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Famous author Charles Bukowski once wrote in the poem “My Cats,” “when I am feeling low all I have to do is watch my cats and my courage returns.” Pets seem to make people feel better and science suggests that people and pets have been a thing for over 12,000 years. That’s not news to seventh grader Amalia, though — she’s started a pet mutual aid and she hopes to help as many animals as possible.

“I’m going to do this for the rest of my life,” said Amalia. “I’ve always loved animals and ‘dog’ was my first word. And I wanted to do something for the community. It’s important to help out your community in some way.”

As the Boise Pet Helper, Amalia with her dad in tow, goes down to Rhodes Skate Park in Boise every Monday at 5 p.m. to distribute pet items and take requests from pet owners who need a little help. Amalia distributes food, toys, leashes, harnesses and gift cards for veterinarians. People can get more information on Instagram at boisepethelper and people can donate from a link on the page.

The pet mutual aid idea came out of a project Amalia was working on at school in the sixth grade. She decided she wanted to do something bigger, “a lifetime project,” she called it, so that she could help people with pets get what they need. She said at first, her parents thought she might grow out of the idea but Amalia persisted and Boise Pet Helper was born. Amalia’s dad is a hunter and said her activism is all her own; he’s just there to support.

“Sometimes it’s kinda sketchy down here,” said Amalia, “but this is where people need help. There’s a lot more people on the street, especially from COVID, and their pets need help, too. This can help people when they don’t have money.”

The first distribution was in early March. Amalia said the first few times she had a sign that said: “Does your pet need something? Talk to me.” It started slow but Amalia said there’s a lot of people who need help taking care of their pets and for some of the people experiencing houselessness, their pet is a source of comfort.

Amalia said she knows how important it is because she’s grown up with dogs all her life. Her first dog “Fena,” which she said means “girl dog” in Czech, died last summer and it was difficult. She has two dogs now named Fly and Murphy and two chickens, Itty and Baby. She also plans to engage in more animal activism as she gets older and wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up.

“I like helping animals and people in the community,” she said, “and I get to meet a lot of peoples’ pets, and that’s really great.”

Amalia said they can most use canned food, dog bags and donations for vet visits. A Facebook page is also in the works.

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