The operation to close puppy mills across New York was led by two Hilton teens.
Joey Nowacki and Cooper Streb, 13, are on a mission to end animal cruelty across the state. The pair are students at Merton Williams Middle School, and part of their plan includes closing all existing puppy mills in New York.
“We’re trying to close them because we recently adopted the Golden Doodle, but unfortunately it didn’t work out because of the way the puppy mill was handled,” Cooper said. “After doing more research, Joy and I decided to try and end them.”
Cooper said the dog his family was trying to save was overbred, abused and kept in a stable for four years.
“We were told she was not being treated well, she may have been fighting for food, unfortunately she has a high predatory instinct for small animals and we have a cat so we didn’t want to take any chances,” Cooper said.
Cooper’s best friend Joey is also keen to end animal cruelty.
He recently adopted an English bulldog puppy with a cleft lip and said the dog could have been euthanized if his family hadn’t rescued him. Joy added that his dog “means the world” to him.
“I’ve been focusing on closing the puppy mill for a while. I did it as my Power One project in sixth grade, so it’s just something I’ve been thinking about,” Joy said.
The two teens are now using their shared experiences to make a difference.
“It’s been a huge help because he understands what I’m going through and I understand what he and his dog are going through, so knowing we’re like best friends and we’ve been friends for a long time is really It’s been very helpful,” said Joy.
To publicize their efforts, the boys spend seven to eight hours a week ending puppy mills and animal cruelty. They started with a petition that was signed hundreds of times.
“We’re about 900 people now, and in about three weeks, the first thing we do is go door-to-door in our community to let people know we know about it,” Cooper said.
They also produced flyers explaining their efforts and how people can get involved. These flyers are posted in libraries, bus stops and local businesses. Each has a QR code that directs people to their petition.
“Our goal is to close them, first with a few puppy mills in New York State, and then spread the word across the country,” Cooper said.
These guys have gained quite a following through announcement videos and social media. They partnered with animal rescue service North Paw Rescue to spread their message. Her classmates and teachers also gathered around her.
“They really enjoyed it. They were really helpful,” Cooper said. “A lot of my friends at school talked to me about it, posted on social media, my teachers did the same, they retweeted it, so they were really helping.”
Joy added that while they were young, this was just the beginning of their efforts. So far, they have only received positive reactions from those around them.
“They were very positive about it. I hardly had anyone saying I couldn’t do it. They were very supportive,” Joy said.
In support of their mission, the boys are encouraging people to call their congregations in support of the Puppy Mill Pipeline Bill, which would end the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits at pet stores across the state.