Founder Interview - Hillary Rosen, A Purposeful Rescue
What exactly is a Magical Unicorn? If you ask Hillary Rosen, the founder, president and powerhouse behind A Purposeful Rescue, she will tell you that Magical Unicorns are amazing dogs who, for one reason or another, have simply been overlooked at crowded shelters. At MODERNBEAST, we know this to be true because Beulah Butterbean – MODERNBEAST pack matriarch - is one such Magical Unicorn. And we have Hillary and her pack of superhero APR fosters and volunteers to thank for saving Beulah’s life.
Hillary didn’t find Beulah at the front of a kennel wagging her tail, trying to make eye contact and catch a ride out of the South LA Shelter. Beulah wasn’t even in the kennel area that the public walks through every day. Beulah was back in medical because Beulah was a neglected senior (11+) shepherd mix who had patchy fur, bulging eyes (due to untreated glaucoma) and was sporting a 4 ½ pound tumor (think cantaloupe) on her inner thigh. We know only one woman who would A) make the medical unit the first place she looks for Magical Unicorns and B) look at Beulah in this condition and yell, “WELCOME TO THE FAM BAM!“
We’re thrilled to introduce you to Hillary Rosen who, like us, loves the dogs who aren’t like all the others.
MB: First of all, thank you for doing the interview. We know how incredibly busy you are and this means the world to us. Let’s start at the beginning. Do you think there was anything in your background that prepared you to start A Purposeful Rescue?
HILLARY: Honestly, I think owning my own Dog Care Business prepared me for A Purposeful Rescue. I’ve spent the last 14 years working with dogs, managing a client base and a crew which, oddly enough, is not too different from the way we run APR. I grew up riding horses and loving dogs and I really think my journey just led me smack dab in the door of the old South LA Shelter on 12th street one June Day in 2012!
MB: Many of us dream of doing something big for animals. Was there a moment that made you say, this is it, I’m going to start APR? Was it a slow build? Give us a little history…
HILLARY: Ha! I don’t think I know what “slow build” means. “Slow” doesn’t seem to register with me. I ’m kind of a “go big or go home” type A Personality. I think once I walked into the old South LA Shelter that June Day in 2012 after never being in a shelter in my life I had what I can only describe as a religious experience. Within a month or two I was filing non-profit paperwork. I’ll never forget Charla (who at the time was an ACT at the West LA Shelter) telling me that if I wanted that big black Rottweiler/Pitbull type dog out that I had to do it myself…and I did. I never looked back.
MB: Do you play favorites or have a magical unicorn type? Because, to many of us, APR has a type. Does that come from you?
HILLARY: My Mom said I’ve never met a dog I didn’t like! But definitely cannot play the favorite card. We pull so many amazing creatures! We gravitate towards the tub tub’s, the geriatric, the eyeless or needing to be eyeless, the limbless or needing to be limbless, the broken, and the super shy weirdo dogs who hide and shake or scream at you (those tend to come to my house LOL). I wish I knew where this “type” came from but I think it’s a testament to the group of people we have volunteering for this non-profit. We’re all a bunch of awesome weirdos…just like the dogs we pull!
MB: What is the best part and what is the most challenging part of running A Purposeful Rescue?
HILLARY: There are SO many great parts! The people I get to know - like our amazing volunteers and fosters, shelter staff and volunteers, and other rescue groups we partner with who I can call for advice or to just vent to because they get it! The dogs! These AMAZING unicorns! Getting to watch these hot mess unicorns transform is just the damn best! Of course, there are challenges…like having a full time job on top of running a rescue that is basically like having 5 full time jobs. But it’s so worth it - even on days that I want to throw my phone into traffic or lock myself in a bathroom because some of the stuff we see is just really hard. I think the good outweighs the bad - for me at least - but damn that bad stuff you just cannot unsee sometimes.
MB: We all know that supporters and especially volunteers run the world. Tell us how people can get involved and help with APR.
HILLARY: I always encourage people to do what they can and do what they feel comfortable doing! For example, if you can’t foster or it’s too emotional for you to foster don’t feel pressured to do it! We ask folks what their strengths are and try to use those strengths to the rescue’s benefit whether it’s a graphic designer, a photographer, a transporter, a foster, a grant writer, or a donor! The ways to help are endless! We just try to make it a fun experience for anyone who wants to participate with zero pressure!
MB: What makes you such a great leader?
HILLARY: Funny, I shy away from the word “leader” because I think APR is completely built on teamwork. Obviously, I understand that I am the founder and president but I truly deflect from the word “leader” as much as possible. It makes me uncomfortable because I don’t feel I am deserving of any more credit than others doing as much work as I am (ahem my Rescue Partner extraordinaire Adria Ann Hash). The only leadership credit I will give myself is that I am really good at finding wonderful, dedicated people who truly give a damn about the cause. Oh, and I am a really good delegator!
MB: We live for your Instagram feed. I have personally tracked Cucumber’s de-crusting – joyfully sharing in her remarkable progress. Why do you think social media is so important to APR?
HILLARY: Awww shucks! Thank you for loving our Instagram feed! Cucumber is a new woman!!! Social media - especially Instagram - is hands down the most important outlet for us. It’s a way for us to weave a story-a story about dogs who really need their stories told. The kind of dogs we pull tend to be tough cases and social media is incredibly powerful and such a fabulous way for a story to unfold. Our Instagram fans really become invested in the dogs we pull and really, really start to root for them. It’s pretty amazing, especially when dogs get adopted and start their own accounts for the followers to continue watching their journey.
MB: Do you have any big plans in the works you can share or upcoming events we can support?
HILLARY: We are planning a big “4 Days for Life” initiative around the 4th of July Holiday with LA Animal Services. The plans are still being made but the goal is to really organize this year so we can bring some relief to the shelter staff and offer a ton more assistance to folks wanting to foster through the City to relieve space for the shelter dogs.
A Purposeful Rescue is a remarkable 501(c)3 animal rescue organization. Check them out on Instagram @apurposefulrescue and at apurposefulrescue.org. And then go to an adoption event and get to know the incredible humans working to save the lives and tell the stories of so many magical unicorns. Tell them Beulah sent you!