Learning About Animals Through Service

This month, we asked the kids participating in our Helping Animals Pilot Program to share stories about their experience and what they learned. Aidan was up for the challenge and wrote the following post about the animals he got to meet, the organizations he visited and the service projects he did to help local rescued animals. Aidan is 10 years old.

Have you ever really wanted to help animals, but just don’t really know how to start? I joined the Little Helping Hands Animals Pilot Program because I love animals and want to help them in any way I can. I got to learn about three different organizations that help animals: Austin Zoo, Austin Humane Society and Austin Wildlife Rescue.

During our first workshop at Little Helping Hands, our group got to know each other and then researched one animal and shared the facts we discovered. My group chose rabbits and learned lots of interesting things about them. The leaders started talking about which organizations we would volunteer with and how they help animals right here in Austin. Then, we made blankets for the monkeys at the zoo. I felt great since I was helping the monkeys stay warm at night!

Aidan making blankets for rescued monkeys (left) and meeting a goat at Austin Zoo (right).

When we got to Austin Zoo, a tour guide took us around and told us about each animal and how they came to the zoo. I was very surprised about how badly owners could treat their animals. I learned that most animals came from zoos that didn’t have a permit to keep that type of animal or zoos that couldn’t take care of the animal. The most memorable story was that a monkey decided that it would be fun to turn on all the faucets in the house! The house flooded and the owners sent the monkey to the Austin Zoo. Our visit to the zoo was one of my favorite trips.

At Austin Humane Society, we started out by making sock warmers and cat dens for rescued pets at AHS. The tour guide took us to the cat area, where we could see cat dens that had been made by other volunteers. Megan, the dog trainer at AHS, took us to the dog area and showed us how to do a training exercise with the dogs to help them stay quiet. My favorite dog, Gabe, had only 3 legs and had cataracts. It was very sad, but he didn’t seem to mind. Finally, we went on a tour around AHS, and Megan went through an agility course with a dog to show us some of the tricks the dog could do. I loved this trip because I love dogs so much!

An employee from Austin Wildlife Rescue came to the Little Helping Hands office with a tortoise named Tito to tell us about AWR and how they help. She taught us about the different types of animals they rescue, like raccoons, baby squirrels and baby birds. Another employee was keeping 22 baby squirrels at her house and 9 baby rabbits that had to be fed around the clock every 3 hours!

Aidan feeding a rescued puppy at Austin Humane Society (left) and meeting Tito the tortoise (right).

We started to come up with our extension project topics on the last day. It could be anything to do with animals, from donating to an organization that helps animals, to actually getting out in the wild and helping animals directly. I’m making tons of dog toys to donate to different animal shelters in Austin. I feel like I learned things that will help me make a difference and help animals. Helping animals is very important and I encourage you to try the program out, too. Have fun!

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