If I come back as an animal in my next life (and given my behavior, I’m pretty sure that’s a given) I hope I end up somewhere near the blueberry fields of New Jersey and Karen Talbot LaSasso. Because the founder of M.O.M.S. Animal Rescue is one ferociously impassioned protector of animals, and I reckon I just might need that.
Where would our world be without moms like Karen, who took a simple school project and turned it into a statewide cause, a puppy caravan of 1000 miles, a nonprofit, a documentary film, and new life for hundreds of helpless animals?
It all started in October 2008, with “Paws for a Cause” at St. Joseph Elementary School in Hammonton, New Jersey when instead of another coat drive, Karen decided to help the children rescue animals from very high-kill shelters in Georgia. Horrified at the million dogs and cats that were being cruelly executed in Georgia each year, Karen organized the 3-month “Paws” project to raise awareness and money for the transport of more than 100 dogs and cats, meet the rescued pets in the early hours of the morning when they arrived in New Jersey, and foster them until permanent homes could be found.
But Karen and her animal-loving kids couldn’t stop with “Paws.” Through the spring, the children kept working with local shelters to bring animals up for adoption and raised money to send 700 pounds of dog and cat chow to Georgia shelters that were killing animals for lack of food. And then the big idea came: Making of Miracle Stories (M.O.M.S) was founded in May 2009, and work on the Georgia Puppy Caravan road trip began.
On August 19, 2009 over 100 cars, Animal Rescue Flights, 7 private planes, 22 tons of dog food, a documentary crew, and a boxcar truck filled with donations pulled out of New Jersey and headed to Summerville, Georgia for “Empty Out a Georgia Shelter Day.” And that’s exactly what the kids and moms did in this small town on the northwest border of Georgia and Alabama where “Deliverance” was partly filmed.
They took 140 cats and dogs that were hours from execution, carried them to safety, and with the help of animal rescue operations from all over the country, set them up with veterinary care and in quarantine until they were well enough to travel north to be adopted in permanent homes. 16 of the animals were so sick they died, but as Karen says proudly, “They died in someone’s loving arms, not on a cement slab, and they were surrounded by love.” And MOMS left not one animal behind.
But Karen LaSasso is hardly done yet. As long as animals are suffering, and children can feel compassion, Karen LaSasso is going to be out there helping children to experience the power of being a voice for the voiceless.
“Once a child saves an animal’s life and holds it in his or her arms, that child is forever changed,” she says. “I want every child to experience that.”
Frankly, I wouldn’t put it past her. The documentary premieres August 19 in Philadelphia, and you can donate to M.O.M.S Animal Rescue by calling 609-665-1224, or email Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org.