Sean Lowe won over the hearts of America as the leading man of season 17 of “The Bachelor.” He also goes over well with their four-legged counterparts.
During Hurricane Harvey, Lowe went out and helped rescue stranded people and their pets. The Texas native says it was an experience that forever changed him, and he now advocates for educating pet parents on the measures they can take to keep their animals safe during a natural disaster.
Pet Central caught up with the former Bachelor to discuss disaster preparedness for pets as well as life with his pup, Ellie; how the dog—whom he jokingly refers to as his “favorite child”—is adjusting to life with baby No. 2, born May 18; and how he and his wife, Catherine Lowe, make sure to give their pup one-on-one time while raising two little ones.
What pets do you share a home with?
I have an 11-year-old chocolate Lab named Ellie. She is the sweetest dog in the entire world and brings a lot of happiness to my life. She also gets along great with [my son] Samuel.
How has Ellie changed your life?
Having a dog has been such a wonderful experience. Catherine and I have always been animal lovers, and Ellie has become such an important part of our family. I am so happy that Samuel and Isaiah have been able to experience the love Ellie has given Catherine and I for so many years.
How did having Ellie help prepare you and Catherine for parenthood?
Having a dog has been an incredible experience. Ellie is considered one of our children, and she actually may be my favorite child! Ellie has always been such a great pet and has been so amazing with Samuel, and now our new baby, Isaiah.
Is it true that your firstborn, 2-year-old Samuel, is obsessed with your dog Ellie?
My son Samuel is a big fan of Ellie. He sees how important Ellie is to both Catherine and I, and he realizes that she is part of the family as well. Ellie has always been so gentle with our son, and they formed a special bond the moment we brought Samuel home from the hospital.
How did Ellie react when you brought Samuel home?
Catherine and I were nervous that Ellie would be a little jealous because she was always our baby, but she immediately fell in love with Samuel, and the two have been inseparable since.
Congratulations on baby No. 2! Did you do anything to help Ellie adjust to a new baby coming into the home?
We have been blessed with having another child, Isaiah. Samuel loves his little brother, and so does Ellie. Catherine and I are getting readjusted to diaper duty, for sure, but we are so thankful to have little Isaiah as part of our family.
Catherine and I try to squeeze in some individual Ellie time—whether that’s taking her for a long walk, playing fetch or snuggling on the couch—but she’s treated just like any member of the family. Of course, there is a lot of focus on the new baby right now, but the great thing is that we all like to spend time together.
You recently teamed up with the Banfield Foundation to film a PSA about helping families to ensure that their pets are safe in the face of an emergency. How did that come about?
After being on the ground and helping with relief efforts for Hurricane Harvey last year, I saw firsthand the devastation and confusion natural disasters create, and many suffered the added heartbreak of being separated from their pets.
I couldn’t imagine my life without Ellie, so when Banfield Foundation contacted me about working on a public service announcement (PSA) to help educate pet owners on the importance of disaster-preparedness planning, it felt like a no-brainer.
Banfield Foundation does a lot of disaster relief work, especially in high-risk areas like Texas, Florida and California. I’m very honored to work with them. Pets bring so much joy to our lives, so it’s important that we plan ahead to ensure they have the best possible care.
Did any specific experiences of rescuing people and their pets after the hurricane especially touch your heart?
It was both a humbling and eye-opening experience. I saw so many people clinging to their dog or cat, and even more pets were stranded or displaced in the chaos. When I was helping with rescue efforts, I got so many calls and texts from friends asking if I could help stranded dogs in town, but, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get to many areas; it was just heartbreaking. I saw there was a need for disaster planning, and that’s why I wanted to partner with Banfield Foundation on this public service announcement.
So many people had their dog or cat with them during our rescue efforts. A lot of pets were stranded, and it made me think of what Catherine and I would do to keep Ellie safe during similar circumstances.
Through your work with Hurricane Harvey rescues, what have you learned about how pet parents need to prepare in the face of an emergency?
A recent survey by Banfield Pet Hospital revealed that 91 percent of pet owners are not prepared for the next disaster—that’s crazy! There are many simple and potentially life-saving steps we can take for our four-legged family members before disaster strikes. These include:
- Create a pet disaster preparedness kit with your veterinarian that includes basic survival needs—including up to seven days’ worth of food and water, two weeks’ worth of medications—important documents like medical and vaccination records, microchip information and a photo of you with your pet in case of separation.
- In the event of a natural disaster, never leave your pets behind—in vehicles, tethered or crated—without you or a member of your family there. To avoid having to make such a difficult choice during an emergency, prepare ahead by identifying and creating a list of places to evacuate with your pets, such as pet-friendly hotels or boarding facilities, and include contact information and addresses for each. Include contact information for your veterinarian, as well as emergency veterinarians in nearby cities in your kit.
- Ensure your pets are microchipped. Banfield found that more than half of those surveyed do not have their pet microchipped. Microchipping is one of the best ways to ensure pets are returned to their owners if they get lost or separated. In addition to ensuring your pet is always wearing up-to-date identification tags, talk with your veterinarian about microchipping your pets, and keep your account and contact information current to increase the likelihood of a reunion if your pet gets loose amid chaos.
Those with a plan in place that includes every member of their family—including pets—may encounter fewer challenges in the event of an emergency. For more tips, visit BanfieldFoundation.org/disaster.
Now through September 30, pet owners can not only kick-start their own pet disaster preparedness plans but also make a difference in the lives of pets in need. With a donation of $45 or more at BanfieldFoundation.org/disaster, the Banfield Foundation will thank donors with a pre-assembled pet disaster preparedness kit and donate a kit to a pet in need in Houston, New Orleans or Baton Rouge—areas hit hardest by recent disasters—up to 1,000 kits. Kits include a waterproof bag containing critical supplies, such as a blanket, treats, stress-relief products, water and food calculation charts, as well as tips and checklists to help keep pets cared for in the event of a natural disaster.
How is life after “The Bachelor”? Are you working on other current projects?
I don’t have a lot to complain about after “The Bachelor”—I have a happy and healthy family! The new baby is keeping us busy.
Do you have any plans to add a new pet to the roost anytime soon?
Catherine and I definitely have our hands full at the moment, and Ellie loves being the only girl. But you know the saying—never say never! We are passionate about animals, so who knows?
Nicole Pajer is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the proud owner of a Doberman who never runs out of energy and a rat terrier who excels at breakdancing. In addition to Chewy, she writes for The New York Times, Parade, HuffPo, Woman’s Day, Billboard, and more. Keep up with her adventures on Twitter @NicolePajer
Featured Image: Brandon Wade/Invision for Banfield Foundation/AP Images