John Paul DeJoria: Champion for Animals 


John Paul DeJoria doesn’t pull punches when it comes to defending and caring for animals. He was an animal lover and animal advocate long before it was cool. As a young man working for a major hair care company in the 1970s, John Paul watched the daily routine of scientists taking marmoset monkeys out of their cages to conduct painful experiments on their eyes and skin, then placing them back in their dark, locker-style boxes. “I felt so sorry for those little marmosets,” John Paul remembers. He had a gut feeling the work wasn’t necessary.

“A lot of vice-presidents of research and development didn’t want to lose their jobs, so they convinced the executive staff they had to test on animals for the safety of the public. That’s baloney,” John Paul says. He realized something had to be done. So, over thirty years ago, he made a controversial decision that would later prove to be a positive change in the cosmetic industry.

Booting Out the Animal Testing

“I love animals. I’ve had every kind of pet, and I couldn’t imagine doing that to one of them. The boots were there, so I filled them. Someone had to,” John Paul says.

With that unprecedented step forward, Paul Mitchell became the first company in the professional beauty industry to publicly announce testing on humans—never on animals. “My competitors slammed me, but,” he adds, “we stuck by our guns. We were very proud of it.” Several years later, more cosmetic companies followed suit. According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), from 1980 to 2012 the number of cruelty-free companies increased from just a handful to hundreds.

John Paul Pet

Considering John Paul’s passion for animals, it seemed only natural for him to create a line of pet care products. “Over the years, people would ask ‘Why don’t you do something for pets?’ So one day, my buddy John Capra and I said, ‘Let’s do it!’ and we did,” John Paul says.

Although made strictly for the animal industry, John Paul Pet shampoos and conditioners come formulated with Paul Mitchell’s same high-quality ingredients. But there’s a difference, as John Paul explains: “We changed the pH to match an animal’s pH. If human products are used on animals, it’s too acidic for them, and dries them out. That’s something very unique about John Paul Pet products.” John Capra, long-time friend and cofounder, reports, “the number one need we see for pets is a solution for dryness, so we beefed up the benefits for conditioning and moisturizing.”

John Paul and John Capra feel strongly about educating pet owners on the proper hygienic care of their pets. “Pets don’t come with instructions. The eye and ear wipes, the teeth and gum wipes, the full body and paw wipes, are essential parts of the daily care of a pet,” John Capra says.

Pets enrich our lives, offer companionship, love us unconditionally, and become important members of our families. “Humans can grow up and take care of themselves. Pets can’t do that.” John Capra adds.

For the record, John Paul Pet proudly tests products on humans first.

Behind the Paw is an extension of John Paul Pet—an avenue to give back to the animal community. It’s about making animals’ lives better. “When John and I started this business, we both decided that we’re going to give back,” John Paul says. As soon as the company made a profit, they’d planned on donating to animal shelters, animal research, and animal protection programs. “As it turns out, we’re nowhere near making a profit, but we’re giving to organizations anyway,” John Paul says with a laugh. “We can’t say no,” John Capra adds.

Zoot Pet Hospital

This past May, John Capra and John Paul came to Georgetown to film a John Paul Pet promotional video. Gina Dial, national account director and vice president of John Paul Pet, recommended Zoot to them because that’s where she takes her pets. They enlisted the help of Zoot Pets and Dr. Jensen Young to help market the products. “Dr. Young has been one of our best supporters,” John Capra says. “And,” he adds, “Zoot is one of the best-run clinics with which we’ve been involved.” After the filming, Dr. Young and Jim Root, co-owner and general manager of Zoot Pets, showed John Paul around the facility. “They’re a professional, cool place,” John Paul says.

Peace, Love and Happiness

John Paul cofounded several extremely successful companies, including John Paul Mitchell Systems and Patrón Spirits Company. His family made their home in Austin eleven years ago. “My wife is a Texan. That’s one of the reasons we came to Austin. We also wanted to bring up our children somewhere in the world that had good family values,” John Paul explains. The DeJoria family shares their lives with three sweet golden retrievers and two horses.

Even in his off-time, John Paul works at giving. Each year, for the last ten years, John Paul revs up his Harley and puts on the Peace*Love*Happiness ride. It’s usually around his birthday. Celebrities like Peter Fonda, Robbie Knievel, and Rick Perry ride alongside him. John Paul says, “We raise money for the Austin Children’s Shelter and Club 100,” for families of fallen or injured law enforcement and first responders.

John Paul blazed the trail for animals when he filled those boots years ago. “One big lesson I’ve learned in life is that when we say, ‘I did everything right. Why did that happen?’ then later you find out [why], and say, ‘Wow, it’s a good thing that happened because something good came out of it,’” he says. It’s apparent he loves his life’s work, and if the animals could talk, they’d say they do, too.

For more information about John Paul Pet, visit

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