Tell us about your dogs Taco and Tyler.
CR: Taco was a homeless dog on the streets of Puerto Rico. I was shooting a film there and feeding the homeless dogs on my days off and found him limping on the side of the road. He was less than a year old then—and that was 16 years ago! I also rescued four other dogs from Puerto Rico and found homes for them with loving families. I’ve been wanting to do a documentary about the homeless “Santos” in Puerto Rico for while now as I’m hopeful that with more awareness there will be better treatment of the dogs there. Taco is my shining example that homeless, skittish dogs with “issues” can make the best, forever grateful, most loving pets you can ever have. My dream is that people always go to their local city shelter first when deciding to get a dog. Loving dogs are killed every day as most shelters simply do not have the space and resources to keep them all. It’s tragic. Tyler is from the South Central LA shelter.

What personality traits do you share with your dogs?
CR: I think they both have a bit of my personality, I suppose. Taco is a true survivor. I left home very young with no financial support and, even harder, not a lot of emotional support. I respect people—and animals!— that have had to survive and prove themselves entirely on their own. Tyler is like me because sometimes all he wants to do is play and honestly only sees the good in people, which I try to do.

Where did you get your big heart for animals?
CR: I did a PETA ad [anti-fur], idolize Jane Goodall and her organization, and do a lot of work for the HSUS and many others. I’ve been involved in animal rights for years. It’s something I’m very passionate about. I’m proud to be the official spokesperson for Operation Blankets of Love (OBOL). They are kind of like the Red Cross for homeless animals. City shelters and rescue groups from all over call them with transportation problems, temperature problems. Studies have shown that a toy or a bed, towel or blanket can actually make an animal more adoptable. I’ve seen OBOL come to the rescue of so many animals!

What have you learned from your pets?
CR: Not to fight back. I’ve seen other dogs get aggressive with Tyler, but he just walks away, doesn’t engage. I try and do the same thing. When people are mean, rude or aggressive with me, I believe in not engaging and simply turning the other cheek.

What is one thing people can do to help animals?
CR: Everyone can do one thing to help animals. I bought some lemonade from some kids and their Mom who were then donating the proceeds to their local animal shelter. How awesome is that? It helps the animals and teaches the children the joy of giving to others in need. Something this society could use a bit more of, you know?

If your dogs could tell us one secret about Charlotte what would it be?
CR: That some of my happiest times are spent simply cuddling with dogs.


>>Go! For more info on Operation Blankets of Love, visit