Pint-size Brianna Katz perches on the edge of a chair at Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy in Overland Park. Preparing to make an impassioned sales pitch, she furrows her brow, makes direct eye contact and leans forward, pushing a sheet of paper across the table.
“Will you sign this, please? It’s a petition to stop puppy mills.”
|Brianna Katz at Wayside Waifs in Kansas City, Missouri.|
Indeed, the form is emblazoned with bold capital letters and a smattering of exclamation marks: STOP PUPPY MILLS!!!!! followed by a heart-wrenching and simply composed paragraph explaining the horrors of factory-like conditions imposed on thousands of dogs.
Katz is just a third grader, yet her passion for animals is anything but elementary. A bookworm—her current reading list boasts nearly six titles—Katz became concerned about the cruelty of puppy mills after reading the popular Puppy Place series. Written by dog lover Ellen Miles, the 27 books star lovable pups like Noodle, Rocky and Princess and carry a message of hope for rescued dogs that need a forever home.
Chewy and Chica, Miles’ tale of two feisty puppy-mill-bred Chihuahuas eventually adopted by a family, especially resonated with Katz.
“I learned puppy mill dogs are kept in small, wired, dirty cages, eat once a day and have lots of babies,” says an earnest Katz, who has three cats and loves animals—even her friend Ilana’s pet snake, Bill. “That’s not okay.”
Katz also discovered that Missouri is a national hot spot for puppy mills. She decided to organize a petition drive with the focus on stopping them. Currently, she has nearly 300 signatures. Realistically, the youngster knows that the 600 signatures she hopes to secure won’t necessarily change the injustice to her innocent four-legged friends overnight, but that’s not the point. She wants attention for the problem by the Missouri legislature and eventually the White House, and she knows that one person can make a difference.
Even a third grade voice.
BY PUPULAR DEMAND: “My brother Jacob, my mom and dad Vicki and Gary and my grandma and my grandpa who had Alzheimer’s support my campaign. So do my friends and teachers.”
PRESIDENTIAL BID: “I want to get my Stop Puppy Mills!!!!! campaign to President Obama.”
TALK TO THE ANIMALS: “If animals could talk, I would tell a puppy mill dog, ‘I’m very sorry for what someone has done to you.’”
To sign Brianna Katz’s STOP PUPPY MILLS!!!!! petition, stop by the front office at Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy at 5801 W. 115 St., Overland Park, Kan.