Last month, 11-year-old Haley Ham of Tennessee wrote to us about her two beloved dogs, Sam and Jessie:
"From the time I was 7 and he was just 8 weeks old, I knew Sam belonged to me. We were inseparable. Jessie was big and affectionate. He would follow me around the neighborhood and when I visited my friends he would wait by the door for me. He was like a guardian. I really loved him, and I’ll never forget his loyalty to me."
Haley with a photo of Sam.
Haley then sadly reported that last April she lost these two best friends to antifreeze poisoning. In her letter, she continued, "Sam and Jessie suffered so much, I couldn’t believe something so deadly was just sold at nearly every store."
Heartbroken but moved to do something, Haley embarked on a campaign to require a bittering agent be added to antifreeze sold in Tennessee, making the normally sweet substance unpalatable to pets, wildlife or small children. Five states have already passed legislation requiring the additive, and several more are considering bills.
In the wake of her tremendous loss, Haley wrote letters to all of her state legislators and collected hundreds of signatures of support at her county fair and through an Internet petition.
State Sen. Raymond Finney agreed to help. He introduced S.B. 2399, which would require that antifreeze sold in the state contain the bittering agent. State Rep. Janis Sontany introduced the companion bill, H.B. 2808.
Finney recently sat down with Haley and her mother, and HSUS Tennessee State Director Leighann McCollum, to plan a strategy for the bill’s passage. And yesterday, Haley spoke before the Senate at a hearing on the bill, and served as a Senate page for the day.
Hats off to Haley, an incredible kid on a mission to spare countless children and animals from horrible suffering. Because of her efforts, today Humane Society Youth named Haley its KIND Kid for 2008. We hope her story inspires people of all ages to turn love and concern for animals into action.