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PETA Member Works Across Generations to Help Animals

Posted by at 6:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (21)


susanhargreavesEvery one of the 250 children raised their hands to Principal Wanda Heidelburg’s question: “Who here likes animals?” In the front-row bench of the cafeteria, kindergarteners dangled their feet at least 4 to 6 inches above the floor. An expectant murmur hummed through the cavernous space as Ms. Heidelburg introduced this morning’s “special” guest.

What a treat to be part of this special assembly at Lenora Braynon Smith Elementary School in Miami, Florida. I was there to honor a very special young student, Janika, with an Extraordinary Animal Hero Award, but I wasn’t alone. Waiting in the wings was a rescued three-legged puppy named Winnie, licking the face of her foster mother.

The children were rapt with attention as I told stories and showed illuminated photographs of the dogs, cats, pigs, and birds who were rescued by the brave, compassionate acts of other children. I then told Winnie’s story.

While out playing one day, a group of seven children saw someone attempting to force Winnie down a sewer gate. One of the children ran to a woman in the neighborhood known to be friendly to dogs, who, with the help of another concerned neighbor, retrieved the dog. Unfortunately, one of Winnie’s legs was badly broken and had to be amputated, but it is likely the quick, humane action of the children that saved Winnie’s life.

When it was time to introduce Winnie, I told the children, “Now I have a very special guest who is shy and can easily be scared by noise.” A complete silence descended. The curtains opened and Winnie the puppy watched as I presented 9-year-old Janika with her Extraordinary Animal Hero Award. She was one of seven children who did the right thing when they saw Winnie. Thanks to their kind, heroic efforts, Winnie was still alive to captivate the young audience with her exuberantly energetic three-legged gallop across the stage.

Winnie and Janika’s story is another example of why I believe that to end cruelty to animals, we must focus on educating children, as they hold the key to the future. Children naturally tend toward humane choices, and we must foster, cultivate, and reward this behavior. I wanted to honor Janika not simply to reward her personally, which she absolutely deserved, but also to use her courage and kindness as a positive example to other young people.

I’ve struggled for 27 years to help end the monstrous mountain of animal abuse-a time dedicated to activism, direct action, colorful protests, wildlife rehabilitation and release, humane education, and a constant reevaluation of the most effective use of my skills and time. I never question whether or not the time I spend educating young people is effective, as the investment of time always returns itself tenfold.

How about you? Do you have any examples of working across generations to save animals?

– posted by Susan Hargreaves, Guest Blogger

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21 Comments

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    Cyndy Roseman-Puccio says...

    January 26th, 2009, 9:25 am

    Working for a farm animal rescue organization, I know of two beautiful animals, a sheep and a goat, who would not be here but for the interference and love of three young girls. The sheep, Chico, was used at a summer camp and then was going to slaughter when two girls stepped in and begged to take him to Farm Sanctuary; he now lives happily with the other sheep. Clarabell was at a petting zoo and was in pretty bad shape when her young rescuer took her to the vet where, fortunately, the cruelty investigator was waiting to speak with the vet. Clarabell loves everyone and can’t wait to greet any visitor.

    Mike says...

    January 26th, 2009, 11:32 am

    Once a child knows that cruelty is not aceptable, they will do the right thing, or at least seek out a careing adult to help.

    The dedicated people who pass on these lessons, parents, teachers volunteers of every nature, are the reason children grow into careing adults, and pass these feelings on.

    Bless the teachers.

    Pauline says...

    January 26th, 2009, 12:34 pm

    What a wonderful article by Susan Hargreaves! It’s always nice to hear of good children who are caring and doing kinds acts for animals – so often we hear so many bad stories of kids on the news.

    Two thumbs up to Susan Hargreaves for her dedication to help stop animal abuse by instilling humane education wherever she goes and promoting goodwill and kindness to all. A true humanitarian.

    Rebecca says...

    January 27th, 2009, 9:12 am

    Wow. Just another reminder that humane education and teaching a compassionate approach is so important. Early exposure to a more compassionate and loving approach to all beings sets the groundwork for a life of compassionate living.

    Andrew says...

    January 27th, 2009, 4:43 pm

    Well written article! Kudos to Susan and her unwaivering dedication to animal protection and education. We need more people in the world like her!

    Sue Wagner says...

    January 27th, 2009, 8:18 pm

    I’m so glad we have people like Susan Hargreaves to help raise awareness of animal abuse. This was such a great story of compassion and caring.

    Cassandra says...

    January 27th, 2009, 11:44 pm

    :)
    this was a very nice article- and well written.
    it made me realize that even 1 person can make a difference!
    keep up the good work (animal saving, and educating children)

    Susan Hargreaves says...

    January 28th, 2009, 5:44 pm

    Thank you for the stories about Chico and Clarabell, happy Farm Sanctuary residents. I am curious, if the child who rescued Clarabel from the petting zoo had called the animal cruelty investigator who was waiting at the vet and if so, how had she known who to call ?

    Thank you for all of the great comments, I’ve never written a blog before, if this was a blog, which I guess it was.

    On a related note, I have just read about an ADA study who found 11% of young female teens are vegetarian, how’s that for helping animals ?

    Susan Hargreaves

    Marnette Pennington says...

    January 28th, 2009, 8:43 pm

    This web site is a true inspiration. As a nation we pride ourselves as being astute intelligent people. Yet most of us have witnessed abuse of animals. Many tend to accept this abuse, because they don’t want to get involved. We must get involved. We must accept responsibility. These animals deserve it. My family fosters abused pets, and the rewards for doing this have been numerous. We must tell our families, our friends, and yes anyone that will listen that a random act of kindness is a necessity in being a good person. Take action. Donate money, contact shelter asking for there needs. Check on your neighbors especially the elderly to see if they and their animals are okay. Stand up for animals. I promise they would do it for you. Ms. Hargreaves has set an example that we all need to follow. I applaud your efforts and I feel that because of you and your hard work other will follow. Thank You!

    Cyndy Roseman-Puccio says...

    January 29th, 2009, 9:30 am

    Susan, in answer to your question. It was the Farm Sanctuary cruelty investigator and he was waiting to talk with the vet on another cruelty case (which, also, resulted in a rescue), so he just happened to be there at the right time and place.

    For Clarabell’s full story, see http://www.farmsanctuary.org/rescue/rescues/2008/clarabell.html.

    Madeline says...

    January 29th, 2009, 5:25 pm

    Great to read an article about children brave enough to help stop cruelty to an animal. It gives us hope for the future that with humane education more children will help protect all types of animals from abuse.

    Cherise says...

    January 30th, 2009, 12:05 pm

    I applaud these rescuers of Winnie ,and Susan for not missing an opportunity to recognize them.

    Carol Lenahan says...

    January 30th, 2009, 3:05 pm

    Wonderful story on “Winnie”. I have long been concerned about teaching children at a very early age about compassion and the humane treatment of not only animals but all living creatures which children often encounter throughout their lives (Insects, frogs,snakes, etc). Is there any type of formal program already established that could be presented to the local school administrators for possible implementation in the local schools? I have a really good relationship with the superintendent and principals in this area and would be very willing to get seriously involved. I think this education is sadly lacking and so critical to our becoming a more civilized society. Thank you.

    Pamela says...

    January 30th, 2009, 3:08 pm

    This is a wonderful story, very inspiring. Yet another illustration of how important it is to educate children to the humane treatment of animals. Thank you.

    Stephanie says...

    January 30th, 2009, 6:02 pm

    Carol, you might want to look into Share the World. It’s a free program for classroom use with younger students. It includes a film, workbook, activities, and discussion topics. The program is through PETA, and you can just request the materials at http://www.sharetheworld.org/

    Gordon Currie says...

    January 30th, 2009, 6:52 pm

    January 30th I enjoyed the story, keep up the good work. Thanks

    james tyrrell says...

    January 30th, 2009, 7:38 pm

    Great article susan so important to teach our children because they are our future,after reading this story i still have faith in humanity.keep up the good work susan

    Gordon Currie says...

    January 30th, 2009, 9:59 pm

    Glad to see you raising awarness about animal abuse.What an insperation to all of us thank you for all you do for those who cannot speak for themselves.

    Susan Hargreaves says...

    January 31st, 2009, 1:47 pm

    Hello Carol L.

    What area do you have contacts with the school superintendant…etc..? Teachkind.org is a great international org that offers free resources to teachers. HumaneEducators.com have options also.

    The time has come to have humane education taught as a subject in school, in this era of school bullying, and violence, the time is ripe. Being compassionate and empathetic is a vital life skill that needs to be fostered.
    I would love to help with humane ed in your locale. Thank you.

    Wendy Dearing says...

    February 4th, 2009, 6:33 pm

    What a wonderful story! I am a middle school teacher and animal rights is a major passion of mine. I put up pictures of the groups I am involved in and many issues I am against (Circuses, pig farms, etc). I teach compassion among all students, but also for animals. I talk about donating time and items to shelter. Every year, I hear stories about my students saving animals and their understanding for more rights for all types of animals, not just pets, grow. I feel that if you can inspire a few children, they will share this with others and hopefully stop or not even start to abuse animals!

    Sylvee says...

    February 5th, 2009, 2:37 pm

    Awesome story!
    This just shows that when you teach a child ethics, they carry it with them always. Children know what we show and tell them. They listen! Im sure if there were other children who didnt know or care about another being harmed, and this includes humans as well; they would have just laughed it off and kept playing as if nothing ever happened and Winnie’s outcome could have been worse. Susan you have definitely been a light in many lives over your years, please continue to shine.

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