It’s very gratifying for me to see the growing number of young people who are stepping up for animals. Whether it’s expressing concern about a neighborhood dog chained day and night, or outrage at the plight of animals on factory farms, young people are getting involved. Many are turning their concern into action, and we are pleased to recognize their achievements through our youth award programs.
Our 2010 KIND Kid of the Year, 9-year-old Zach Wilson, was honored for his efforts to keep pets with their families. When he went to his local animal shelter to adopt a dog, every cage was full. After asking his mother why there were so many homeless animals, he learned that many people were forced to relinquish their pets because they could no longer afford to feed them. Zach immediately decided that he would take action to help. With the help of his parents, Zach opened the Animal Pantry of Central Florida, which now provides food for thousands of pets each month.
Alexis Ulrich was chosen as our 2010 Humane Teen of the Year for working to bring an end to the cruel Canadian seal hunt. Alexis first learned about the hunt in high school through an HSUS email. When she researched the issue, she decided to boycott Canadian seafood and encourage everyone from her mom to restaurant managers to do the same. Now a college student, Alexis has started an animal club at her university and is organizing educational workshops and tabling events on major animal cruelty issues.
One need only flip through the September/October issue of All Animals magazine to read about more humane heroes like Alexis and Zach. We’ve spotlighted kids with a cause and the remarkable ways these young advocates are channeling their affinity for animals. I know that their early start in animal protection will make them great leaders in the years to come.
If you know a young person sticking up for animals — someone who volunteers at an animal shelter, writes letters to legislators, spreads the word on Facebook, or leads an animal protection club — we’d like to hear from you. We are currently accepting applications for the 2011 Humane Teen of the Year; please help us honor youth advocates by sharing their stories through the Nov. 15 deadline. They will inspire other young people and all of us working to stop cruelty, and give us yet one more indication of a bright future for animals.