Julie Tristan is allergic to dogs. Well, at least she used to be. When she was a child, her pediatrician told her mom to re-home the family dog because of Julie’s allergies and Mama Tristan wasn’t having it. After some exposure, Julie developed an immunity to pet dander and thank goodness, because now she is one of St. Louis’s most active animal welfare advocates.

Mama Tristan is literally my hero.

I’ve known of Julie Tristan for quite some time. She’s a former KSDK reporter and you can now enjoy her spunk and passion for animals on 103.3 KLOU’s morning show, Billy & Julie in the Morning on weekdays, 6 – 10 am. Billy and Julie keep it light and fresh and it’s a fun show to listen to.

I finally got the opportunity to meet her in the summer of 2016 in my role as Marketing Outreach Lead for Strut Your Mutt – St. Louis (y’all, mark your 2017 calendars for September 23.)  She agreed to emcee the event (again) and I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to deliver some Best Friends swag to her.  Julie is as lovely in-person as she is on air and she even gave me a tour of the station. So much fun!

After starting STL Dog Blog, I knew I wanted to interview Julie because she’s in a really powerful position to apply her celebrity status to paws-itively affect the local rescue scene.

Julie’s all over the map with her volunteer adventures. She first became interested in animal rescue as a college student. She couldn’t have a dog of her own, so she volunteered to walk dogs at the local Humane Society and APA. Julie keeps it real to this day and still walks shelter dogs at Stray Rescue and Gateway Pet Guardians. She is even a shelter buddy for GPG shelter dog, Ron Ron, a sweet, playful guy who is holding out to find the right companion. Julie says she likes to buddy up with the more difficult cases. So, she takes Ron Ron for car rides, trips to the park, Starbucks puppaccinos and will even hang out with him at the Slumber Pawty next weekend to raise money and awareness for the important work GPG does. (Follow the link for more information on adopting Ron Ron.)

Julie knew animal rescue was her jam when, as a young reporter at KSDK, she shadowed PJ from Gateway Pet Guardians around East St. Louis. They found a litter of abandoned puppies in a ditch. PJ lamented they couldn’t take the pups because they didn’t have enough foster homes. On a whim, Julie agreed to take one. Well, we all know you can’t just take one. Fast forward to today – Simone is the matriarch of the Tristan pack and Mama Tristan has Simone’s sister, Lulu. Check out the story here!

As a member of the news media, Julie is in a unique position to use her platform to advance awareness of animal rescue.  She emcees rescue events around town, features a Furball of the Week on Billy and Julie in the Morning, freelances for the HEC-TV and interviews other influencers in the animal welfare world like Randy Grim, Jamie Case and Ledy VanKavage. Insert praise emoji.

When I asked Julie her opinion on how the St. Louis area has made progress since her start in rescue work, we discussed what we call The Eyeball Test. Essentially, organizations collect, analyze and report all kinds of data for animal intake and outcomes, but the real proof is on the streets. There just aren’t as many strays out there.

Likewise, when celebrating your big wins, you have examine areas that need improvement. When I asked Julie for her thoughts on this, she identified, quite quickly, Community Outreach. Each organization has a mission to solve a specific and unique set of problems; part of the solution should include a solid outreach program to engage the community in a coordinated, non-judgmental and respectful way. Otherwise, you’re just trying to fix a community’s problems for them. I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment, and I’m excited to be interviewing Natalie Creamer, GPG Outreach Director to learn more about their outreach model.

Julie’s love and passion for animals is clear, but not everyone knows the breadth of her involvement in rescue. She’s my favorite kind of volunteer – she’s a kind and genuine person and does her work purely for altruistic reasons.

Thank you for letting me feature you on STL Dog Blog, Julie! It was a pleasure! Smooches!