I am an animal lover, and I come from a long line of them. I have a small “pack” of five dogs at my house, and together we’re in this crazy social experiment of “shelter in place” ... Retraining ourselves. Forming habits, breaking habits. Mourning loss, grieving. Adjusting to life and this “new normal.” I feel extremely fortunate to have my family around me and that we are healthy.
Early in this pandemic, my attention was stolen by the plight of Navajo Nation. At the time their reservation was a growing hotspot for COVID-19, and now they are number one in the nation in terms of cases per capita.
I joined forces with Mark Ruffalo and the grass-roots initiative Protect the Sacred to jump into action and get them what they needed, because as a sovereign nation, Navajo people received no federal stimulus and were competing with the four states that surround the reservation for the ever-elusive PPE.
In a Zoom call, Navajo Nation President Johnathan Nez, Vice President Myron Lizer, the attorney general and other top brass gave us a list ... a list of needs. They basically needed EVERYTHING.
Three-quarters of the way down the list, among the thermometers, hand sanitizers and ventilators, was pet food.
I thought of my friend and Dog News publisher Gene Zaphiris and his dogs, his magazine, all the dog shows ... perhaps he would know how to get these pet supplies.
One phone call, he immediately put me in touch with Ann Viklund of Purina. She only had to hear the story of the Navajos’ four-leggers and said she would immediately run it up the proverbial flagpole. About 48 hours later, I was on the phone with Tiffany Gildehaus at Purina. who graciously said YES. The next call included Jeff Springborn from Purina’s plant in Flagstaff, Arizona, which is not far from Navajo Nation.
On May 12, two Arizona Army National Guard trucks were loaded at the Purina plant and headed to the reservation. President Nez and a group of volunteers personally received and delivered this generous and gargantuan-sized donation of dog and cat food.
Above photo and top photo by SSgt Kelly Greenwell and courtesy of U.S. Department of Defense. Joely Fisher photo by Greg Herandez via Wikipedia.
I have since produced two public-service announcements to raise awareness and funds with friends like Ellen Degeneres, Debra Messing, Mark Ruffalo, Andy Garcia, Ricki Lake and many others. It has been an incredible journey. I am so grateful to represent a community dedicated to giving back to underserved Americans.
Thank you to all who have donated. Our pets are so important in these times. They bring us companionship and comfort. They love us unconditionally. Thank you, Purina, for helping us to nourish the souls and bellies of our best friends.
To donate or volunteer to support front-line efforts to combat COVID-19 in Navajo Nation, visit www.protectthesacred.care.
Joely Fisher is an American actress, singer and director. The daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Connie Stevens, she is the author of “Growing Up Fisher: Musings, Memories, and Misadventures.”
“When Joely reached out with this request to support Navajo Nation with a pet food donation, many passionate people in the organization came together to help make it happen," says Ann Viklund of Purina. "Our Flagstaff, Arizona, factory, had been looking for a way to be able to support Navajo Nation, and the stars aligned as this came together. Purina is proud to support Navajo Nation, especially during this difficult time, and special thanks to our Flagstaff factory employees for rallying around this effort.”