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Mutt-i-grees Curriculum's Teen Ambassador, Sofia Annunziata

Growing up in a house full of rescue animals and dealing with shelter animals from a young age, I always felt that humane education should be included in a child’s development. I first heard about the Mutt-i-grees® Movement on various online pages, but to be honest, I only had a vague idea as to what it was. After starting my organization, NYC Teens for Animals, in February of 2012, I was lucky enough to cross paths with one very special and inspiring Mutt-i-gree, John the dog. Because of the outpouring of support for John, his story and my work were featured in the NY Daily News. The story was shared on the Cesar Millan Foundation’s Facebook page. Shortly thereafter, I was contacted by the Cesar Millan Foundation, and they sent me some Dog Whisperer coats for a coat and blanket drive I was working on.

In December of 2012, something awesome happened. My mom received a phone call from the Cesar Millan Foundation. They invited me to North Shore Animal League America’s DogCatemy Awards Rescue Gala to sit at Cesar Millan’s table! I immediately looked up the Gala info online and went to the Mutt-i-grees website to learn more. Right then and there I decided that I wanted to be a part of the program. Then Animal League America proposed a wonderful opportunity in asking me to be a teen ambassador for the Mutt-i-grees program. I gladly accepted the honor!

I visited Animal League America to discuss the Mutt-i-grees program and get an awesome tour of the shelter facilities. I was super excited when I received an offer to do a Public Service Announcement for the Mutt-i-grees Program, with other students and actress Renée Felice Smith of NCIS: Los Angeles! I had a great time filming and got to personally meet Miss Smith. She was so nice! I believe that more celebrities need to be role models, and the ones that advocate for animals really rock!

I believe the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum is so important in schools, because not only does it teach kids about having compassion for animals, it also helps to show kids how to have compassion for each other. Thus, it assists in preventing bullying. This is sorely needed in today’s school system as it addresses the social and emotional needs of children as well as humane education.

I was looking forward to further advocating for the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum and seeing it in action when I was invited to volunteer in The Ark at Animal League America during their biggest event of the year, Pet Adoptathon®. I was amazed at how many awesome animals were there. I was even able to help unload a truck full of dogs and puppies from North Carolina. It is great to know that these dogs are being rescued from the South, where stray dogs are numerous.

Recently, I also had the pleasure of meeting a fourth-grade teacher from Queens who saw my post advocating for the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum. Not only did she order the Curriculum, but she also organizes a “Be Kind to Animals Donation Drive” every year. I got to meet her and see the posters that her students made for the drive. They collected numerous blankets and goodies for shelter animals.

I am so proud and excited to be a teen ambassador for the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum, and I continue to look forward to spreading the word about the work that is accomplished as a result of it and the dedicated staff at Animal League America.

If you’d like to respond to or comment on this post, please send us an email at info@muttigrees.org.

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