A 14-year-old animal advocate in California is dedicating her time to giving senior rescue dogs a forever home. She too experienced what it’s like to be abandoned.

At nine months old, Meena Kumar was left in a basket on a college campus in India, spending a year in an orphanage before she was adopted by a family in San Jose, CA.

She was two years old when she came to California, already possessing “a passion for animals,” the teen says. Her past left her with a strong empathy for animals left behind.

“I love dogs and I would like them to find a caring home and family just like I did,” says Meena. “The people who cared for me worked with the agency in the US to find me a lovely home and I want to provide the same support for dogs in need.”

Former Orphan Helps Adoptable Dogs

At the age of eight, Meena got her first dog from the Humane Society. “I wanted more pets and kept asking my parents to adopt more dogs,” she says. “My parents felt that adopting more dogs would be a lot of work and suggested that I think of other ways to help dogs.”

One evening she met her neighbour, Dr. Kathy Stecco, walking an older dog named George. Meena discovered that her neighbour takes care of senior dogs from Muttville, and learned about the rescue’s founder, Sherri Franklin, a 2016 CNN Hero. Meena has since become one of Muttville Senior Dog Rescue’s “most passionate” supporters, says the rescue organization.

“I did some research and saw that most senior dogs have a tough time finding a forever home,” Meena shares. “I felt that no dog should feel unloved and abandoned, and wanted to help them in some way.”

Volunteering wasn’t an option because Meena was a little too young, so she began brainstorming other ways to help, ultimately hitting upon an idea: “I decided that I would take care of dogs around my neighbourhood and donate all the money I earn to Muttville.”

Meena started Pet Fairy Services, a dog-sitting service, in 2014 and has since donated $14,000.

“When I first met Meena I knew she was something special,” says Muttville’s founder Sherri Franklin. “She has great passion for the plight of senior dogs, and her contributions have saved many lives! We are so grateful. It’s great to see a new generation picking up the cause.”

Now working towards a $25,000 goal by the end of 2020, the teen has partnered with Pebble Naturals, a human-grade pet supplement company, for a fundraising campaign. 100 percent of the profits from each bottle sold will be contributed to Meena’s fundraising campaign. (Use the code “MEENA” on pebblenaturals.com and 100 percent of the profit will be donated to Muttville.)

“Meena is a living example of how a business can be a powerful force for good. We’re so impressed by Meena’s big heart, and we’re excited to be a part of her fundraising campaign,” says Nayoung Susie Kim, one of the company’s co-founders.

Meena says family has been very supportive in her work. “Without their full support and help, I could not have done this. My entire family including my parents and grandparents have grown to love the companionship of dogs.”

Meena and her family adopted a Chihuahua Spaniel mix from Muttville that was found as a stray. “These old dogs often get euthanized just because they are older and they need more help than younger dogs at other shelters,” says Meena. “I want to help them find a forever loving home, the same way I found my forever home,” says Meena.

She encourages everyone to find ways to help animals and people in need “no matter what state they are in because it could sadly be you one day in their shoes,” she says. “Many of the senior dogs at Muttville remind me of my grandfather who passed away last year. I want to take the best care of senior dogs, the same way I took care of my grandfather. I want to help them feel at home.”

>> For more on Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, check out muttville.org.