Teens Saving Pets, part 1: A helping hand for abandoned horses

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Amanda Smith

Dosomething.org helps teens who want to make an impact in their community by offering information and resources to do so.

Recently, they offered Animal Action Grants of a whopping $500 to young people working to help animals! I was lucky enough to interview three of the winners: Amanda Smith, Hayden Whitt and Maggie Maxwell. They truly are inspirational! (Meet all the winners here.)

This is my interview with Amanda Smith is a 17-year-old from Rochester, Minnesota. I’ll post my interviews with Hayden and Maggie in coming weeks.

What is your project?
My project is to help promote RIDE of Rochester. RIDE stands for
Rescue/Recreation Involving Deserving Equine. It promotes the rescue and rehabilitation of horses in need, safe and responsible horse ownership and the
advancement of animal-assisted therapeutic programming for humans.

RIDE’s hard work is entirely volunteer-driven and donor-funded. RIDE’s
network of foster homes, care providers, therapists and other
volunteers help humans and horses in a variety of situations with many
levels of need.

A problem is commonly occurring throughout the
Rochester area: Neglected or abandoned horses are being left to starve
and die. When this happens, RIDE steps in to save these horses on the
verge of death. An example is a pony named Grandma. Grandma was
left to die and was in the nastiest body condition. RIDE was there to
rescue her and rehabilitate her to increase her weight and to get her
health back.

A major problem for RIDE is that the public is unaware of
its existence! I started an Animal Welfare Club at my high school and
we will get together to do the project. 


How did your passion for animals start?
I have always been passionate about animals ever since I can remember.
As I was growing up, we always had “family meetings” and every time I
would raise my hand and ask for a dog. It always was denied. When I was
younger I had hamsters — not too thrilling, but I still loved them. Then
I got a guinea pig in middle school, but was still asking for a dog.

I
was volunteering at a local animal shelter and absolutely fell in love
with one of the dogs there and amazingly convinced my parents to get me a dog. It only took 15 years, ha ha. I always thought
that I’m abnormally in love with animals. I’ve volunteered at two local
animal shelters and am now helping with RIDE. I’m doing a mentorship
currently at a veterinary hospital for small animals and next semester
a mentorship with a large-animal veterinarian.

I would love for my
passion for animals to expand into my career. Now that I’m a
senior, I just enrolled in the University of Minnesota and will take classes
in Animal Science. I would love to work as a veterinarian or
behaviorist at an animal shelter or humane society in the future.

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Knight Rider is a Gypsy Drum stallion who was rescued by and is in rehab with RIDE of Rochester

How did you know that this was
what you wanted to do to help animals?


I helped with RIDE because the advisor of my club is part of the board
committee and is helping get the new organization going. I thought that
if we promoted it, it could help them a lot. We went out and visited
the horses, and it was just heartbreaking to see all the abandoned and
neglected horses.

What are some obstacles you’re facing with your
project? How do you plan to overcome them?

The biggest obstacle is
just getting lots of people from my club to meet to get work done.
Before Christmas break we decided that we would have weekly meetings
that are always at the same time.

How do you plan to use the Animal Grant from Dosomething.org?

The
ways that we will promote RIDE will be:

  1. Design t-shirts with RIDE logos and attractive quotes. Profits from sales of the t-shirts
    could then be used by the organization in various
    ways; for example, to buy hay, a horse trailer, or antibiotics.
    I have designed
    t-shirts for Spanish Clubs, Rachel’s Challenge, the Animal Welfare
    Club, soccer teams and others which have always been a hit!

  2. Provide RIDE with the opportunities to get a big
    article/advertisement published in the local newspaper, the Post
    Bulletin
    , or an interview on a local radio station. The newspaper
    article would help stress the importance of the current problem of
    abandoned horses in the area, which many people aren’t aware of.
    The phone number and address of RIDE are not even in the local
    telephone book, so getting the organization’s name out could gain lots of attention and bring in more volunteers, donations and awareness.

  3. Go to local pet stores and other stores that sell horse goods to
    hang up posters with information about the issue and about RIDE. Another way to utilize these stores would be to hold a type of benefit there, such as a providing them with a coin jar
    or donation bin that customers can use to provide donations
    to RIDE.

  4. Make business cards with RIDE’s organization information
    (e-mail, address, phone number, objectives, etc.) and develop a “wish
    list” for the public to take so that they can help contribute items
    needed by RIDE that the organization might not be able to afford.

What message would you give anyone who is looking to help animals,
but doesn’t know where to start?


I think the first thing to do is stop by your local animal shelter and
ask how you can volunteer! Have no time to walk the dogs or play with
the kitties? Donate some supplies — they always are in need of something.
Or just by the word of mouth, teach others about animal cruelty and
homeless pets. Tell people to not buy a dog from a breeder or a pet
shop, but to adopt a pet. They are amazing and what is better than
saving a life?

How else has Dosomething.org helped your project and in what ways do
you think this site is beneficial to teens everywhere?


This grant helped my club sooooo much. We started with zero dollars,
and didn’t even know where to start. This helped us to get a detailed plan
and to know that we will actually change the lives of some animals.
When I came across Dosomething.org I was amazed. I didn’t know there was
such a site until I was just searching around for ideas for my Animal
Welfare Club. I think the information and the grants help teens change
the world. There are many teens out there who have a heart but just
don’t have the money to do it. Dosomething.org is an unbelievable
organization.

Next week, read my interview with Hayden Whitt, a 14-year-old who, as a volunteer at his local animal shelter, worked with other volunteers to raise money for the shelter to
buy much-needed medical supplies and food.