More than 30 years ago, Fern Michaels embarked on a career writing women’s fiction novels. Today she’s authored nearly 100 books, most landing on The New York Times best-seller list. This year, Michaels has two more novels in her wildly popular Sisterhood series coming out – “Game Over” in July, followed by “Cross Roads” in October.
A lover of animals, Michaels buys bulletproof vests for hardworking law-enforcement dogs nationwide and has even purchased several fully trained canines for police departments that couldn’t afford them. DOG FANCY recently caught up with Michaels to learn more about her philanthropic work.
DOG FANCY: How did you become involved in dog-related charity work?
Fern Michaels: When I first moved to South Carolina in 1994, I turned on the morning news and saw this police funeral for a K9 dog who was killed in the line of duty. I sat there and cried, and then the news people started talking about K9 [bulletproof] vests. I looked into it, and then I called around to all the different police departments and found out there were 22 police dogs in my county and three neighboring counties. I ordered vests for them from a company in Texas and the rest, as they say, is history. Somehow or other, word got out about this lady in South Carolina who did this and the requests came pouring in. I think it’s safe to say I’m all over the map with this.
DF: What organizations do you work with, and specifically, how do you help them?
FM: I don’t work with any agencies. There’s no need for me to do that. I can’t handle the requests that come in as it is. I just do what I can, and it depends on the request. I rarely turn anyone down, and I do make sure that the dog is well-treated and a part of the handler’s family. I have my own criteria that I go by.
DF: Why is this cause important to you?
FM: First of all, I am an animal lover. If a police officer is issued a Kevlar vest and sent out to protect his community and his partner is a dog, shouldn’t his partner be just as protected as the police officer? That’s what I go by.
DF: What is the most rewarding part of your philanthropic work?
FM: Getting feedback from the different dog handlers and the pictures they send me. My office walls are full of plaques of K9s I’ve helped that are so beautiful they leave you breathless. Getting progress reports on how the dogs do during their trials and pictures of the dogs with the handlers’ kids when the dog is off duty – you can’t beat that to bring a smile to your face.
DF: Tell us about your pets.
FM: I have four dogs. Two 5-year-old Golden Retrievers, Jam and Jelly, a 12-year-old Yorkshire Terrier, Charlie, and of course Flash, who is 7 years old. Any chance I get, I try to get them on my book covers.
DF: What are your future dog charity plans?
FM: Who knows? I just react to what is needed and somehow or other people find me and make requests. I have to say, I never have to go looking for a project.
For more information on books by Fern Michaels, visit the author’s website.