This prestigious award recognizes individuals in media who have the power to influence millions of animal lovers and use it to promote the joys and benefits of pet ownership. Past recipients of the award include Rachael Ray, Ellen DeGeneres, Sandy Robins, Connie Wilson, Dr. Marty Becker and Victoria Stilwell.
González-Govea has achieved rare multinational fame by reaching beyond borders. As Latin Americans move from pet ownership to pet “parenthood,” the ability of journalists to effectively reach multicultural audiences has become more important than ever.
Pet Age: Tell us about your career in journalism.
González-Govea: I have been involved in radio practically since I was born. My grandfather was the founder of the very first radio station group in my native Venezuela. It rapidly became a family business, so I made it a “business” of my own participating in several on-air programs. I didn’t get paid until I turned 18-years-old but it paid off afterwards.
Doing a job just because you love it has priceless (emotional) remunerations. Those emotions turn into proactive activities, better opportunities and that’s how I started evolving professionally, first working for Telemundo Network for 14 years, then with Univision and its top-rated news division programs. In parallel, I have been doing what I do best at heart: radio. Pet journalism has been a goal of my own. I have worked hard to become the first Hispanic professional of this kind.
Pet Age: You were born in Caracas, Venezuela. Tell us a little about how you became involved rescuing and writing about animals.
González-Govea: I adopted a chicken named Pio when I was about 7-years-old. Through Pio and through the opportunities I had to share with all kinds of animals at my father’s ranch in the countryside, I got a life-changing lesson in return: to understand what spontaneity, simplicity, sincerity and “time to cherish” truly mean. Those words and lessons are my working tools today that assist me to effectively and calmly select, write, produce and host my journalistic stories.
Pet Age: Is there a lot of difference in how you report a story for a Latino audience versus an English-speaking audience?
González-Govea: Spanish is my first language and I truly, as a good Latina, get profound when I tell a story to a Hispanic audience. I want to make sure they fully understand why North Americans have always incorporated animals in their everyday lives and lifestyles. Everywhere you turn there is an animal and I try to make sure Latinos appreciate the reason why…try to help them understand that this is based on loyalty, trust, love and potential to help us carry emotions.
Most of the Hispanics who emigrate to the U.S. want to live the American Dream and by that I mean we grow and evolve by adapting to the culture of our new geographical country when we combine it with the culture of our own. I have witnessed that pets help us assimilate in a way that unites and bonds both cultures.
Pet Age: In 2014, you were honored by the Humane Society of the United States with two 2014 Genesis Awards for your stories, “Butterball: Making History Against Abuse” and “Puppy Mills: The Horror Story.” Tell us how you felt receiving those awards.
González-Govea: Honored. Awards are an inspiration to continue the path chosen at birth by my human family but more importantly to see the benefits that my animal relatives gain from such coverage. I also feel an increased level of responsibility that comes along with titles and recognitions. They motivate me to continue raising awareness for our beloved animals. Being recognized as a journalist in an industry that is rapidly evolving in the Hispanic audience gives me a sense of how important and powerful it is to touch and impact all communities with valuable information.
Pet Age: Where do you gain your inspiration?
González-Govea: I look up to the sky. I see my adopted chicken Pio and my dogs who have passed on wag their tails. So I start writing and working on stories for me, for my audience and for those animals and individuals who, most of the time, are getting a second chance through my informative reports.
Pet Age: What’s the most rewarding part of your work?
González-Govea: Knowing that there are individuals who, through my stories, now understand how much more rewarding adoption is rather than buying a domestic animal. Knowing that people are becoming more conscious about the benefits we, as humans, receive from sharing our lives with animals and knowing that there are some dogs named after me (Xiomara) and not feeling offended by it. There is nothing more gratifying than these experiences when you are the author.
Pet Age: Where do you see the pet industry headed in 2015?
González-Govea: Every year I am more amazed with how many ideas (practical ones) this industry can come up with. The products each year are more and more brilliant and not only give our pets happier and healthier lives but also impact the lives of pet owners. These products help them to connect rationality with irrationality even more.
Pet Age: Any advice for aspiring pet industry journalists?
González-Govea: Never underestimate the PAWer [power] of your instinct and intuition.
Pet Age: What’s next for you in 2015?
González-Govea: Stay a happy global pet journalist and inform as much as I can so the animals and their owners enjoy a happy and educated life together.
Pet Age: Tell us where people can find you: