When I was young, I wanted to be a veterinarian. I was that kid who loved everything about animals. I had pictures of animals from an old calendar on my wall. I had over 50 stuffed animals on my bed at any time. I watched every TV show that had a dog in it that I could find.
As I got older, I still loved animals but the thought of going to school to be a doctor was daunting and left my thoughts very quickly. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized there were many more ways to help animals, I just didn’t know about them.
I found my passion in animal sheltering and never looked back. Boy, did I wish that there was something for me as a kid that would have exposed me to animal issues at a much younger age. I believe it would have changed the course of my life earlier on and in college. Luckily, I found what I was meant to do, but not every kid is as fortunate. Until now!
This week, the Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA is introducing Kids for Animals, a new community engagement program to encourage kids 18 and under to learn about and get involved in animal issues. A colorful packet gives kids ideas and tools on how to make a difference in the lives of homeless animals. It provides projects ranging from reading books with humane themes and writing stories to organizing fundraising drives and hands-on volunteering at the shelter. Kids are encouraged to get creative and come up with their own ideas as well. The packets contain activities that are appropriate for individuals and groups and is a great resource for school-based community service projects.
Sarah Mooneyham is 10 years old and is a PHS Kid for Animals. Driving from Bradbury each week, Sarah and her mom work together in the laundry room at the animal shelter making sure all of the animals have clean bedding to sleep on.
“I’m excited to be a Kid for Animals because I love them,” Sarah says passionately. “It makes me happy to help the animals who don’t have another place to go.”
She also regularly brings sick, injured or stray animals to the shelter so that they are safe. Sarah joins over 300 fellow Kids for Animals who come to the shelter each week to walk and train dogs, socialize cats and help at outreach events. Other Kids for Animals participants do projects like school fundraising drives, participate in the Wiggle Waggle Walk, draw pictures and write stories about being kind to animals. When asked why she became a Kid for Animals, Sarah responds with a smile, “It’s fun and you get to help, learn and see lots of different animals.”
When a young person joins the Kids for Animals program, they are asked to read the following pledge out loud.
I pledge to:
- Work hard and give time to help animals at the Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA
- Be respectful and kind to all animals
- Share experiences about the Pasadena Humane Society with others
- Complete at least one service project per year
Once a kid has made their pledge and commits to a project or volunteer activity, they become an official member and join a movement of hundreds of kids who are making the world better for animals. Kids are encouraged to share their great work with their friends, school mates and with us at the shelter. The Pasadena Humane Society even asks them to post photos of their projects on social media with the hashtag #PHSkids to show their commitment to animals.
“The PHS Kids for Animals program is all about making a difference and learning that you, no matter what age you are, can do something small or big to help,” says Adrian Griffin, Humane Education Coordinator for the Pasadena Humane Society. “Our goal is to help animals at the shelter and to instill empathy for animals in children at a young age in an effort to create compassionate adults. Who knows, maybe a kid will grow up to work with animals someday because of this program?”