Monday, October 6, 2008

An eight-year-old dreams of helping animals

Shelby the puppy is cuddled by animal rescuers in training: Molly Foster, 10 (left), and Simone Foster, 8 (right.)

Kids have an astonishing capacity to go out of their way to help animals in need. They are observant, and tend to be more intuitive about the issues facing animals than the average adult, who might allow convenience to override common sense.

Recently I found a German Shepherd puppy digging through a trash bin in Winnipeg. The adults in the neighborhood had no idea who the pup belonged to and had no interest in finding out, but two kids aged about five and seven who were visiting the city from Western Europe with their parents knew exactly where the pup lived – “in the pink house.” Sure enough, they were correct. They were determined to get the dog home safely. Their parents dug out a rope in a friend’s garage, and with the kids’ help we made a leash. A parade of helpers returned the dog to the pink house.

Simone Foster, an eight-year-old who lives in Canada near Toronto, Ontario is another child who worries about the safety of pets in her neighborhood. She’s particularly sensitive to animals she’s seen displayed in pet stores.

“I don’t like seeing them in a plain blue crate with nothing to play with,” Simone says. “Most of the animals in the pet store don’t have much room, so they look depressed.”

Simone, an avid collector of dog magazines, hopes to be an animal rescuer when she’s old enough. To support her rescue career, she plans to open a pet supply store or become a veterinarian.

This past weekend, Simone called animal control for help when she found a stray Shih Tzu running on the nearby train tracks.

“People worry about their kids going missing more than their animals going missing, so I think it’s important to have animal rescuers,” says Simone. “Losing an animal should be just like when a kid goes missing.”

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