Local animal expert Jolynn Ulibarri is a woman on a mission. It's one of education, safety and conservation, and one that she started as far back as she can remember. Former groomer of Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show competitors, an evaluator for the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizen certification, vet tech and owner of animal-based business Peace Pets (peacepetsluv.com), Ulibarri brings her exotic and everyday animals to schools, libraries, nursing homes, birthday parties and beyond.
What exactly is Peace Pets?
It's 'Planetary Enhancement And Conservation Effort'—That's what the word 'PEACE' breaks down to. Our form of shelter provides an educational platform, takes in animals and takes them all over the place. We use them with youth to decrease fear and increase a feeling of coexistence. Maybe they'll never own it, but they'll have more respect for it—it changes them as adults. It helps them to be less violent, more conscious.
And how long have you been at it?
Working with animals? I've been at it since I was 4 years old. Later, I started volunteering at a shelter and never stopped. I got my degree in … holistic therapy; I got my veterinary technician certification. I taught at Montclair State University in New Jersey and I worked at Turtle Back Zoo in New Jersey. For Peace Pets, we turn 10 this year, and we're really proud of that.
Was there some defining moment in your life that made you want to work with animals?
From my earliest memories, I was fascinated by how many different species there were. I always felt like I was deeply connected and responsible somehow and like somebody had to do more. I loved people like Steve Irwin and Jane Goodall—these people who were out there giving their lives to things that were bigger than them. It was in my soul as far back as I can remember; it was a pull. And my mom wouldn't let me have animals in my house, so I had to go elsewhere, but it gave me a giving heart. I should throw out there that schools and public youth groups get discounts. Peace Pets even does discounts if you donate food. And we want to offer up that we're an open door. We can't take every dog and cat, there are restrictions against that, but we'll never turn away an exotic animal and we won't ask questions—we offer that to anyone before they put a non-native animal in an environment. Please come to us first. And be conscious about what you're getting. Some of these animals live a long time.