Kleenex is behind this heartwarming story, so you know tissues are required.
The company recently celebrated Emmy Perry, an 11-year-old girl who founded her own non-profit, Emmy’s Hope, at the age of 7. Through Emmy’s Hope, the lifetime animal advocate helps shelter dogs find homes by fostering pets, posting about their availability on her website and social networks and keeping her furry friends comfortable with supplies.
“The catalyst for Emmy’s Hope, I remember, she was 6 years old and sat on Santa’s lap, and Santa said to her, ‘What do you want for Christmas?’ She said, ‘I want to save more dogs.’ Her dad and I heard that and realized this was obviously a passion of hers that hasn’t diminished since she was very little and that we had to make this happen for her,” Emmy’s mom, Elaine Perry, told PEOPLE. “She came up with the name and her mission: Saving animals one heart at a time.”
Emmy has a simple description for her motivation, “I saw so many dogs that needed help and I felt that I needed to help them.”
Emmy’s parents, who are long-time shelter volunteers as well, aren’t the only ones who noticed the girl’s dedication to bettering the lives of animals. It was OC Animal Care, the shelter where Emmy does a good chunk of her volunteering, and the community around the Orange County, California, shelter that contacted Kleenex to organize something memorable to recognize everything Emmy has done in just a few years.
Kleenex and OC Animal Care worked with the community and volunteers to put on a free, large-scale adoption event in Emmy’s honor, which led to the adoption of over 40 dogs that Emmy cares for.
“I thought I was going to the shelter to hand out more treats, but then I was very surprised,” Emmy said about her reaction to the event.
“Those tears you see are just uncontrollable tears that kept going the whole day. To see these dogs that she had been networking go home really meant a lot,” her mom added.
This special moment is just another chapter in a life spent dedicated to the welfare and happiness of shelter dogs. Since she was very young, Emmy has chosen to donate her allowance and birthday gifts to animals in need, instead of keeping it for herself. Not surprisingly, the young animal advocate is the proud mom to four shelter dogs — including a blind, senior Dachshund and a puppy mill reject — and a rat that was being sold at a pet store as snake bait.
“You can often times find Emmy walking around the house with four dogs following her and a rat on her shoulder,” Elaine said of her daughter’s magnetism with animals.
While 40 dogs is a big number, Emmy knows there are plenty of other canines out there who need help finding their happy endings.
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“My favorite part of working with dogs is playing with them and also when I see them get adopted, when they are kissing their owners and also the family is really happy with the dog,” she shared.
Not all of the moments are bright ones, but Emmy remains steadfast in her goal to save animals one heart at a time. Elaine recalled a recent moment where she found Emmy in tears over the scale of work that needs to be done to help all of the world’s shelter dogs.
“I told her ‘Emmy, if you ever get to the point that it’s too hard for you, you can stop,’ ” Elaine shared. “And she said ‘Mommy, if I stop and knew this was still going on that would make me more sad.’ “
To help Emmy with her mission, she recommends adopting a dog from your local shelter or from the Emmy’s Hope website, especially the senior, special needs and euthanasia list pups who have less time than others.
“They are very grateful. You can feel that they are grateful for you saving them,” she said.
For those unable to adopt, you can help Emmy’s cause by networking the dogs you find on EmmysHope.com on your own social networks and by donating supplies to animal shelters through Emmy’s website.