9:53 AM PST, November 9, 2021
Eleven-year-old Evan Bisnauth is an “Animal Hero.”
For the last two years, he has been busy helping dogs get adopted at the ASPCA in between all his schoolwork and extracurricular activities.
On most Saturdays, Bisnauth leaves his home in the Bronx and travels to the Manhattan shelter to read to the dogs through the volunteer program Books for Boroughbreds, the Animal Care Center’s (ACC) community program for kids that encourages children to improve their reading skills by reading books to abandon dogs.
On his first day at the shelter back in 2019, Bisnauth remembers spending five hours reading to each and every dog. He noticed all the barks, growls, and whimpering soon subsided as he slowly began to read the words off the page.
“When I meet up with them they are very scared and very vulnerable but I try to help them feel like I am just trying to help them,” Bisnauth said.
However, he soon noticed the dogs liked the story. And, he liked sharing it with them.
Bisnauth said that his favorite book to read is the children’s book “Belly Rubbins for Bubbins,” written by Jason Kraus and illustrated by Connor DeHaan, NBC New York reported.
“The story is about a dog that was placed into the shelter and got adopted,” Bisnauth said.
He added: “I like reading that to the dogs because when I’m done reading the book I’m like, ‘You will get adopted. Now I have hope for you,’” he said.
When the pandemic hit and Bisnauth was no longer able to visit all his furry friends he came up with the idea to create a Facebook page, EB and the Pets. The shelter gave him the photos of all the dogs that were most in need of a forever home. Through an app, he started to create videos and colorful animations of the dogs. He then continued to post photos and videos of all the adoptable animals on his Instagram.
“I started animating them doing all the fun things dogs like to do to get people to picture them as a part of their family,” he said.
Bisnauth got even more creative at the shelter and began to interview the shelter dogs so they were able to show their personality to potential adopters.
“It’s like a little show,” he explained. “I’d ask them questions about themselves so people could see how they behave, what they like, information about them. So I couldn’t be there, but I could get them the exposure they need.”
Bisnauth’s commitment was recognized. In October, he was named ASCPA’s Kid of the Year alongside other honorees at a virtual luncheon to celebrate their commitment to animal welfare.
“It makes me feel really good, but it also makes me want to do so much more,” Bisnauth said.
Risa Weinstock, president and CEO of the Animal Care Center said that Bisnauth’s involvement is “remarkable.” She said it has helped raise awarenes. It has also made their older dogs and those dogs that are not that as social, more adoptable, The Washington Post reported.
“Evan’s dedication as a junior volunteer has given hundreds of dogs a taste of what it would be like to live in a home curled up with a good book and a best friend,” Weinstock said.
“The dogs can sense that he’s there just for them, and there is a visible reduction in their stress level,” she added.
Bisnauth started helping shelter dogs in 2019 after his mom, Amanda Persaud, heard about the ACC reading program. Persaud said her son would often practice reading to his own dogs at home and that she noticed early on that he “had a special knack for communicating with dogs at a young age,” The Washington Post reported.
“He’s found something that he loves and he’s very dedicated to what he’s doing,” she added. “As a parent, I find that really admirable. The only problem is that he now wishes he could bring all of the dogs home.”
Bisnauth, who has only got into the double digits a few years ago, already has big plans. He said he hopes one day to have his own animal rescue and to also work at NASA.