By Linda Scherer
Penguins are mean and will bite; chimpanzees do not like cigarettes; and a chameleon can camouflage itself and hide in a home for days without being found just a few bits of animal trivia Debi (Moy) Pool, 1975 Holy Trinity graduate, has learned as the owner of the Animal Talent Pool.
With more than 25 years of experience supplying animals for print, broadcast, feature films, and special programs, Pool has worked with just about every kind of animal imaginable.
Some of the animals include skunks, rabbits, donkeys, deer, fish, ducks, beaver, elephants, hippopotamuses, kangaroos, pigs, cows, turkeys, monkeys, as well as ordinary everyday pets like dogs and cats.
“I look for an animal that is used to being around people, very social and will let people touch it,” Pool said.
Whenever possible, Pool likes to find animals for her ads that are from around the area.
She has gotten kittens from the Wright County Humane Society, she chose a Howard Lake Holstein cow right off the farm for a Timberwolves’ TV commercial, and she used area dogs to photograph for Milk Bone packaging which is soon to hit store shelves.
Because she has been lining up animals in advertising for many years, she has a long list of contacts and knows how to find just the right animal for the project.
“I have people that have snakes, farm animals, and people who have exotic animals. Sometimes you can’t find them in the state, so you have to go out of state,” Pool said.
One of her latest projects was doing an ad for Target with five bull terrier puppies.
“That one was tough,” Pool said. “They wanted more than one puppy and they all had to be white. And they had to be between 7 or 8 weeks old because they wanted the puppies’ ears flopped down. As they get older, the ears go up.”
It took Pool a couple of months to find the puppies in Kansas.
“Target was willing to wait and I had plenty of time on this one, but usually, they don’t have time to wait for anything,” Pool said.
Once the animal has been selected, it is up to Pool to make accommodations for the animal’s shelter (depending on its size), hotel reservations for its owner, travel reservations, and she needs to plan a location to shoot the production.
Of course, dealing with animals like elephants, hippopotamuses, or a kangaroo requires special accommodations be made for shelter, as well as for the shoot.
When she runs into difficulty finding a particular pet, it has sometimes been necessary for her to buy the animal and find a home for it later.
That is how a chameleon, Skiddles, came to be lost in their home.
“We kept it for a while,” Debi said. “The cover came off of its cage and it got lost in the house for two days. They change color in their environment. We just couldn’t find it.”
Her two daughters, Kylie, attending the University of Minnesota, and Skyann, who is a freshman at Delano, will sometimes come along to help with puppy and kitten shoots, but she has found it is not a good thing.
“They want to keep them,” Debi said.
One of the hazards of her trade is her love of animals.
“It is kind of hard to say ‘no’ to a lot of them,” Debi said.
She has done so many ads over the years that she finds it difficult to pick a favorite shoot.
However, one advertisement, which was done a number of years ago when she was working as a studio manager for Dublin Productions, really stands out in her memory.
The ad was to try to get people to quit smoking. The theme “butts are gross” was a major project. A cigarette was put in the mouth of a camel, frog, duck, deer, hippo, a chimpanzee, and other animals Debi could not remember.
“The chimp hated the cigarette. He would take it and throw it,” Debi said.
Cigarette smoke was added to the picture after the shoot.
Debi Pool recalls her younger years
When Debi recalls her younger years, it gave her the perfect background for the career she has chosen.
She grew up on her parents, Roger and Marian Moy’s, Howard Lake farm. They raised cows, pigs, and chickens and she helped with chores.
When she was in school, she always liked advertising and taking pictures. When she graduated from Holy Trinity High School she decided to become a professional photographer.
She attended school for photography at Hennepin Community College.
Right out of school, she began to work for Dublin Productions. She first started out in the black-and-white lab developing and printing.
“I got tired of working in the dark, and I started managing the studio. Dublin was into working with animals. Now, Dublin does more TV. I mainly do print and some TV.”
Debi worked with Dublin Productions for 19 years. About five years ago she decided to open her own business Animal Talent Pool.
One of the photographers she works with is Joe Lampi of Lampi Photography in Minneapolis. Lampi worked with Dublin at the same time as Debi and they are both freelancing now. They work together on projects like the Target puppy ad.
Home for Debi and her husband, Jim, is off of Lake Sarah Road in Independence, where they have lived since 1981.
They own four horses; two dogs a malamute lab and a golden retriever; and a cat.
To contact Debi Pool
Pet owners who have an animal they think would work in an ad, or someone interested in creating an ad using a particular animal, can contact Debi Pool through her e-mail address, email@example.com or check out her web site at www.animaltalentpool.com.