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Birthday Wishes Help Local Shelter

  • Emmy Belkin, with Animal Control Officer Justin Hatch, shows off some of the pet food and supplies she donated to her local shelter.

  • Emmy accepts the Volunteer of the Year award from Utah Animal Control Officers Association President Jim Barker.

Emmy Belkin stands proudly next to an array of pet food, leashes, treats, and kitty litter. Though she's only as tall as the bottom of the sign reading "Heber Valley Animal Shelter," she's already made a big difference for dogs and cats in her community.

Emmy, who lives in Heber City, Utah, was only three when she started asking her friends and family to donate supplies to her local animal shelter in lieu of birthday presents.

Now Emmy is 5 years old and has been recognized as Volunteer of the Year by the Utah Animal Control Officers Association.

Emmy's Award

At the award ceremony, Emmy received a standing ovation for her commitment to help shelter animals.

"Heber Valley Animal Control is very lucky to have this special little girl who thinks about the welfare of the animals and goes the extra mile by asking for donations to the shelter and the animals housed there," said Animal Control Officer Justin Hatch, who nominated Emmy for the award.

"It's always rewarding to see grade, middle and high schoolers involved in animal protection issues, but it really was special to hear the stories of how committed Emmy has been to her local shelter's animals since her third birthday," said Dave Pauli with The HSUS, who was on hand to congratulate Emmy after the award ceremony.

Big Plans

So what's next for Utah's smallest shelter hero? Emmy says that when she's older, she wants to become an animal control officer — and to share her home with cats and a dog. She says her pets will have their own bunk bed to sleep on.

In the meantime, Emmy plans to keep donating gifts to her local shelter, and she hopes that other kids will think about doing the same.

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