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Carrie Palmer Weber Middle School Of Port Washington, NY Wins $10,000 Grant As Grand Prize Winners Of The 2nd Annual Mutt-i-grees® “America Adopts” PSA Contest With Their Message, “Everybody Needs a Friend”

World-Renowned Dog Behavior Specialist Cesar Millan Presents Educators with Prize- Winning Check at Annual Rescue Awards in New York City

Renowned dog behavior specialist Cesar Millan (left) and NSALA President John Stevenson (2nd from right) present a $10,000 educational grant to the Grand Prize Winners of the Mutt-i-grees “America Adopts” PSA Contest. Students and educators from Carrie Palmer Weber Middle School in Port Washington, NY, attended the 2012 DogCatemy Mutt-i-grees Rescue Awards Gala at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, where the check was presented. In attendance (left to right): Millan; Steven Russo, student; Daniel Ciccone, technology teacher; Joanna Zolli, student; Marilyn Rodahan, Principal, Stevenson, and Thomas Stepanek, technology teacher.


PORT WASHINGTON, NY, January 2, 2013 – Carrie Palmer Weber Middle School in Port Washington, NY is the Grand Prize Winner of the 2nd Annual Mutt-i-grees “America Adopts” PSA Contest. As Grand Prize Winners, the school has received a $10,000 educational grant for their PSA “Everybody Needs a Friend.” The check was presented to school representatives by world-renowned Dog Behavior Specialist Cesar Millan at North Shore Animal League America’s DogCatemy Mutt-i-grees Rescue Awards Gala on December 17, 2012 in New York City.

The PSA Contest is a nationwide initiative to raise awareness of the availability and desirability of shelter pets, otherwise known as Mutt-i-grees. Students from across the country submitted creative PSAs encouraging Americans to adopt from their local shelter or rescue group. The contest reflects the essence of the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum, a unique approach to teaching children social and emotional skills as well as highlighting the individual characteristics and needs of Mutt-i-grees. The Curriculum was developed by Yale University School of the 21st Century in collaboration with North Shore Animal League America and funded by the Cesar Millan Foundation.

The Grand Prize Winners are made up of a group of nine 7th graders from Carrie Palmer Weber Middle School in Port Washington, NY. Their extraordinarily poignant video, “Everybody Needs a Friend,” illustrates the loneliness and isolation that is shared by both people and animals through the eyes of a lonely 12-year old boy and a homeless dog. The video concludes with students observing as the dog and boy discover the benefits of companionship with one another.

The students have been attending school assemblies about bullying. This, they said, led them to the correlation between the emotions that kids feel when they are bullied – isolated and lonely – and the emotions shelter animals might feel.

The students’ own experiences with the topics at hand clearly helped fuel their passion for the subject matter, too. Twelve-year-old Tessa Weiner explains that everyone can remember what it had been like to be at a new school the previous year and not know a lot of people yet. “I felt very isolated my 6th grade year,” she confesses.

“The students at Carrie Palmer Weber Middle School really captured the essence of what we teach in the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum,” said Cesar Millan. “The Curriculum seeks to enhance children’s ability to consider another’s perspective—whether an animal or person—and the impact of one’s actions. The students’ PSA mirrored the Curriculum’s core values: fostering empathy, compassion, and responsible decision-making.”

The narrator of the PSA explains how the term “Mutt-i-gree” helps us better think about empathy and acceptance of all living beings. “Just as families and individuals who adopt animals come from all different races and ethnicities,” the narrator explains, “shelter pets come from many different breeds and environments and are affectionately known as ‘Mutt-i-grees’, a name that celebrates their diversity and individuality.”

The group of nine students didn’t know each other before they began visiting their former Technology teachers Danny Ciccone and Tommy Stepanek at lunchtime, forming an unofficial “lunch club.” But when their teachers told them about the national PSA competition, the “lunch club” switched into high gear and produced their winning video in just a few days. The nine winning students are all 12-years-old: Allie Barasch, Sarahi Interiano, Edward Malino, Jacob McElroy, Travis Paul, Jordan Ramos, Steven Russo, Tessa Weiner and Joanna Zolli.

The school plans to use the $10,000 grant for video and production equipment to help foster future student collaborations, including a video display in the school’s hallway so that student-produced work can be seen by everyone in the building on a regular basis.

The contest was open to schools that teach children in any, or all, of the following Grades: Pre-K, Kindergarten and Grades 1-8. The PSAs were judged by a panel of experts from both Animal League America and The Cesar Millan Foundation based on originality, creativity and persuasiveness. The PSA Contest is a nationwide initiative and collaboration of North Shore Animal League America, the Yale University School of the 21st Century and the Cesar Millan Foundation.

To learn more about the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum or to view all of the winning PSAs visit


The Mutt-i-grees “America Adopts” Second Chance PSA Contest gives all runner-up schools that submitted a public service announcement to this year’s contest a second chance at winning. Of the schools still in the running, the top three will be chosen by popular vote.

The video that gets the most plays wins a $1,500 grant for the school of the students who made it. Second and third-place prizes will be $1,000 and $500, respectively. Everyone is encouraged to help their favorite school win. For contest rules, a list of the winners and videos still in the running, please visit

The Mutt-i-grees Curriculum is an innovative program that builds on the affinity between children and animals, providing a unique context to teach compassion, empathy and social responsibility. Developed by the Yale School of the 21st Century in collaboration with North Shore Animal League America, and funded by the Cesar Millan Foundation, the Curriculum highlights the unique characteristics and desirability of shelter dogs, known as Mutt-i-grees. To learn more, visit

The Animal League has saved more than 1,000,000 lives. As the world’s largest no-kill rescue and adoption organization, we understand that a rescue isn’t complete until each animal is placed into a loving home. Our innovative programs provide education to reduce animal cruelty and advance standards in animal welfare. Our staff and volunteers work tirelessly in the pursuit of our vision of a world where all companion animals find permanent homes to end euthanasia. For more information, visit

Animal activist and world-renowned dog behaviorist Cesar Millan officially established the Cesar Millan Foundation with the mission to create and deliver community humane education programs and promote animal welfare. Since its inception in 2007, the Cesar Millan Foundation has provided grants and materials to hundreds of non-profit animal organizations to support the rescue, rehabilitation, and rehoming of abused and abandoned dogs; donated emergency assistance through the Daddy's Emergency Animal Rescue (DEAR) Fund, and contributed critical funding and professional insight to develop The Mutt-i-grees Curriculum with The Pet Savers Foundation, in collaboration with the Yale University School of the 21st Century. For more information visit

Media Contacts:

Marilyn Rodahan, Principal
Carrie Palmer Weber Middle School
[email protected]

Devera Lynn
North Shore Animal League America
[email protected]