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St. Martin de Porres Academy Wins Mutt-i-grees® "America Adopts" Second Chance PSA Contest, Spreads Message That Shelter Pets Deserve Another Chance At Life

Students Share the Message of Kindness to All Creatures

PORT WASHINGTON, NY, February 4, 2013 – St. Martin de Porres Academy of New Haven, CT has won a $1,000 educational grant as one of the top three winning schools for the 2012-2013 Mutt-i-grees “America Adopts” Second Chance PSA Contest. The school’s winning video documents a group of students decorating paper grocery bags for a local store to make them into advertisements encouraging people to save the lives of pets by adopting from shelters rather than supporting pet stores, which sacrifice animal welfare for the sake of profit. The students in the video also discuss their reasons for supporting this animal life-saving work.

Schools nationwide started off the school year by participating in this important work, submitting public service announcements to the 2nd Annual Mutt-i-grees “America Adopts” PSA Contest. After the top winners of the original contest were chosen, thanks to the Mutt-i-grees “America Adopts” Second Chance PSA Contest, every school that had submitted previously had another chance to win. The top three Second Chance PSAs were chosen by popular vote, with the video that got the most plays winning.

The PSA Contest is a nationwide initiative to raise awareness of the availability and desirability of Mutt-i-grees – a term describing any dog, cat, puppy or kitten from a shelter or rescue group. It 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’s School of the 21st Century, in collaboration with North Shore Animal League America, and is funded by the Cesar Millan Foundation.

Saint Martin de Porres Academy (SMPA) has been using the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum since 2010. Many SMPA students in the 5th through 7th grades have participated in Mutt-i-grees internships at North Shore Animal League America, the world’s largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization. Therefore, according to SMPA Principal Kelly O’Leary and President Allison Rivera (who adopted her own dog, Penny, from Animal League America), the students feel a great sense of ownership regarding the topic of animal welfare and are passionate about the Mutt-i-grees message. They wanted to educate the larger community as a next step.

According to Rivera and O’Leary, the school’s peer ministry group found themselves asking, “What can we do to get the word out?” While some might not immediately recognize the connection between a social and emotional learning Curriculum that focuses on animals and the mission of a religiously affiliated school, the President and Principal explain that the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum has been a natural fit for the peer ministry group as well as the school’s religion classes. “It goes with the ethos of our school. We’re not preparing kids to be Catholic theologians,” Rivera explains. Rather, St. Martin de Porres Academy, which bears the name of the patron saint of social justice and healers, is about “other-centeredness” and “stewardship of the earth, of others.” O’Leary says that religion classes at the school ask students to consider the question, “How can I be a person for others? How can I be kind?” This year the school is excited to be expanding its implementation of the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum to include its 8th graders.

The Mutt-i-grees Curriculum team and its partners congratulate the winners and thank all who participated. To view all of the winning videos, 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 graciously funded by the Millan Foundation, the Curriculum highlights the unique characteristics and desirability of shelter dogs, known as Mutt-i-grees.

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

Animal League America 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


Devera Lynn
North Shore Animal League America
Office - 516.883.7633
Mobile - 516.474.5332
[email protected]