Some of the smallest people have the biggest hearts when it comes to animals. Take Willa Morvan for example. She’s only eight years old, but in her short life she has shown more kindness, selflessness and generosity to homeless animals than many of us can claim for a lifetime. And she’s rounded up her friends to help, too. Aptly named the Rescue Warriors, they’ve been making a big difference in the lives of SPCA animals.
Each year there are thousands of homeless animals at the SPCA and other registered rescues across Nova Scotia, and there are lots of great ways for kids to help them. Here are some favourites.
Ask for birthday donations
Kids can ask family and friends to bring donations for homeless animals instead of birthday presents. That’s what Morvan did. For her birthday, she decided that there was nothing she wanted more than to make animals in need happy. She asked for money and made a donation to the SPCA. Her mom, Amanda, says they’re starting to see a heartwarming trend toward kids giving rather than receiving.
Organize a fun fundraiser
Kids can organize fundraisers like lemonade stands, bake sales and car washes in their neighbourhood or at church or school to raise money for homeless animals. They can also collect recyclable cans, take them to the local recycling centre and donate the proceeds to a shelter or rescue. Each summer, the Rescue Warriors set up a lemonade stand with proceeds going to the SPCA.
Conduct a wish list drive
Kids can ask their teachers if they can lead a donation drive at their school to collect items that shelter animals need, like food, toys, beds, towels and blankets. Or they can get creative by hosting a movie night or ice cream party for friends, with a wish list item as admission. The SPCA’s wish list for animals can be found at spcans.ca/how-to-help/make-a-donation/wishlist/.
Have a friendly competition at school
Kids can hold a pop can or coin drive with a catchy name such as Pop Cans for Pets, Cans for Cats or Dimes for Dogs and make it a competition between classes, grades or the entire school. Winners can receive awards such as Top Crusaders for Cats or Dogs’ Best Friends.
Educate friends and family
Kids can play an important role in helping people understand that spaying/neutering their pets can help reduce the number of homeless animals. They can make bookmarks, posters or write a report for class about the importance of spaying/neutering your pet.
Adopt pets from the SPCA or a registered rescue
Morvan encourages kids to lead by example by adopting a homeless pet, rather than buying one from a pet store. For her part, she adores her ‘big fluffy adopted dog’ Winston. Her mom relates that ‘adopting a pet was a terrific experience for our family’ and ‘knowing where and why Winston came from led to a sense of social responsibility and good feelings.’
Foster an animal
Kids can ask their parents to help them foster a homeless animal. They’ll be helping two animals: the one they foster and another one who will get a place in the shelter.
Lead by example
Along with their parents, kids can make sure their family’s pets are spayed/neutered, have up-to-date vaccinations, ID tags and a microchip in case they get lost. Morvan’s parents lead by example by involving their kids in caring daily for their dog, avoiding activities that include captive animals and talking about the unfortunate situations many animals find themselves in.
Let’s give a huge round of ‘a-paws’ to kids like the Rescue Warriors who are doing amazing things to help homeless animals. Let’s encourage other kids to become heroes for homeless animals, too.
Judy Layne lives in Hackett’s Cove with her husband and their two adopted pets. A lifelong animal lover, Judy is a volunteer with the NS SPCA.