November 14, 2017

One Boy, Inspired by His Rescue Dog, Makes a Commitment to Helping Animals Everywhere

Jaden and Mello

One 13-year-old boy is turning his love for animals into a full-time passion project after he and his mother gave one special little dog a second chance at life. Jaden Spector is an eighth-grader, living in New York City. Like a lot of kids his age, Jaden loves animals, and around two years ago, he began asking his mother for a dog. “He had wanted a dog for years, but came up with the idea of fostering a dog (which he learned about through his favorite YouTuber who fosters) with the hope that I might agree to a temporary situation,” says Jaden’s mom, Pam. “And he was right!”    

That’s when Pam and Jaden first met Mello, a Maltese who would change their lives for the better. Mello was brought to the ASPCA in August 2016 by the NYPD after she was found abandoned and emaciated. Due to the severity of Mello’s condition, she spent some time in the ASPCA Animal Recovery Center and the Canine Annex for Recovery and Enrichment before moving in with Jaden and Pam as a foster dog in late September. 

Jaden, Mello, and Jaden's Mother

Mello was Jaden and Pam’s second foster dog, and initially, they expected to have her for around four to six weeks. However, since she was part of an NYPD case and she required extra care, Mello’s stay in our foster program took slightly longer than anticipated—close to a full year! By this point, fun-loving Mello had already found a very special place in Jaden and Pam’s hearts, so when she was finally available for adoption, the choice seemed obvious. “We really hadn’t planned on adopting a dog when we started the fostering process,” says Pam. “But, Mello found us, and she became part of our family—we couldn’t resist.” After a long year of recovering from the traumas of her past, Mello became an official member of the Spector family in August 2017. 

But the story of the Spector family doesn’t end there. During their time fostering, Jaden began to find a deeper appreciation for the ASPCA and the work we do for dogs like Mello. The ambitious kid decided that he wanted to help, and in-turn, Jaden came up with a brilliant solution to put one of his special talents—cooking—to work to help animals. “He chose to combine his culinary passion with his love of dogs and created his own doggie dessert recipe so he could sell treats, with the hope that he could raise money!” Pam says. Jaden’s Doggie Desserts (also known as Dakar’s Doggie Desserts—coined after Jaden’s middle name) then became a reality, and Jaden took his work very seriously. “He made a business plan, created an email address for his business, baked for months, packaged them and sold them in dog parks, street corners, and collected from friends who wanted to support his cause,” Pam tells us. With a starting goal of $350, Jaden has now raised close to $1,000 for the ASPCA! 

Jaden's Doggie Desserts

In another exciting twist, Jaden also recently competed on an episode of the Food Network’s Chopped Junior—and he won! Pam tells us that Jaden’s main inspiration was Mello. “He was inspired by Mello to win Chopped Junior so that he could use some of his prize money to donate to the ASPCA with the hope that it would help other dogs find homes,” she says. When asked why Jaden felt so strongly about donating some of his winnings, Pam had this to say: “Jaden feels really lucky that he was able to give Mello a home. He knows that the ASPCA was an integral part of making that happen, so he wanted to help fund the ASPCA.” 

Since his big televised win, Jaden is hoping to receive a call-back for the Chopped Junior Championship. He’s also been contacted for several auditions and sponsorships. While things continue to look bright for Jaden’s future, one thing will always stay the same—his bond with Mello, who Pam tells us, has brought them closer together as a family. 

Jaden and Mello baking treatsJaden holding Mello

“Jaden feels really proud about owning a dog,” Pam tells us. “He feels good about knowing that he is taking care of her, and he talks about her a lot with his friends. He also thinks about her when we are doing family things if she is not with us, and he wonders if she would enjoy what we are doing. For us, Mello is one important way that we bond, as she is our little girl.”

When asked what advice she and Jaden would have for someone considering adoption or fostering, Pam says, “Just ask a lot of questions and be honest with yourself about what you can manage and what you can’t. There is a good match for every dog and every person or family, and if you know what you are looking for, that dog will find you.”

Jaden’s gifts to the ASPCA will help us continue our work, and we are incredibly grateful for his contributions. However, it is Jaden’s altruism that make his story so touching. Jaden reminds us that no matter your age, you can always make a difference.

You can make a difference just like Jaden by starting your own fundraising campaign with Team ASPCA

To see more of Jaden and Mello’s adventures, you can follow them on Instagram: @melly_the_maltesse