Guest blog by Diana Wegner, mother of teen actor and founder of Kids Against Animal Cruelty Lou Wegner
I knew from the start that my son Lou had a way with animals. As a toddler, he looked after our rescued Dalmatian, Belle. Lou would don his knight’s costume and dress Belle as his princess. He would say, “Belle will be safe always” as he wielded his plastic sword.
At age three, we enrolled Lou in Jack Hanna’s Summer Zoo Experience. Over eight summers, he learned that education, kindness and responsibility were key to saving animals on the brink of extinction. He learned about conservation, preservation and ways to get involved.
He also spent two summers at the Ohio Wildlife Center, gaining hands on experience with coyotes, hawks, deer, snakes and other wildlife in rehabilitation that had been injured by cars or intentionally harmed. It was there that Lou saw animal cruelty firsthand.
When we moved to Los Angeles so Lou could pursue an acting career, he saw his first chance to make a difference. Lou discovered that shelters in Los Angeles were extremely overcrowded, and animals were euthanized to make room for many others to come.
Lou was devastated. He took to the streets on weekends with friends and held signs promoting animal adoption and spay/neuter. Photographer Patsy Dunn and actor Sam Dobbins interviewed Lou as he held a sign that said, “Kids Against Animal Cruelty.”
A friend suggested that Lou take the name to Facebook, and Kids Against Animal Cruelty (KAAC) was born. The organization started with 42 members, and has grown to more than 20,000 members with an additional 50,000 in partner coalitions.
KAAC spread across the country, and through the power of social media and teamwork, has helped save thousands of lives. Lou has been a guest on CNN and featured in the Huffington Post, the Washington Post and more than 300 other news publications. Lou has recruited teens to run 15 state chapters, with a goal to have chapters in all 50 states. Bringing awareness to the plight of shelter animals and promoting adoption, spay/neuter and pet responsibility are the main goals of the organization.
Recently, ASPCA Corporate Sponsor Subaru hosted a fundraiser created by Abana Jacobs, Subaru Promotions & Sponsorship Specialist for KAAC, at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in Los Angeles. Participants ran more than 5,000 laps around the 2014 XV Crosstrek Hybrid, and Subaru donated $1 for each lap around the car.