Liesl McCallum is a 12 year old girl who loves to play Basketball and Soccer, read, make tie blankets that she can donate, and she has a passion for animals; she will even be fostering this summer.
Despite her young age, Liesl is very aware of the abuse that animals face and she cares deeply about all animals. She is motivated to help animals in any way that she can. “I have always been so in love with animal and bugs,” Liesl said. “I’ve always been so aware of animals and if they are happy and healthy. I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember.”
Liels even has her own pets. She has an Orange Short-Haired Tabby named Willy and a Maine Coon-Tabby Mix named Max. She calls them her “tabby bros!”
About five months ago, Liesl came across the Pet Education Project (also known as PEP). Erica Callais Falbaum, the Executive Director of PEP, founded PEP in 2009 with the mission to teach children how to be responsible pet owners. Erica founded PEP when she realized she wanted to turn kids into animal heros. After volunteering at an animal shelter she realized how many pets struggled to find loving families; this was heartbreaking so Erica was motivated to find a solution. PEP hopes that through their work, they will cultivate humane habits in people and this will help reduce all forms animal abuse, including but not limited to: neglect, euthanasia and overpopulation. Erica also strives to teach children a sense of responsibility and compassion, which will hopefully prevent pets from ending up in shelters. In order to reach as many children as possible, Erica travels all around the country to teach using their book, ‘The 5 Steps to a Happy Healthy Pet’. Erica is working hard to influence a change that will benefit animals all over the world. In addition, PEP supports many foundations and shelters that are working to end animal abuse and find loving homes for animals. PEP even has their own magazine for kids that people can order called, ‘Happy Tails” which includes activities and articles to teach kids how to raise a happy and healthy pet!
When Liesl came across PEP on Instagram (@peteducationproject ) she was instantly intrigued and loved what they were doing. Liesl followed the instagram and then eventually direct messaged the account to ask some questions. This is when she met Erica who answered all of her questions.
Following PEP’s Instagram and seeing all of their work inspired Liesl to start her own Instagram dedicated to creating awareness about animal abuse and communicate to communities that animal abuse needs to be stopped. Her Instagram is, @Abuse_Ends_Now
“The reason I started my Instagram originally was for my cats,” Liesl said. “Then I gave that page to my mom and I started a new one. I was very inspired by Erica and the ASPCA! My goal is to spread the word about abuse and one day inspire a lot more people to choose careers involving animals!”
PEP is always looking for children who want to get more involved inspire and educate more people about PEP and how to help animals and treat them fairly. Liesl was a perfect candidate and she soon became a PepRep. “I am a PepRep because I’ve been very supportive of Erica and she loved my enthusiasm, and I really loved hers too”, Liesl explained.
As a PepRep, Liesl volunteers for two hours per month and this month she is setting up a raffle to raise money for PEP. The money that she raises for PEP will go towards donations to shelters and other foundations and towards teaching efforts as well. Liels has arranged to have 3 baskets: one for dogs (containing: toys, treats, kibble, balls, gift cards, and beds), one for cats (containing: treats, toys, cat food, beds, and gift card), and a movie night basket (containing: microwavable popcorn, movies, free movie rental tickets, stuffed animals, blankets, and candy). If you are interested in donating a item for the raffle, you can contact Liesl by emailing her at email@example.com
Some of Liesl’s goals currently are to get some more donations for her raffle baskets and she would love raise $200 at the raffle for PEP. She also wants to plan a silent auction in the future to raise more money for animals and she said that she would love to work for Erica once she turns 16.
When Liesl gets older, she really wants to be a vet at a zoo or at a farm, because those are two of her favorite places to be. Liesl talked about how there are some zoos that do not have the best intentions with their animals but she said, “the majority of them are safe and helpful! Zoos bring back endangered species by breeding and they give sick and injured animals that can’t go back into the wild a safe home,” which is why she would love to work as a vet at a zoo some day.
Liesl has great motivation for such a young age and it is great to see the work she is doing and how inspired she is. We are cheering her on at Coco + Pistachio and wish the best of luck to her with her future endeavours!
Please check out Liesl’s Instagram: @Abuse_Ends_Now
Also check out PEP’s Instagram: @peteducationproject and their website: https://www.ilovepep.org/home
By: Julia Augelletta