Here at the ASPCA, we’re always inspired when we see people taking a stand for animal welfare. We’re extra inspired, though, when some of our youngest supporters speak up for animals! Pennsylvania fourth- and third- grade animal enthusiasts Veronica J. and Kamryn V. recently teamed up to write a guide book for pet parents titled Hamster Fun Facts. We checked in with Veronica and Kamryn:
Do you have any pets? If so, please tell us about them.
Veronica: I have three hamsters. Midnight is a black Syrian hamster and he is nice, he does not bite. Oreo is a black and white Syrian hamster. Pipsqueak is a Chinese dwarf hamster and stays at my Grandpa’s house. He is small and timid. I also had another hamster named Pipsqueak, but he passed away a month ago.
Kamryn: We had a black Lab who passed away, and we'll be getting a new dog soon.
What inspired you to write Hamster Fun Facts?
Veronica: I love hamsters and needed a project for my media lab class at school. My teacher suggested I write a book on hamsters.
Kamryn: My love of animals inspired me to help write Hamster Fun Facts.
What is the book about?
Veronica: How to take care of hamsters and fun facts about hamsters. It is a great book for someone thinking about getting hamsters or who already has hamsters.
Kamryn: The book has lots of ideas about what you can do with hamsters, what types of toys and food you can give them and it has a lot of fun puzzles to solve.
Why do you think it’s important to be an animal advocate?
Veronica: I think it is important to be an animal advocate because they cannot represent themselves. I want to stop animal cruelty.
Kamryn: Some animals are endangered and need us to speak up for them.
How can other kids your age help animals?
Veronica: They can help animals by volunteering at an animal shelter or donating treats, dog food or toys, etc. to local animal shelters.
Kamryn: You can donate some allowance to a local animal shelter and write your own book.
Thanks for supporting animals, Veronica and Kamryn! We can’t wait to read your next book.
We’re happy to share some exciting news: Connecticut’s governor is poised to sign a bill that would transfer 34 acres of state land to the Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation to be utilized as an animal sanctuary.
“We had asked in lieu of flowers that people send donations to The Animal Center,” says Jenny Hubbard, Catherine’s Mom. “There was an overwhelming response— within the course of a few weeks, they had received donations in Catherine’s memory totaling over $100,000. The Animal Center had been working to build an animal sanctuary, so we put all of our energy into making a foundation that could financially support the sanctuary for years to come.”
Plans for the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary include indoor and outdoor facilities, which will provide a caring environment for dogs, cats, farm animals and native wildlife. The Animal Center will also continue to run its existing animal foster program.
“The Sanctuary will have on-site canine and feline communities,” Jenny says. “We are also going to do farm animal refuge—we will give respite to cows, sheep and chickens that might be neglected or abused, or need a home because a farm is closed due to financial reasons. In the long term, we hope to do native wildlife refuge and release for injured animals such as turtles or deer.”
Jenny notes that the Sanctuary’s main building will contain a visitor center, as well as a veterinary clinic. She says they plan to leave much of the Sanctuary’s land as-is, incorporating the outdoor animal spaces into existing woodlands and meadows.
Are you in the Connecticut area? Three teenage siblings will host the Shapiro Family Classical Music Concert on Saturday, June 14 at 5:00 P.M. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 651 Pequot Ave. in Southport, Connecticut. Proceeds from the concert will benefit the Sanctuary.
Stay tuned for more details to come as the Sanctuary plans progress. We can’t wait to see countless animals receive care as a result of Catherine’s inspirational dedication to animals in need.
Talking to kids about pet store puppies and puppy mills is no easy task. The last thing parents want to expose their children to is the harsh reality of painful cages, overcrowded conditions, diseases and emotional abuse. To help children understand why they can’t have “that puppy in the window” of your neighborhood pet store, we’ve put together some kid-friendly talking points for tough questions.
Where do pet store puppies come from? Most pet stores puppies come from crowded and unhealthy places called puppy mills.
What is a puppy mill? Puppy mills are like big factories for dogs. This means that many dogs are kept there their entire lives and forced to breed (have puppies). Sadly, puppy mill dogs are not happy. They don’t get to play outside or sleep in a comfy bed. A lot of times they get sick. And there’s usually no one to give them any love.
What happens to puppy mill dogs? Puppies born in a puppy mill are taken away from their mothers very young and usually sent to a pet store, where they are sold to people who don’t know where the puppy really came from. The puppy mill owner doesn’t care about the puppy or the puppy’s mom and dad, who are left behind at the puppy mill after the puppies are sent to the pet store. He or she only cares about making money. That’s why we don’t like buying dogs from pet stores!
Why are people cruel to animals? It’s hard to say what drives a person to be cruel to an animal. In puppy mills, the owners are thinking more about the money than the dogs. Organizations like the ASPCA are working hard to make sure that every animal is happy, safe and loved by helping shut down puppy mills and educate people about why they shouldn’t buy a puppy in a pet store.
What happens to the puppies in a pet store if no one buys them? If a store doesn’t sell a puppy quickly, it will lower the price until someone buys the puppy. The more often pet stores have to do this, the more money they lose. Next time, they won’t order as many puppies.
So how CAN I get a puppy? Good news! Shelters are full of happy, sweet puppies waiting for forever homes. If your family is ready for a pet, you can head to your local shelter to adopt. Not only will you be saving a life, but also you’ll be sending a message to puppy mill owners that what they do is unacceptable! The fewer people who buy their puppies, the fewer puppies they will “make.”
What else can I do? You can start by setting a good example for your friends and community. Ask your mom and dad to take our No Pet Store Puppies pledge not to buy anything (food, supplies, etc.) from pet stores that sell puppies and spread the word about animal adoption.
We have exciting news for middle school students in New York City! The ASPCA has provided a $12,500 grant to Unleashed—a non-profit group that works to build confidence and purpose in young girls—to launch after-school programs to empower young animal advocates.
Participants in the Unleashed after-school programs at various local middle schools will engage in educational programs and projects where they will become animal advocates in their communities. They will learn how to combat problems such as animal homelessness, dog fighting and puppy mills. The girls will also participate in an animal rescue, as well as a social justice carnival.
We’re excited to see these inspiring Unleashed participants make a positive difference for animals in their communities!
We’ve been in love with Melissa Joan Hart since her days on “Clarissa Explains It All” and “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.” These days, the “Melissa and Joey” actress and author of the forthcoming "Melissa Explains It All: Tales from My Abnormally Normal Life" is all grown up, a mom of three and a serious pet lover. We asked her what life is like around her house.
Tell us about your pets! What do they mean to you and your family?
My boys are adventure lovers and find “pets” everywhere they go, although we release them by the end of the day. But the ones that stuck around were our two doggies, Copper and Mater. Our “pet” snapping turtle, Dusty, we found in our yard two years ago. He was rehabilitated and released in the pond by our house.
Are your kids animal lovers? And is it important to you to raise your kids as animal lovers?
They adore all animals and are obsessed with learning about all types of wildlife and habitats. I think it’s important to teach them kindness to all of God’s creatures.
Do your kids pitch in with any of the pet care?
They get a quarter every time they feed the dogs, but with that incentive, the dogs have been gaining a lot of weight recently.
Have you faced any challenges caring for young children and pets at the same time?
Often the pets get neglected by the adults or roughed up by the little ones. Once the kids go to bed, we try to show the dogs some good attention and remind them that they are important to us too. Both worlds come together best on a family walk or when the kids and their friends throw the ball for the pups endlessly in the yard.
Why are you an advocate for animal rescue?
It’s important to remember that there are lots of lonely pets in shelters nearby that need good homes and love. The boys get so upset whenever we watch “Lady and the Tramp” and the doggies are in the pound. Someday, when we are ready for a new pet, we will take a trip to our local shelter for a new family member.
"Melissa Explains It All: Tales from My Abnormally Normal Life" is out from St. Martin’s Press on Oct. 29, 2013.