Selena Schulz is an ambitious 11-year old. She has already written two books and is nearing completion of a third. You might think she wants to be a writer when she grows up, but on the contrary, she wants to be a commercial airline pilot.
Those pursuits don’t seem connected, but they both tie back to her love of animals.
“I want to be a pilot because I heard pilots can help animals find homes by flying them from state to state,” Selena says.
For now, though, writing is one of the best ways she can help animals.
Selena’s love of animals began when she was very little. Her mother, Jomary, a teacher, thinks her passion can be traced to her father, Kurt, who is a plumber.
“He has brought home dogs, turtles, a lot of animals,” says Jomary. “Selena picked up on that and she has found a love for them all.”
Selena’s relationship to animals also comes through personal experience. Selena and her parents currently have two rescue dogs, a 3-year old German Shepherd/Labrador mix named Snowy and a 1-year old mutt named Cici. She also has a rescue guinea pig named Desmond and a hamster named Emma Belle.
Selena began helping animals in earnest when she was 8 years old and wrote her first book, “Cici’s Amazing Birthday,” a semi-autobiographical account of a little girl who finds a stray dog. The little girl and her family take the dog to a shelter and (spoiler) end up adopting the dog when no one claims it.
The little girl is then inspired to raise money and supplies for the shelter, using her birthday to ask for donations instead of presents.
In reality, the dog was a cat the Schulz family found (a friend ended up adopting the cat because Kurt is allergic), but Selena has used her birthdays to solicit donations and supplies for local shelters.
She got the idea after visiting her local shelter and seeing the animals sleeping on newspapers rather than beds. That first birthday party, along with her 9th and 10th birthday parties (she didn’t have a party on her 11th birthday), has raised thousands of dollars in donations, beds, food, toys and treats for homeless animals in her area.
One of the shelters that has benefited from Selena’s generosity is Pasco Animals Services, an organization that takes in approximately 5,000 pets each year. Mike Shumate, director of animal services, doesn’t know the exact amount raised for the shelter through Selena’s birthday party, but says it was “substantial.”
Shumate says that Selena is a delightful girl who works diligently for animals.
“Selena has a huge following all over the world and any exposure we can get is always invaluable,” says Shumate. “We don’t always have the budget and when we’re tied into these types of campaigns, it helps us get animals adopted.”
Selena’s second book, “Purr-fect Friends Forever,” tells the story of how important it is to foster animals temporarily until they find forever homes. This story is also based on the cat the family found and it made Selena aware of the important role foster families play in helping homeless pets. Jomary illustrates the books.
Selena sells her books for $10 each, with 50 percent of the proceeds going towards donations to shelters. Selena sells her books through her website, A Bed A Buck A Buddy, and events at local shelters. She says her parents and extended family helped her with the name.
“Bed means supplies, Buck is monetary donations and Buddy is volunteering and fostering,” Selena says.
Selena can’t actually volunteer for the shelters until she’s 16, which doesn’t bother her. “I know it’s a lot of responsibility so I know why they do it,” Selena says.
Mark Thompson, director of Cindy’s Pets, estimates that Selena’s birthday parties have generated 500 to 600 pounds of food for the organization. “Selena is a very bright girl and she has a great family,” says Thompson.
The ASPCA, which hasn’t worked with Selena, says that this type of involvement with animals for children is critical.
“It’s important for children like Selena to learn about and take active roles in supporting animal welfare because the compassion they develop at an early age will shape the values they hold and act on as adults,” says Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA. “Every action and every person, no matter how big or small, can make a difference in the lives of vulnerable animals who deserve safe and loving homes.”
Although Selena’s main priority will turn to entering the 6th grade soon, she is definitely not done with her work with animals. She is currently completing her third book, “A Squeaky Surprise,” about the other animals in rescues besides dogs and cats. She hopes to have it out by the end of the year.
Selena also wants to foster and train a service dog, which she hopes she can do next year.
“Our last rescue was a small puppy so I told her we have to wait until that one is trained first,” says Jomary.
Images via: AnaMaria Betancourt