At first glance, Meena Kumar seems like your typical 14-year-old. She will be a sophomore in high school this fall and in her free time loves to ride her bike and make music. She plays the violin in a youth symphony and enjoys singing and writing her own music too.
Once you get to know Meena, her backstory is not only inspiring but makes one can’t help be in awe of her and how far she’s come since being an abandoned nine-month-old. At that age, Kumar was left in a basket at a college campus in India. She lived in an orphanage about a year before a San Jose, California family adopted her.
Despite a tough beginning, Meena has adopted a sense of great empathy, particularly with animals.
“I seem to have been born with a love for animals,” she said. “My first recollection is based on a story my parents tell me of how I would spend hours watching a litter of puppies when they first adopted me and brought me to my grandparents’ house in Mumbai.”
Meena’s parents told her it was hard keeping a two-year-old engaged in a small apartment and how grateful they were for the dog and litter of puppies.
Meena first got the idea to visit animal shelters shortly after she arrived in San Jose. “As early as three to four years old, I remember begging my parents to take me to the local humane society almost every weekend,” she said. “I would spend most of my Saturdays playing with the cats and dogs.”
Particularly drawn to senior dogs, Meena recalled an evening when she was nine years old. She was on an evening walk with her dog Bambie when she met her neighbor who had adopted a senior hospice dog from Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, a local rescue specializing in older dogs. She found herself inspired by Sherri Franklin, CEO of Muttville.
Muttville is a cage-free senior dog rescue shelter. Meena particularly liked how the organization seemed to provide unconditional love to their elderly dogs.
“Also, my grandparents moved in with me when I came to the US and I took care of my grandfather until he passed away last year,” Meena added. “Supporting senior dogs is in honor of him.”
Meena is also an avid pet sitter. She boards dogs at home and they roam freely. She has lots of funny stories about her grandmother complaining a dog stole some vegetables she had recently cut, or her dad losing a shoe and finding it in a dog’s bed.
“Most of all, every one of them could make my 80-year-old grandmother laugh,” Meena said.
When she’s older, Meena hopes to get a job that can help senior dogs in some way—maybe as a veterinarian or by running a business that helps provide services for dogs.
“Since COVID, I have started focusing on pet health,” Meena said. “Many senior dogs have medical issues and don’t get adequate medication because pet medicines are expensive.”
Meena joined the team at Pebble Naturals, a nutritional supplement company. She helps to bring low-cost medicines to help senior dogs. Pebble has donated 250 pet supplements to Meena’s campaign. If you use the code MEENA on the site pebblenaturals.com, 100% of the proceeds go to her campaign.
She also hopes to expand her pet care service, Pet Fairy Services, to help senior dogs.
When she’s not working hard for senior dogs, Meena loves spending time with her dog Bambie. She even calls her sister!