Although we heavily condone adopting over shopping for pups 365 days of the year, the month of October happens to be Adopt A Dog month. To celebrate, we caught up with Queer Eye star, Karamo Brown, to discuss how rescue pups have changed his life, his plans to incorporate #AdoptDontShop into Queer Eye Season 6, and his recent partnership with Febreze, which will donate to North Shore Animal League America, one of the biggest no-kill shelters across the country.
"I worked in social services before, and it was the same thing when I worked with kids who were just looking for loving homes — they were just rays of light," he says. "It’s one of those things where you’re always thinking like, shiny and new is better. But like, there’s something about a shelter dog that just wants to give you unconditional love, and who wants that love back."
Karamo tells us that rescue dogs hold a particularly special place in his heart.
The #AdoptDontShop movement only gained popularity within the last few years, but Karamo tells us that he grew up with rescue dogs because his father often took home stray dogs who hung around his workplace. This fueled Karamo's love for rescuing stray pups at an early age, as well as his inclination to adopt fur babies who are looking for homes. Talking about it clearly made him feel nostalgic.
"It’d be like a dog would hang around [my dad's] job or something," he explains.
"The last dog we had [as a family] we named Pooch Mon, because we’re Jamaican, and in Jamaican, 'pooch' is a dog, so we named this dog Pooch Mon. Ironic and funny story — I had it for about two years and all of a sudden, it gave birth and I was so young and confused how 'Pooch Mon' that I thought was a male dog gave birth!" Karamo laughs.
Despite the shock, this inspired him to continue rescuing pups.
"I still love dogs, I’ve always had shelter dogs... I’ve rescued and adopted two dogs now... This month is Adopt a Dog Month, which is really important because dogs are just lovable creatures, and they really affect your mental health and your self esteem when you’re just feeling down. To have an entity there that is going to love you, and be there with you, and just always be happy to see you... it’s amazing," he says.
And while senior dogs are often overlooked by potential pet owners, Karamo says he's particularly drawn to them.
"I’m all about a senior dog now. I’m about to be 40 in a couple of days, and I’m all about a low-temperament dog that just wants to cuddle, and wants to hang out. I don’t want a dog that wants to go hiking everyday... sorry we can’t do it!" he jokes.
Karamo says he's trying to further incorporate shelter dogs and the #AdoptDontShop message into 'Queer Eye.'
You may recall Queer Eye featured a dog groomer on the series during Season 5, however, Karamo tells us that he wants to have a completely animal-centric episode. The reality star explains that he has a vision to potentially bring a shelter dog owner on the series, to further advocate for rescuing shelter dogs.
"I’m a dog lover, Jonathan is a big animal lover, and Antoni is a big corgi lover. Tan and Bobby were two that were like kind of on the fence, but now Bobby's gotten a dog," he says. "When we get back to Queer Eye — we’re gonna go back to film in the new year, and literally — I want to do a dog episode because we’re all in love with dogs and animals so I’m hoping we can do that."
"We kind of got it a little bit with our dog groomer, she was so amazing, but we didn’t really get to spend time with the dogs. I was conducting couple’s therapy, and Antoni was cooking doggie treats, but none of us really got to be with the dogs, per se. So I would love it if we went to a shelter, and helped someone who helps rescue dogs or something. That would be amazing," he tells us.
If you're considering adopting a shelter dog, here's what Karamo says:
Shelter dogs generally have a reputation for being skittish, and sometimes emotionally troubled, but Karamo tells us that he would advocate for anyone to rescue a pup over shopping for them. As long as you have the emotional capacity and funds to take care of an animal, he 100 percent encourages animal lovers to adopt.
"I would tell [someone who is considering adopting a shelter dog] that it’s the best thing... there’s something about a shelter dog in that they just want to give you unconditional love, and they want that love back," he says. "You gotta really look and say, do I have the capacity to give right now? Am I ready to receive? Because if you are, a shelter dog is perfect for you."
Karamo's partnership with Febreze encourages pup parents to show off their fur babies on social media.
While advocating for Adopt A Dog Month, Karamo also partnered with Febreze for their SayUpWithFebreze campaign, which encourages Instagram and Twitter users to post photos of themselves cuddling with their pups, with the hashtag #SayUpWithFebreze. For every photo posted starting Wednesday, Oct. 14, they will donate $25 to North Shore Animal League America, a no-kill adoption center.
"I just think it's such an easy thing that people already post them cuddling, so if they just do the hashtag, all these dogs in shelters will get money, so I really hope people will do that," he says, also suggesting that any pet owner — first time or not — tries his favorite pet-focused Febreze product, Febreze Fabric Refresher.
"Now Bobby has a dog, and I just gave him a bunch of Febreze because his house is so fancy," Karamo explains. "And I’m like, ‘here you go, take this Febreze, I got a whole bunch.’ And I even gave him some of the ones I bought myself and was like, 'this is going to be perfect for your dog.'"
Between the mental health benefits that come with looking at cute animals, and the gratifying experience of saving a dog's life, it comes as no surprise Karamo is a major advocate of the #AdoptDontShop movement, but we love him even more for it.
If you're interested in adopting a pup for yourself, check out your local ASPCA chapter or find a neighborhood shelter. You definitely won't regret doing so.