By KC Jones

Tinsley Mortimer and her adopted poodles, Strawberry and Shortcake were recently featured in the PETA campaign, BUY SHOES, NOT DOGS. After rescuing her girls from the annual Chinese dog meat festival, Yulin, through No Dogs Left Behind, we chatted on how they’ve been bonding as a family.

Strawberry, who approached her first the day they met, seems to be the older of the two. She’s got a bigger belly and is lighter in the face. Tinsley says, “she’s our little stoner dog”. Strawberry is the calmer one almost in a “motherly” way. “She’s a daddy’s girl. If we’re out on one our walks and Scott has to step away for a call, she stops right there and waits for him”.

Shortcake, is the spunky little sister and a true “mama’s girl.” She’s full of energy, the wild child. In some ways even a little brat that runs around always getting into mischief, leaving no dull moments.

During quarantine, they’ve been cherishing family time. They take at least five walks a day now, and the girls’ trauma from their potentially horrific fate seems further and further away. There’s a special connection with adopted dogs, Tinsley goes on to tell me: “It is as if they know you really rescued them.” And there is something to that. Although Tinsley usually spends most of her days with them, having to slow down and be home has helped her realize that this time has been gracious, and in many ways, its own blessing.

“I’ve told myself I’m not allowed to complain. I have so much to be thankful for. I’ve learned to cook, I’m learning to do things around the house, I feel like a real housewife”. The greatest reward has been watching Strawberry gravitate toward her partner, Scott, and watching both of her babies become less fearful and more themselves.

In the midst of feeling grateful, Tinsley has accepted this global tragedy and put her energy toward what she has the power to help. Finding ways to give back no matter how great or small is a powerful tool during a time when the world has been forced to stop and reflect.

Her PETA campaign with Strawberry and Shortcake, BUY SHOES, NOT DOGS, launched in April and actually meshed well with quarantine. “We are seeing people rescue more pets. With having the time to be home, adoptions are higher.” After moving to the windy city, she’s been working with PAWS Chicago, one of the largest no kill organizations in the nation. Their annual Fur Ball charity, of which Tinsley’s involved,—pending the global health crisis— plans to happen in November.

As she’s brainstorming on ways to give back and contribute positively, one idea is bringing rescues from China to no kill shelters in the states, creating more opportunities for dogs to be rescued from Yulin. “In some ways, I worry people will be reluctant to adopt these dogs from China because Yulin is also a wet market. But, I hope very much the pandemic will give activists a one-up in finally getting Yulin shut down for good.” What’s ahead for Tinsley? She is looking forward to being more involved politically in the fight to save animals lives. Giving animals a chance at living lives full of love like Strawberry and Shortcake, she is determined will be the focus of her future endeavors.

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