"You're Never Too Small to Make Big Changes": 11-Year-Old Shelter Volunteer Inspires Others With Love for Animals
Few moments in life are as sweet as when a dog and a child form a bond. Now just imagine hundreds of shelter dogs waiting for the kind, soothing words of one young man with a heart three times his size who believes every rescued pooch has a story we need to hear.
When he first started school, Evan Bisnauth, 11, of Bronx, N.Y., practiced reading by sharing tales aloud to his family's dog. But he discovered a new purpose two summers ago when his mom, Amanda Persaud Bisnauth, rescued a pup who was tied to a fence and took it to one of the Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC). "She found out about this program where volunteers can read to dogs, and asked me if I wanted to volunteer at the shelter," he tells Daily Paws. "I said yes! I adore dogs."
That program, Books With Boroughbreds, helps kids improve their reading skills by doing exactly what Evan did at home. It also offers pups much-needed positive socialization and reduces anxiety.
On his first day, he spent five hours reading to every dog in the shelter. "I'd tell them at the end of the story, 'Don't give up. I have a lot of hope for you and I know you'll get adopted.'" That effort alone would be worth telling you about, but it's only the beginning of Evan's remarkable advocacy on behalf of these deserving pups.
Before the pandemic, Evan spent nearly every weekend sharing stories with the pups amidst the howls, yips, and barks. He'd also read to cats, rabbits, and guinea pigs on occasion when those rooms weren't too busy. His favorite story to read to them? Belly Rubbins for Bubbins, about a shelter dog who eventually finds a forever home.
He has a bonafide clue as to how much the doggos enjoy their reading sessions. "Sometimes [they'll] fall asleep on their back with legs in the air. That's when I know they're really happy and relaxed," he says. "I like it when they cuddle next to the cage and lay down. It makes my heart feel warm."
Using Social Media to Make a Difference
Since Evan couldn't go to the shelter during lockdown, he forged a new path, focusing solely on dogs who needed emergency placement. He created an Instagram account (@EB and the Pets), where he featured animated dog interviews and bios for shelter dogs in need of important exposure for adoption. "They're not bad dogs—they're just looking for good people," he says.
Honestly, it's one of the most touching things we've ever seen.
Evan also developed merchandise for fundraising, and donated $1,000 this year to help his local ACC.
Evan's videos show off each dog's personality and include a detailed description—these pups are practically irresistible to future pet parents, who can also follow along on the Eb and the Pets Facebook page. Since pandemic restrictions have lifted, Evan has also resumed his junior volunteer status at ACC, where he's once again reading to pups in-person and leading toy drives.
If it sounds like a lot for one kiddo to take on, you're not wrong. But proud mom Persaud Bisnauth says she isn't surprised. "Evan is a pretty focused kid and he likes to see all of his projects and passions through," she tells Daily Paws. "It's actually admirable how he divides his time to fit all of the things he's most passionate about and still have time to be a regular kid."
Well, this anything-but-regular kid and his dedication to furry creatures was recently recognized by the ASPCA with its 2021 Kid of the Year Award, which is given to a youth who's under 17 who's "made a significant contribution to animal welfare." Rather mellow about the honor, Evan says he simply wants other kids to know that "you're never too small to make big changes."
"If everybody would read to dogs and try to get them adopted, think how much difference that would make in the world," he says. Thankfully, we have him to lead the way and show the rest of us how it's done.