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South Side Junior High School Wins $1,500 Grant As Regional Winners Of The 2nd Annual Mutt-i-grees® “America Adopts” PSA Contest With Their Message, “I Did It”

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 (2nd from left), NSALA President John Stevenson (3rd from left), and Associate Director, Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy Director, Yale School of the 21st Century, Dr. Matia Finn-Stevenson (far right) present a $1,500 educational grant to Regional Prize Winners of the Mutt-i-grees “America Adopts” PSA Contest. Educators from South Side Jr. High School in Bee Branch, AR, 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): Deb Swink, Special Education Director; Millan; Stevenson; Natalie Horton, SBMH Counselor/Mutt-i-grees Teacher; Travis Love, Elementary Principal; Judy Clay, Early Childhood Director; Tim Smith, High School Principal, and Finn-Stevenson.


BEE BRANCH, AR (January 2, 2013) – South Side Junior High School is among the winners of the 2nd Annual Mutt-i-grees “America Adopts” PSA Contest. As Regional Winners, the School has received a $1,500 educational grant for their PSA, “I Did It.” 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 focus of the PSA is on real people in the students’ community who have adopted pets. Using a classic athletic shoe campaign slogan as a model, they made up their own slogan, but this one was about pet adoption. The refrain of their PSA became simply, “I did it!”

According to Natalie Horton, school-based mental health school counselor for South Side Bee Branch Schools who also teaches Mutt-i-grees classes, once the contest was announced at the school, it didn’t take much to get the discussion going among the 7th and 8th grade students already familiar with the Curriculum. In order to brainstorm, they started by talking about people they knew who had adopted pets. “Everyone always wants to talk about their dogs in class,” Natalie says. Located on a small campus in a rural area, children in Bee Branch not only know a lot of people who have dogs; sadly, they have also become accustomed over the years to seeing large numbers of unwanted animals being abandoned.

Horton describes the project as “a real collaborative effort.” The school’s video-editing class was happy to help out. One student, Clay, who is Vice President of the M.U.T.T.S. club (Motivated, Understanding, Thoughtful Teenage Students), lives on a farm; his dog couldn’t travel to the school to be filmed, so students brought a camera to the farm to film there instead. The proud pet adopters in the video include students’ families as well as school faculty.

Natalie says that before the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum was introduced to the schools, people hadn’t necessarily thought too much about how many dogs were homeless. Today, Natalie says of Bee Branch families, “Their brothers and sisters know about the Curriculum. Their parents know.” The Curriculum ultimately helped in bringing awareness of the plight of these animals to the area.

“The students at Bee Branch Junior High 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 student’s PSA mirrored the Curriculum’s core values: fostering empathy, compassion and responsible decision-making.”

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 the Animal League 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:

Natalie Horton
South Side Junior High School
[email protected]

Devera Lynn
North Shore Animal League America
[email protected]