a charity they support, a social justice campaign they are championing, a medical condition they are battling or someone who is just looking to make a positive impact on their local community, state, country or the world.


These are podcasters with a positive mission. Along with raising awareness for our guest’s favorite cause, we’re also going to see if we can raise some money to support their efforts. So make sure you check out the show notes for each episode at causepods.org to learn more about what they’re doing and how to help them achieve their goals.


[INTERVIEW]


[0:01:27.6] MP: This week on Causepods, we are taking a slightly different direction form anything we have done before and I’m really excited to do that. We are joined by Chris Roy of theanimalrescueprofessionals.org and they have their podcast, The Professionals in Animal Rescue and some exciting news is that they’re going to have two more podcasts coming up in the near future, Animal Shelter of Week and Animal Rescue of the Week. 


Chris, thank you so much for joining us here on Causepods today.


[0:01:50.7] CR: Thanks Matthew for having me, I’m glad to be here. 


[0:01:52.9] MP: Chris, backup just a little bit, tell us a little bit what is your interest obviously animal rescue professionals is, I don’t think we have to clearly define what the cause there is. What is sort of your personal interest in this mission and then what led you into wanting to launch a podcast to sort of help you out with your work there?


[0:02:13.6] CR: Yeah, like a lot of other people, I’ve got my kind of story and journey and one of my hobbies is aviation, I’m a pilot. Back in about 2008, somebody asked me, hey, can you go fly and pickup these dogs for an animal rescue? Being a dog lover, I’m like, awesome, go pickup dogs and I think I’ve got a mission and really I was hooked. I really ended up becoming this volunteer rescue pilot for some of the animal rescues here in Milwaukee where I’m located.


Was doing that quite regularly and as things happen, people start sharing your name and I was getting calls from different people around the country and I’d see people – I’m in Milwaukee, right? I can’t fly to California to Oregon, it just doesn’t work in a single engine plane. That kind of got me going on you know, what needs to happen here, there needs to be a database for this stuff and being an IT guy, I founded a company called doobert.com which is, it’s kind of like a volunteer Uber for rescue animals.


That was great, started going and I started to realize that there really wasn’t a lot of awareness as to all the ways that people could help with animal rescues. People think, when you help an animal or rescue an animal shelter, you got to go to the shelter, you got to clean out the pens and wash towels and stuff like that and I really wanted to kind of spark people’s interest that there’s so much more that you can do regardless of what your background is, regardless of what your skills are.


I’m an IT guy, I’m not a marketer, I’m not an animal welfare seasoned person, I haven’t worked in a shelter but my skills come to the table can actually help with the cause. I decided I really need to do like a podcast or something and had to figure out how to do a podcast first.


Once I did that, I focused on finding people and I call them professionals in animal rescue, people with varying backgrounds and focus areas that are doing things to help animals and my goal is to try and highlight what they do and to really inspire other people to go, “You know what? I never thought as a marketing major or -” I’ve talked to teachers and doctors and lawyers and all these different things.


There’s a role, there’s a way that if animals are your passion, you can get involved and help. I’m excited because for me, it’s obviously animals like you said are my passion and you know, my technology skills are trying to contribute to the cause and so this is a way that I know not everybody knows how to do a podcast that I can kind of help provide that platform and again, raise more awareness to people as to how they can get involved.


[0:04:41.8] MP: I’m curious why as you were growing this organization as your interest is growing, why was it that you gravitated towards the podcast to get the word out and to sort of spread the good will.


[0:04:53.8] CR: Yeah, that’s a really good question, I mean, I found podcast are seemingly less risky for people, a lot of people don’t want to be on video, they don’t want to see their faces out there. But when you tell them it’s an audio only podcast, we’re not going to show your picture and that, they like it, number one and number two, myself, I’ve been getting a lot more into podcasts and listening to a lot of these and you I thought, you know, this would be just a really cool avenue to be able to be on a different type of platform.


Certainly I do blogging and you know, we do posts on Facebook and things like that but to really, to have another medium, another way to reach people, I thought the podcast was a really cool idea. So I did some digging into it and I’m like, “Hey, let’s give it a shot and see what happens.”


[0:05:37.2] MP: Have you found it to be an effective way off getting the word out there like do you think that there are folks who heard the podcast, heard the stories that you were sharing and it became more interested? That might not have found what you’re doing and how you’re trying to help out otherwise.


[0:05:52.0] CR: I do think it reaches a different type of customer. I think as you k now, there’s different generations and different technologies that people use, right? If you want to reach millennials, you focus on Instagram and you know the podcast is going after a niche that I don’t think, there’s really not a lot of animal welfare, animal rescue podcasts out there, there’s a couple but there’s not a ton of them out there, whereas if you were to search podcasts for marketing or pick your favorite business topic or whatever, they’re all there.


To me, there is an underserved niche and I do think that you know, as it continues to grow, we’ve had the Professionals one going a little over a year now and we’re averaging about 1,200 listens per episode which I think is pretty good.


[0:06:34.9] MP: Yeah, that’s fantastic.


[0:06:36.3] CR: Yeah, people must be sharing it or getting some regular listeners and that. I think it provides people, I mean, I don’t anticipate that they listen to every single one but it gives them ways and things to think about and a way to talk to somebody and say, “You know what? I was listening to this podcast today and I was listening to this person that she’s in an attorney and she does this and my friend is an attorney.” And it almost is a conversation starter is the way I look at it.


There’s so many people, myself included, when you are not involved in the animal rescue world, you don’t understand everything that goes on, you don’t understand everything that’s needed. And so by introducing them and saying, wow, there’s attorneys that focus on this both attorneys that do this full time and part time, if somebody’s a passionate, loving, you know, animal enthusiast and they’re an attorney.


I’ve been looking for a way to give back. I’m hoping to inspire them like this is a cause you could look into because there is a need to have attorneys. 


I do think it has an impact because it’s reaching a different set of people than the normal people on animal welfare go after. They’re pretty much focused on Facebook and some of these other social media tools.


[0:07:42.9] MP: Got you. You said you started your pilot and you started doing this a sort of as a job and then you start doing it more and more. Any stories that come to mind, anything that really stands out as far as when this changed for you, when it became more than just a gig.


[0:08:01.0] CR: Yeah, it’s one of those things man, people that have had animals probably would hear me and say, “Yup, he’s right.” You have this connection, these animals are sentient beings and it’s a different kind of connection and for me personally, I have done a number of rescues and I loved it because I’m always looking for an excuse to go flying and I loved animals and there was one particular rescue that I landed and the other people were there to meet me and the let the dog go and he literally like ran right to me.


He knew that I was there to help. He knew where he was going or anything like that but you could just see the gratitude and the love and it really just made me go, “This is my passion, this is why I do this.” I enjoy knowing that I’m making a difference in an animal’s life and I’m also helping people at the same time. 


That’s the bond that really cements me to this is there’s so many people that have different levels of skills and different means of what I do and I look at it as toss my skills in the giant melting pot and what I can do to help. I’ve met so many wonderful people and obviously been a part of saving so many animals. That day when I was looking in that dog’s eyes, I don’t know what it was, he just spoke to me like, “Thank you, thank you for what you’re doing.” And it stuck with me and I’m like, this is what I got to do and I just keep iterating. My wife is like, “All right, you need to slow down, right? Seven days a week.” 


But it’s a passion and when you do something that’s you’re passion, it doesn’t feel like work. I go in to my day job on Mondays and people are like, “How was your weekend?” “Ah it was great, I worked all weekend.” They are like, “That doesn’t sound great.” I’m like, “No. It was awesome, I get to do animal rescue stuff all weekend.” And that’s exciting to me because it’s really what I want to do.


[0:09:46.7] MP: I have to imagine that the pets are probably better passengers than sometimes people are?


[0:09:52.3] CR: Definitely. The puppies, you know, puppies tend to make lots of bodily fluids so there’s always some interesting smells. But the pets, I mean, it’s amazing, you would think that these animals are clawing to get out or anything like that but you know, they’re kind of more curious what’s going on, they follow your commands for the most part and just hop right in, strap them in and they are looking out the window and they’re kind of like, “Where are we going? And what’s next and who do I get to meet?”


It’s just a very different experience once they’re out of the shelter and that’s the cool part is to be able to know that they’re going somewhere better, right? That they’re not going to be an over crowded animal shelter and you know, noisy and things like that. They’re actually going to be with the family.


[0:10:31.8] MP: You started to talk about some of the folks that you know, some of the professionals that you talk to of various backgrounds that you have spoken to and folks who are starting getting recruited, that they didn’t know they could be helpful. 


What are some of the more unique skillsets that are out there that you think have yet to be identified or I don’t want to say spaces, vacancies that need to be filled because I’m sure you can always use more people, you can always use more lawyers, more photographers, more whatever – whatever those roles that you are the probably using on a regular basis.


Are there unique subsets or unique skillsets that some people never thought would be useful that recently you’ve been like you know, we’ve really been searching for blank and maybe that person’s listening today?


[0:11:11.8] CR: Yeah, I think the one that really comes to mind for me is education, is teachers. I think it’s a relatively common thing in a lot of school systems that they’ll have a field trip over to an animal shelter, sometimes they’ll do that as a part of it. And one of the things that I met somebody and talked with her that was really just inspiring to me and going, we need more people like you.


That she took it to another level, she was a teacher, so junior high teacher. And it wasn’t about just going and engaging with the animals and teaching the students, you know, skills on how to teach the animals tricks and things like that. She took it to another level. She kept taking this down that science road to bring the data involved in this, right?


What they did is the started getting DNA swabs, you know you can get pet DNA, cats just like you can get people DNA kits. They would take swabs of some of these animals and then they would send them out and they would get back this analysis and then they would use that analysis with the kids to talk about how could we go about this differently to train this animal or to provide them a different experience, right?


The next time they would go to the shelter, they were using this science and applying it to these animals and what I just saw was so amazing about that was, it wasn’t just teaching respect to animals, it was teaching how animals are a part of our society just like people are. It was teaching that connection. And animals have obviously veterinarians and there’s a whole science in that around that and using this science class to teach them about genomes and teach them about tendencies and behaviors and all these other stuff that kind of comes from DNA.


For me, I go, there are so much that is left yet to be discovered, I think, related to science. I mean, there’s a whole thing about the animal human bond that people have with animals. So I think it’s one of those underserved areas that particularly for the next generation, the children that are coming up now, it would be really cool to see them get inspired and have a much better perspective for the role that animals play in our society.


[0:13:17.6] MP: That’s super cool. I mean, we know that folks who have pets, they tend to be happier, they tend to live longer, they’re usually a little bit more emotionally supported. But yeah, to think about all those other things that could be incorporated into the classroom that could, you know, be used to spark interest in some of these subjects among young kids is just a fantastic thing.


More teachers and I assume there’s really no restrictions as far as where these teachers are. I mean, anywhere in the country, it seems like almost anywhere in the world?


[0:13:47.6] CR: Yeah, I think what’s really interesting for me as I like done a lot of this. It’s expanded my horizons, right? Obviously living in the US, you think about how things work here and the state of the welfare and you ask for as other countries around the world is just amazing how different it is and so to your point, absolutely. Teachers in the US but teachers anywhere. Thinking about how – because the challenges are different. So in the US we’re very focused on companion. Animal rescue has been a challenge for decades, manmade challenge and we’re turning the corner, I think and really making a big impact. Other countries such as India are still struggling. 


They’re a little bit behind in terms of their maturity for how to handle animals and spaying and neutering programs are really the only way to stop the over population. So there’s further for them to go. But the great thing about education is they’re sparking ideas. They’re sparking the next generation. They are sparking the innovation. They get – I mean some of the craziest ideas you get from kids and you go, “That’s brilliant!” How we can help homeless animals. Or help animals in shelters. 


So that’s what’s so cool about it is to me I think about the teachers. They are sparking that thought. They are finding that passion. They are uncovering that. I mean I’ve always had a passion for animals but never really knew it until I uncovered it. And they have the opportunity to spark in those students something that is yet to be discovered and that person could be the one that solves some of these problems and really makes a really big dent on society. 


[0:15:21.2] MP: So for those folks who are hearing this and they are hearing that you didn’t  know anything about podcasting. You taught yourself how to do it, got curious about the technology and went after it, what were some of the early lessons that you learned in producing a podcast that could be valuable for somebody else who is thinking, “You know a podcast might be away from my cause.” To maybe help them avoid some of those early mistakes that we all tend to make. 


[0:15:42.6] CR: Yeah, for sure. I think I made every single one them despite talking to lots of people and trying to research. I think the first thing was to find really what your purpose is and I initially went at it very broad. Like, “Hey, I just want to talk to people on animal rescue”. And I really didn’t have a focus. So it made it difficult in my show to hone the discussion like why are you here and what I’ve learned is that people gravitate towards a particular format. 


So they want to feel comfortable. It’s like you are turning into your favorite TV show, your radio show, your podcast, you are expecting to hear the same consistent type of content every week. And so once I got that in my head and focused it on professionals in animal rescue and really what my goal being to expand and educate people, it changed the types of questions I would ask. So that was definitely the first thing. I think the second thing was to do a better job upfront of laying out an agenda. 


So now we’ve got a really good agenda that we lay out. Try to answer questions, you know I haven’t been interviewed on a lot of podcasts myself and I am pretty comfortable. So it was fine for me and what I found reaching out to new people is that they were very unsure, they have a lot of questions and so what we did is we laid it all out and we had a format that explained the basics, how it would go, what the timing is like that they didn’t need to dress up because we are not going to video it. 


But we had the questions in there, like the outline of the questions that we are going to ask just the prompters as I call it. So that they could understand the types of things we’d ask and any other things that they wanted to add. We did it on a Google Doc so we could share so we would send it ahead of time and say, “Look here is the content, here is the bio, here is our intro, tweak, make it your own.” And then it made it less about me doing the podcast and more about them. 


So while they are being interviewed they felt like there was a part of this. They were excited on the day that we recorded the podcast so like, “This is great, I’m ready. I know what you are going to ask, I know what we’re going to talk about.” And they were pumped up versus if they felt nervous about showing up like, “What is he going to ask me? I don’t know.” So some of those fears are things you can really overcome just by laying it out. 


What’s interesting is if you were to take the podcast that I did and actually take the outlines and go back and overlay them. We don’t go question by question. We really go wherever that interview wants to go. And so we have so much better conversations but it alleviates their fear going, “Oh yeah these are things I know. This is my niche, this is what we do. This is my organization.” And so they felt comfortable talking about it and so it is things like that that I think would really help you to breakdown those barriers. 


The final thing that I guess I would say is technology. You and I were talking about it before the show. It’s like you need redundancy, things like that. You know, I use Skype, we’ve also tried some other services. There’s podcasting services out there but think simplicity. Once you are doing the podcast then you understand what’s going on because you’re doing it. We can make out, right? 


But for the person you are interviewing they don’t and they don’t know what to expect. They don’t know if when you called them if you are already recording. So you want to set their mind at ease like, “Hey, we’re not recording it. Take your time, we’re good.” I suggest to them it’s okay if I ask a question that you don’t like or is an area you don’t want to go down. Just stop and say, “You know what Chris, I don’t want to talk about that,” it’s okay, we’ll edit it after the fact. 


Really do some pre-show interview that sets their mind at ease before you dive into the content. And I found that - I learned this over the last year, a year and a half almost and it’s really just gone a lot smoother every time we record a podcast and we’re going to apply the same thing to the new ones we’re starting in January. 


[0:19:30.7] MP: I don’t know whether or not you consider yourself a professional podcaster having the show or if it’s more of a passion project or a side gig. I mean with plans of launching two more, you probably do. But some of that advice that you just gave is better than things that I have heard from long standing podcast veterans. I mean you having self-taught and learning this as you go and just doing it by instinct really valuable insight you picked up on there. 


And I want to go back to the idea of sending those questions over to folks in advance. It raised a couple of good points that I think are worth highlighting. You know one is giving folks a chance to know what to expect. Take some of their nerves away from it, it makes them more prepared, makes them more comfortable when they get on there but to the fact that you don’t actually follow it as a script. So now you have a more natural sounding conversation. 


What also helps that and what I’m sure you are very good at and what makes this work is that as much as you’re asking questions, you really have to be listening because your guest will say something and if you are not paying attention you might have missed that small little nugget that could have let you down the path of truly interesting and creative insight that wasn’t in your document of questions so to speak. And so I like the fact. 


And then the third thing that it brought up was this idea of ownership that it sort of makes them feel more like a part of the experience as oppose to being a victim of it or being grilled by it or something to that effect. I imagine too that because of that ownership, because they have taken part of it, it also makes them more likely to participate once the episode has been aired and to share it and to promote it on their own and to really be proud of the work and I’m sure that pays off in dividends. 


[0:21:16.9] CR: Yeah, it really does. I think the word that I would say if you are going to be a good podcaster is you need to be humble, right? You’ve got to recognize it is about them, you want to bring out the best in them and the more that you can produce this stuff ahead of time which some people are not afraid to be interviewed. I’ve talked to some people that are very professional, they do this stuff all the time, they’re great. 


I’ve talked to other people that are literary, this is the worst fear of their life, right? Is getting up on stage or talking on a podcast and they get themselves all emotionally wrapped up in that and what’s really nice is when you get them going on that flow and that passion and one of the things I always do even though we have that script up in front of us of the topics is before we get started I say, “Is there anything particular you want us to highlight?” And so I make little highlights in it right in front of you. 


So I make sure that even if they don’t get the conversation to that point, when I as the interviewer, I make sure because it was something that they said was important. And so only two maximum of three things but whether it’s a program, whether it’s a story, whether it is what they’re going to do next, I find that a lot of times they have some big programs that they are going to be rolling out. They have tried to overcome their fear for the people that are afraid to do this to come on the show because they know it is a great opportunity for them. 


So they’re excited but they’re nervous as heck and I am trying to help them through that and then it becomes as you said, a very calm conversation and it’s what’s their passion and why are they doing this and where does this go and the more open ended questions you ask the more it allows them to structure the conversation where you want to take it. 


So as you said if you are listening and they mentioned a dog that they had as a child and you say, “Well tell me a little bit more about that. What was it that inspired you? How did that turn into your career and your passion?” And you just listen to them light up because you can’t see them so you are listening. You can hear it on their voice and their excitement and wanting to share and then as you said, they want to tell the world about it and what’s exciting to me is I feel like – I am like a conductor of an orchestra. 


My job is to bring out the best in them and to highlight their talents. I mean they are the talented ones. My job is just to bring it out focus it on that lime light so people can see what I see and then they are excited to share and then obviously that stimulates more people to want to get involved with rescue. 


[0:23:40.1] MP: That’s incredible and again, you sound like you have been doing broadcast interviews your entire life with the kind of insight that you have gleaned from doing this for just over a year now. But I love that idea of asking them what they want to highlight. Making sure that you find the thing that they are most passionate about. It’s something about when I was in radio all the time I would do an interview and I would ask the questions that I planned in advance. 


Because I didn’t have the capacity to do what you were talking about although it is making me rethink some of my processes going forward. But you know I always ended every interview I ever did, was there anything else that we missed or anything else that you want to talk about and nine times out of 10, the answer would start with, “No, well but maybe…” And then they would go on and give this diatribe. There’s just like whoa, where was this radio going the whole time? 


Like this is what we have been looking for, this is the great stuff. So I think there is some really, really insightful things that not just cause based podcasters but any podcaster can glean from your experience and I think if you haven’t been taking notes, go ahead pause, rewind, go back and write down because I think your process is fantastic, you’re thinking around this, the way you approach the interview, the way you approach your guest. 


The humility that you bring to it is just spot on and really kudos to you for discovering that really on your own it sounds like.


[0:25:00.3] CR: Yeah, well thank you Matt. I appreciate it. I think it’s something – I guess the way I look at it is if you’re trying to do a cause based podcast, you are passionate about something whatever it is, I am passionate about animal rescue but whether it’s homelessness, whatever it is, let you passion come through, through that other person because you are interviewing them because their cause is your cause and your job is to pull that out of them and let it shine because respectfully nobody wants to hear me, right? 


If they want to hear me then we’d do a podcast about Chris but they wanted to hear me ask the questions that are in their mind that - as they are listening to this person talk, well it is almost like I picture them shouting at the radio, “Ask them about that, ask them about that!” Because that is what our job is, the podcaster is to do, is to highlight and take it and really craft what it’s all about to be involved in our cause and that’s what I think will get people’s attention is when they can feel that passion. 


[0:26:00.3] MP: That’s fantastic. Well if you listening at home want to know more about Chris’s passion and what they do, you can check out animalrescueprofessionals.org. There you will learn about that organization and you’ll find links to the podcast and all the different ways to subscribe. We’ll also include that in the show notes to this particular episode. And then if you want to support what Chris’s is doing, flyingdogrescue.com is the 501C3 and the charity that he started. 


As part of this appearance here on Causepods, we will also have a fund raising effort to see if we can raise a little money for Flying Dog Rescue and get the word out there and help folks like Chris give pets all across the country, all around the globe a better home, a better place to be and just create great effort and great experiences for these animals that need it so desperately that can really do a lot of good for their potential owner. 


So Chris, fantastic work that you’re doing. We will keep an eye out on Professionals in Animal Rescue, we will keep an eye out for the upcoming podcast, Animal Shelter of the Week and Animal Rescue of the Week and we just want to thank you so much for joining us here on Causepods today. 


[0:27:08.2] CR: Thank you Matthew. I really appreciate being on the show and I appreciate what you are doing. 


[END OF INTERVIEW]


[0:27:12.8] MP: Thanks for listening to this episode of Causepods. Again, if you’ve been inspired by the work of our guest, please check out the show notes in your podcast app or causepods.org. There you will find links to their work and a special donation link set up to support their favorite efforts. 


From there, you can also follow and subscribe to the show on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast or wherever you enjoy your podcast and remember, if you have a Causepod and want to join me for an interview, please check out Causepods.org and fill out the interview request form. If approved, we’ll schedule you for a chat and share the amazing work that you are doing with the Causepods audience. 


Thanks again and see you next time on Causepods.


[END]