NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — When some children get an assignment in school, they take it and run with it. That’s the case with Connor Shepherd of Hampton. He was recommended for our Children of Change segment, and as you learn more about his story, it’s not hard to see why.
“I’ve always loved animals,” said Connor.
So, this 10-year-old poured that love into a persuasive essay he wrote in the form of a letter.
“I wrote a letter to four different pet stores asking them for toys for cats and dogs.”
The homeschooler heard back from one store, the Pet Smart in Newport News.
“It was crazy. I thought it was just going to be one bag of, like, toys, but there was like a shopping cart full and it was everywhere,” laughed Connor.
The Pet Smart donated so much, Connor and his mother had to make two trips in their Jeep to pick up all of the supplies. The organization on the receiving end of all of the goodies was the Peninsula Regional Animal Shelter (PRAS).
“We were in the middle of adoption meet and greets and we just see in our vestibule these boxes of items and we’re all like, kind of looking around like, where’d it all come from?” said Tiffany Webb of PRAS.
Webb says she watched as dog beds, leashes, toys, and housing supplies just kept pouring in for the animals.
“This is a pandemic. This is a time where a lot of people might have to be limiting their supplies and things like that because we can’t go out and buy things like we used to,” said Webb.
Webb also said the fact that Connor specifically asked for toys for the animals is a big deal.
“Just the animals and their emotions and their minds, because it’s very enriching for them. We have dogs that, you know, are sometimes here for just a couple of weeks and some that are here for a couple of months because they might have behavioral things. So, all of these toys and these items are helping them, as Connor said, it is enriching their time in their kennels because it gives them something to do versus just waiting for a daily routine of walks, people visiting, and things like that. It’s ‘Oh my gosh! A new toy! Something new to play with and get treats out of’ and stuff like that, so it’s very big, especially for the emotional stability for the animals as they’re waiting [to be adopted].”
Because of Connor’s donation, PRAS was able to make 30 care packages that are sent home with the animals when they are adopted.
“This will help them transition into their new home much easier. Giving their owner just a little bit of support, you know, got some toys, they already got some new accessories to wear on their way out the door,” said Webb.
The donations from Connor didn’t only focus on dogs and cats. It included what the shelter refers to as “pocket pets” like gerbils, hamsters, rabbits, and fish.
“These are all kinds of donations that sometimes we forget about for animal shelters. Having all of these pocket pet enrichment items from dog beds to hamster wheels to reptiles, also allows us to send adopters home to feel more prepared because sometimes those are your pets that people start with as a starter pet for responsibility. So, these are really wonderful that Connor has been able to provide us to help even those feel more supported in their beginning stages of becoming a pet owner,” said Webb.
It’s safe to say Connor aced his persuasive writing assignment and is clearly a child making a positive impact on the community.
“It’s very humbling to know that there are still children out there who see that benefit and that good deed and see it through and that’s awesome,” said Webb.
If you know of a child in your community that is doing great things, Katie Collett wants to know about it so she can share their story in her Children of Change segments! You can email Katie or reach out to her on social media.