following is a heart warming story which demonstrates
how any one, in this case a young man, with determination
and courage can make a difference in the lives of other
people and other beings by standing up for what he/she
On the first day of sixth grade, my teacher told us
all the major units we would be doing during the year.
One of them, he said was the duck hatching unit we would
be doing at the end of the year. I had a feeling that
there was something fishy about the idea of the unit.
As a concerned animal lover, I asked where the ducks
would go after we completed the unit. My teacher, who
obviously doesn’t love animals, casually said
something along the lines of “They’ll go
back to the duck farm and end up in the Chinese restaurant”.
I am the kind of animal lover who will physically do
things for animals rather than just donate money and
say empty words. I was determined to save them.
The story is that a classmate’s mother and a
teacher in the elementary school (k-2nd grade) hatched
them together. There would be forty ducklings, and my
class would be the only class in the grade school (3rd-6th
grade) to get any. The rest would live in the elementary
school. If the ducks were not slaughtered, they would
live in almost definitely cruel conditions for breeding.
Also, the conditions in which the ducks lived at my
school were bad. They lived in small clear plastic totes
with the only water being a tiny cup of drinking water.
I started making plans to kidnap the ducks one day
after school, but when my teacher’s assistant
told me that she would be willing to let me take the
ducks if I found a place for them to go, I sprang at
the opportunity. The ducks we raised are Pekings. They
do not make good pets, and yet cannot survive in the
wild, because even as adults, they can’t fly.
They are livestock animals, meat ducks.
I started calling around. I called Volunteers for
Wildlife, who stated that the ducks in question were
livestock, not wildlife, and so they couldn’t
help them. The Star Foundation told me that they get
too many of this kind of call and refused to help me.
The meanest was Suffolk County Farm, who said that it
is a fact of life that the ducks had to be killed. I
was getting frantic when I called Karen Davis at United
She was the first helpful person I called. With Dr.
Davis’ help, I was eventually led to Sara Whalen
who owns Pets Alive, a sanctuary in Middletown, N.Y.
She sent out an e-mail alert which signifies an animal
emergency. And boy was this an emergency! Although I
started calling the day we got the ducks, suddenly I
had only 24 hours to find them a home or they would
go back to the farm.
Angel’s Gate responded to the alert within minutes.
I researched them and told Dr. Davis. She did more research
and we agreed that this was our place! Luckily for me,
Angel’s Gate is located in Fort Salonga, Long
Island, just 20-30 minutes away from my home. They mostly
take care of special needs animals, and I can honestly
say that they are the most loving and miraculous place
I've ever visited. The owners, Susan Marino and Victor
LaBruna share their home with over 200 special needs
animals. They are two of the most unselfish people I
know. It becomes obvious as soon as you walk in to Angel's
Gate that all the animals are well loved!
The ducks are living happily at Angel’s Gate.
In recognition, I have received The Compassionate Kid
Award form People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals,
and Doris Day Animal Foundation’s Kindred Spirit
Award. I am volunteering at Angel’s Gate this
summer. On a final note, I would like to thank a few
wonderful people and organizations. First of all, Karen
Davis at United Poultry concerns who was behind everything.
Special thanks go next to Angel’s Gate for taking
the ducks. I would also like to thank Sara Whalen of
Pets Alive for sending out the alert that found the
ducks a home. Also, my thanks go to Karen Benzel, Vernon
Weir, PETA, Animal General, Farm Sanctuary, my dad Eric,
and my friend Megan Mellino. I am proud and happy with
the outcome of what I have named “The Duckling