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Teen Helps Older Dogs Find Forever Homes

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

OK. I'm going to admit something here, Noel. My kids want a puppy to keep them company during the pandemic. So far, though, we have held off. But you, my friend, have heeded the call.

NOEL KING, HOST:

I did. I got a puppy on Sunday. He is amazing. I named him Guglielmo (ph).

MARTIN: Guglielmo? That's a whole other conversation.

KING: (Laughter) OK. Anyway, there's a 14-year-old animal lover in San Jose, Rachel, who says people should consider adopting older dogs, not just puppies.

MEENA KUMAR: I want people to understand that, like, older dogs, like - they should adopt more senior dogs. I guarantee you that they will give you the same love and unconditional affection as any other dog.

MARTIN: I believe that. That's Meena Kumar. She was adopted in India and brought to the U.S. by her parents. Meena is focused on the idea of a forever home.

MEENA: I just feel like many senior dogs do struggle to find a forever home because of their medical conditions, so I really hope that one - every one of them gets a forever home, just like I did.

MARTIN: Her mom, Jaya (ph), says it was clear early on that her daughter loved animals.

JAYA: A dog had laid a litter of puppies, you know, at the apartment complex in Mumbai, and so we would spend hours just taking her there.

KING: She loved the puppies, but older pets really have a place in her heart, like this one mutt by the name of George.

MEENA: Senior dogs are calm. They remind me of my grandfather, who is also old. And I loved George because he was so calm. And he was just very loving, and he was such a great cuddler.

KING: So Meena heard about Muttville, which is a cage-free dog rescue program for older pets.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOG BARKING)

SHERRI FRANKLIN: Stop it.

MARTIN: Sherri Franklin is the founder.

FRANKLIN: I started Muttville about 13 years ago, when there was no such thing as a senior dog rescue. Excuse me - I'm going to have to grab this one little dog. Come here, mummer (ph) - you want me to start over?

MARTIN: Meena would drop into Muttville to visit the senior dogs, but there was a problem. Here's mom.

JAYA: Actually, immediately, she wanted to go volunteer at Muttville, but she was too young because she was only 9.

KING: She was only 9. You have to be 17 years old to volunteer there, but Meena would not be dissuaded. She came up with a plan.

MEENA: A great idea popped up in my head, and that was to take care of dogs around my neighborhood and donate all the money I earned to Muttville.

KING: She raised $14,000.

MEENA: My goal is to contribute 25,000 to Muttville.

MARTIN: Franklin says Meena has become something of a VIP at the rescue center.

FRANKLIN: Muttville is honored to have her as a friend of Muttville. And also, I am so happy to know her and know that there are youth out there that have compassion like she does. She's a leader.

MARTIN: Muttville now says Meena is welcome to volunteer anytime.

(SOUNDBITE OF ALLORA MIS'S "THIN AIR") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.