Seventh-grader Kam Gottlieb may not have a dog at home, but she doesn’t let that minor detail get in the way of her passion for helping homeless canines. “I’ve always had a thing for animals in my heart – especially dogs,” she says.
Every year when she and her family vacation in Michigan, they donate toys, dog treats, and dog food to the Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan in Benton Harbor. When she was in third grade, Kam asked workers at the shelter how much exercise the dogs got. She was astonished to learn that the dogs were only walked a few times each week.
“In a shelter, exercise comes second to the main goal of getting the dogs adopted,” she explains. Later, Kam learned about treadmills designed for dogs, and a light bulb went off in her head.
“I realized how much treadmills could help shelter dogs to be happier and healthier, and have a better chance at getting adopted,” says Kim, now 13 years old. She soon started an organization called Kinetic K-9’s and got busy raising money to buy doggie treadmills for animal shelters.
Kam sells bracelets and has held carwashes, a dog teeth-cleaning event, and a tiki party with kiddie pools and Slip ‘N Slides to raise money. In four years Kam has raised enough to place treadmills in six shelters, with each treadmill costing about $500. The first one went to the Anti Cruelty Society in Chicago, near her home in Wilmette, Ill. The company that makes the treadmills, dogPACER, helped pay for the first treadmill. She donated a second treadmill to the Michigan shelter that inspired Kinetic K-9’s.
These days, Kam’s planning a one-mile fun run/walk fundraiser for Spring 2014, with help from her social studies class at school. “It’s an amazing feeling to help shelter dogs,” she says. “The treadmills have enabled the dogs to get twice as much exercise as they were getting before, and in any weather.
“The dogs love it,” Kam adds. “Otherwise they’re in cages most of the day laying on cement. ” But after a jaunt on the treadmill, the dogs are panting, wagging their tails, and ready for a nap. Shelter staffers can get more work done, too, since they can set up a dog to walk or run right next to a desk.
Kam’s goal is to place a treadmill at an animal shelter in each state. “Raising money is hard,” she says, “but if I set my mind to it, I know I can do it. Each treadmill makes such a huge difference in the dogs’ lives. That motivates me to not give up.”
To learn more about Kinetic K-9’s, visit www.kinetick9s.weebly.com