More: What made you take on this enormous responsibility?
JD: Six years ago, Fergie and I had a dog named Zoe. Shortly after we got Zoe, I got a lot of crap from a producer of mine on Las Vegas who was a big animal lover. She started telling me about adoption and began to educate me about the process. Anyway, after we got Zoe, we knew she needed a little friend, so we went online and found a Dogs and Rescue place. It was there we saw a picture of a dog named Dillon. When we went to meet Dillon, we thought he was so cute, plus he got along great with Zoe. We changed his name to Meatloaf, because not only are we fans of the singer but we thought he looked like a meatloaf.
More: Is that why you got involved with PetSmartCharities.org?
JD: Yes. I wanted to bring awareness to the problem of the overrun shelters and animals that are needlessly euthanized every year. There are about 8 million pets that are put into shelters every year, which breaks my heart. What’s worse is more than half of them are euthanized, and to me that is unacceptable.
More: On another sad note, you recently lost Meatloaf?
JD: Yes. Meatloaf died on April 1.
More: What did Meatloaf teach you?
JD: He taught me what it means to be a pet owner and how enriching it can be. He taught me how much you can learn from these little creatures. I feel the adopted pets have a real appreciation for you because they know what it is like to live in a shelter, live on the streets or be neglected by someone.
More: Sounds as if Meatloaf’s death had a real impact on you.
JD: [Gets choked up.] It was rough. Meatloaf was my little man and was just a really sweet little guy. I remember getting a call on April 1 from a girl who works for me saying Meatloaf was dead. At first I thought it was a cruel April Fools’ joke, but sadly Meatloaf had been suffering from a brain issue. Meatloaf was losing his balance, and he wasn’t coordinated anymore. He couldn’t even walk.
More: Were you given a sick dog?
JD: No. Meatloaf was perfectly normal when we adopted him. However, over the past few years, we began to notice that he was falling over a lot. After a number of tests, we were told his cerebellum was deteriorating, which was causing him to lose his balance. To help him get around, I just carried him everywhere.
More: Because you got attached and were so upset by this loss, would it discourage you from adopting another dog?
JD: No. That is part of the reason you do it. [Gets chocked up.] I have a lot of love to give an animal. I think Meatloaf would have been dead years ago had we not taken him in.
Click here to read Amy Yasbeck on John Ritter’s Death and Being a Widow.
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