Tyler McGee, 13, Apple Valley, California
Thirteen-year old Tyler (right in photo) and his sidekick Shadow, a Welsh Corgi, work to improve the lives of others in their community, by sharing that one-of-a-kind sense of joy and well-being that comes from an animal's loving presence. It all began when Tyler visited his brother in the hospital and noticed a "therapy" dog was there to cheer patients up. He immediately knew that he and his cherished dog, Shadow, could offer others the same joy. Tyler and Shadow now spend five to twelve hours a week, visiting hospitals and nursing homes. Tyler knows that Shadow helps cheer the elderly residents. "Shadow helps brings back good memories for them," he says, "and they tell us all about the animals they used to have."
Tyler and Shadow have also become a certified READ team, going to schools and libraries to help younger children improve literacy skills. More than just helping them read, Tyler believes Shadow helps them in other ways. "Some of the kids have a fear of dogs," he says, "and being with Shadow helps them get over their fears. He just lays there, and he licks their hands and then they start petting him and pretty soon they can't get enough of Shadow." According to Tyler, Shadow understands he's helping the kids. "Every time a kid sits down to read, he puts his head on their lap and looks interested [in their story] and looks at the pictures."
So they always have plenty to read, two years ago, Tyler organized Paws to READ Agility Fun Run, an event whose entrance fee is a book donated to the READ program. This year's Agility Fun Run resulted in 147 books and $1,000 in donations for the program.Abigail Rikas, 13, York, Pennsylvania
Thirteen-year old Abigail "Abbey" Rikas was known as Little Miss Doolittle. But as a 2005 BKA runner up, Abbey will be officially known as Little Miss Do-A-Lot.
Now an avid horse lover, Abbey first fell in love with the animals at Lost and Found Horse Rescue. She's quick to admit that horses are her favorite animals. "They're so intelligent!" she adds.
Abbey decided to conduct a fundraiser to help Lost and Found Horse Rescue with their work. She created a school-wide "penny war" fundraiser, whose proceeds would go to the rescue group. Although Little Miss Do-A-Lot wanted to raise money to save one horse ($400), with the help of her classmates, the week-long fundraiser exceeded $2,000 in profits enough to save five horses! Thanks to Abbey's efforts, two horses have been adopted to loving homes, while the rest of the money was put to use providing for the other "orphans."
At the moment, Abbey is too young to volunteer at the Lost and Found Rescue, instead she donates most of her allowance to the SPCA while caring for her many animals (a puppy
, two turtles, two rabbits, tadpoles, schools of fish, and her cat). Abbey's love and passion for animals has inspired her to be a veterinarian one day and have a horse of her own. "I think God put animals on this earth for a reason," she explains, "and we should respect them because it's their world too." About American Humane
Founded in 1877, the American Humane Association is the nation's only organization dedicated to protecting both children and animals. Through a network of child and animal welfare and protection agencies and individuals, American Humane develops policies, legislation, curriculum, and trainings to protect children and animals from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. The nonprofit membership organization, headquartered in Denver, raises awareness about The Link® between animal abuse and other forms of violence, as well as the benefits derived from the human and animal bond. American Humane's regional office in Los Angeles is the authority behind the "No Animals Were Harmed..."® End Credit Disclaimer on TV and film productions, and American Humane's office in Washington, DC, is an advocate for child- and animal-friendly legislation at the state and federal levels. Visit www.americanhumane.org
to learn more.