One of my favorite ChicagoNow bloggers is Kathy Mordini who writes Raining Cats and Dogs. Kathy loves animals and it brings her much agony to imagine cats and dogs being abused, living shortened lives in kill shelters, and being bred in the horrible puppy mill conditions. Through her blog, Kathy has increased awareness of these issues and saved lives.
Recently, Kathy and I had the opportunity to sit down and chat about her passion for animals and how she's turned that into an incredibly successful blog that frequently lands in her the daily top 20 most read blogs of ChicagoNow, based on unique visitors. This is no small feat because there are 300 or so ChicagoNow bloggers. I'm sure you'll agree that Raining Cats and Dogs needs to be on your "must read" list.
Little Merry Sunshine: What prompted you to start blogging?
Kathy: After years of working into sales and marketing, I wanted to move back into the direction of marketing communications. Through blogging, I’m able to write about something I’m passionate about while getting a stronger feel for social media and content marketing.
Little Merry Sunshine: When did you first become passionate about saving animals and was there a particular event that caused it?
Kathy: I’ve always had a love for animals and have had a cat or cats most of my life. I just never thought I had time to volunteer. After finishing my MBA while working full time, I realized I did have time and I started to volunteer at Heartland Animal Shelter in Northbrook. I developed their PR/Marketing plan and did community outreach for a couple of years.
Little Merry Sunshine: Is Raining Cats and Dogs on ChicagoNow your first blog or did you write it somewhere else (e.g., Blogger) or write another blog prior to joining ChicagoNow?
Kathy: I didn’t really blog before. I did have a freelance column for Examiner.com. I loved writing but there was no sense of community. That prompted me to give ChicagoNow a shot.
Little Merry Sunshine: What’s been the best part of writing as part of the ChicagoNow community?
Kathy: It truly is the community aspect. I learn so much from fellow bloggers in our Facebook group and was impressed early on with the large number of writers that are in the top 20 that engage and encourage. Since I’ve started my new job, I have less freedom to be online and miss that camaraderie.
Little Merry Sunshine: Do you have a favorite post? Why is it your favorite?
Kathy: My favorite is Five Minutes to Heartbreak. It was prompted by a picture a friend of mine who volunteers at Chicago Animal Care and Control posted on Facebook – a side by side of a happy dog and a devastated dog. The first picture was taken as she came into CACC and the second was five minutes later after being dumped by her family.
I wrote the post in a little over half an hour and posted it, then went off line the rest of the day. It just exploded and went viral on it’s own. To me, it illustrated the heartbreak we see in rescue everyday that people don’t think about when they get a pet and them dump him or her when they grow tired of having a pet. At an open access facility, the broken pets often lose their lives first because it’s hard to network out a terrified dog or cat.
Cindy, as she was called, was taken in quickly by Illinois Doberman Rescue Plus and she was adopted a month later. I did a follow up and she’s been named Rose. Her new family reads my blog and sends me a note from time to time. I repost this blog every couple of months as a reminder of pets left behind.
Little Merry Sunshine: What post has been your most successful post? What made it so successful?
When the Jets signed Vick earlier this year, my animal rescue friends were inflamed (again) and the so many people were responding to let it go. This was my response. Again, it was one I wrote to get something off my chest and then I posted it and turned on The Good Wife. It took off and had a life of it’s own – over 200,000 page views.
It was popular because people are so very torn on the issue. There are people that think he should be left alone because he did his time. To me, what he did was so inherently cruel that it’s beyond human decency. Also, I think he just doesn’t get or feel bad for what he did.
Little Merry Sunshine: What are your goals with Raining Cats & Dogs?
Kathy: My goal is to educate people about the animal rescue community and also to encourage more people to adopt. I hit a lot of issues, but I write more than anything about the pet store/puppy mill connection. My goal is to really focus more on the plight of cats…but the puppy mill stories and issues keep landing in my inbox and get me a lot of page views.
Little Merry Sunshine: Looking down the road a bit and in relation to your blog, where do you want to be in 5 years?
Kathy: My goal was to use the blog as a springboard to get a different job. I did that, starting a new position in late March. They knew about the blog and are with me on the puppy mills. Since it’s in the pet industry, they are behind me 100 percent…although not everyone in this industry is.
I volunteer for The Puppy Mill Project and was involved in the passing of the new ordinances in Chicago and Cook County that outlawed the sale of commercially bred cats and dogs in pet stores. The County ordinance is facing an amendment next week that would allow pet sales to continue. Work is also underway in Springfield on a similar measure. UPDATE: The amendment to the County ordinance has been put on hold.
A post I did a few weeks ago prompted a wave of calls to hit Springfield on SB648 – a bill that would have derailed a lot of rescue efforts. After my post, a powerful lawmaker got involved and the measure was tabled. I’m still shocked at the power of the blog.
I will continue to cover those issues and have thought about a book – I actually have a lot of ideas. I will just need to refocus to get some time to write.
Little Merry Sunshine: What are your interests outside of blogging? What do you do for fun?
Kathy: I volunteer for several pet organizations. I like to participate in activities that support that and love to travel and spend time with friends.
Little Merry Sunshine: What are your social media handles so people can connect with you?
Kathy: Facebook is Facebook.com/RainingCatsDogs; Twitter is @KathyMordini; Google+ is kathypetexam; Pinterest is Pinterest.com/KathyMordini; and of course, on ChicagoNow at ChicagoNow.com/Raining-Cats-Dogs.
Kathy lives on the North Shore with her husband and her two cats, Max and Ellie.
Thank you Kathy for all you do to save the lives of at-risk cats and dogs. By saving their lives and finding them forever homes, you are undoubtedly saving the lives of many people, as well.
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