By National Geographic
Dr. Jordan Schaul interviews another young crusader. To date, Jordan has introduced our audiences to young wildlife crusaders determined to help Taiji’s dolphins and South Africa’s rhinos. Here at home, another young crusader with a compelling story is making a difference for our most majestic of companion animals—horses.
Bio (Submitted by mom, Stacie) Animals are an important part of eleven-year-old Declan Gregg’s life. He loves them all, but has a special place in his heart for horses. “They are amazing, beautiful, animals, who are not only our companions and friends, but also our healers,” says Declan. “I feel a special connection and bond with them that keeps my soul alive.”
In 2011, after hearing about the inhumane and cruel practice of horse slaughter, then nine-year-old Declan, decided that he needed to raise his voice. Declan created Children 4 Horses and started his own blog (www.children4horses.blogspot.com), and page on Facebook (www.facebook.com/children4horses), to spread the word as an advocate for horses. Declan worked closely and diligently with the Million Horse March campaign. He held a “Letter Writing Party” at his local shelter, the New Hampshire SPCA, to collect letters from children hoping to inspire lawmakers to end the slaughter of American horses. Declan collected over 225 letters that day from local New Hampshire children.
Jordan: Please tell us about your lobbying efforts on behalf of humane horse care?
Declan: My dedication to horse advocacy took me to the nation’s capital twice in 2012, where I represented over 1,000 children from the United States and abroad. I presented letters and drawings to legislators in Congress and the Senate. I held a press conference alongside Congressman Jim Moran (VA) and representatives from other national horse advocacy organizations, where I spoke out against the slaughter of America’s horses, both domestic and wild. During that visit, I personally visited several legislators in the House and Senate, including Congressman Frank Guinta of New Hampshire, where I shared my opposition to the inhumane treatment of horses and subsequently garnered the Congressman’s co-sponsorship of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (H.R.2966/S.1176).
I also met with HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) President, Wayne Pacelle, to discuss ways I could continue my advocacy work with the organization.
In 2012, I joined forces with the “Horses on the Hill” campaign, returning to Washington DC, and spoke before celebrities, Congressmen and Senators to lobby against horse slaughter and advocate for the protection of horses under H.R.2966/S.1176. In addition to my two Washington visits that year, I testified at a hearing for a bill opposing horse slaughter at the New Hampshire State House in January, 2012.
In 2013, I travelled to Washington DC for a third time, to attend the “Horses on the Hill” event and met with Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire as well as other legislators, and spoke about current legislation which protects horses from inhumane treatment. I subsequently garnered the co-sponsorship of Congresswoman Shea-Porter of the SAFE Act (H.R.1094/S.541).
My efforts are not only focused at the federal level, but also back home in New Hampshire. I have been on several radio shows and created videos (http://www.youtube.com/user/sgsquared1), to lend my voice on behalf of horses and raise awareness for horse advocacy issues.
I have spoken to children’s groups like 4-H Clubs, Girl Scouts and after school programs at the NH SPCA, and will be making a presentation at my school, about horses, their humane care and horse advocacy issues. I love sharing my passion with other kids and educating them. I want to show them that their voice is important too and that they can stand up for animals just like adults do. I ran successful fundraising campaigns for both local and national charities that help horses, and far surpassed my goals with the help of people from all over the country.
I ran successful fundraising campaigns for both local and national charities that help horses, and far surpassed my goals with the help of people from all over the country. Every year, my younger brother and I give the animals a Christmas present, by sponsoring them through the New Hampshire SPCA’s “Adoption Angel” program. I am currently petitioning the Governor and NH State legislators in the House and Senate (http://tinyurl.com/m7luymd), in opposition of the state’s “Ag-gag” bill (HB110) and will be meeting Governor Hassan prior to the bill going to the floor.
Jordan: How do you feel about the attention you’ve drawn personally?
Declan: I am honored to have been awarded the 2012 ASPCA’s Humane Kid of the Year for his advocacy of horses and was excited to take my family to New York City with me to accept the award and deliver a speech to a packed room of over 500 people.
I was the first ever recipient of the ASPCA’s Junior Equine Angel Award and serves as the first ASPCA Junior Equine Ambassador. As a coalition member of American Wild Horse Preservation (AWHP), I work with various equine/animal advocacy organizations to also raise awareness about the plight of wild horses and burros in the United States, and the inhumane roundups and removal from our public lands.
Jordan: Tell me about your blog.
Declan: My blog, which has been visited by individuals in more than 110 countries, provides commentary on horse advocacy issues and also includes horse news, photos, horse poetry, my artwork and stories about others, both young and old, whom have made a difference helping horses. I hope my “Children 4 Horses” blog and Facebook page, will inspire and encourage others to stand up, including younger generations, and I hope to be a voice for horses and all animals. My message to others, especially children, is that their voice matters and is important, and that they can make a difference in this world.
Jordan: Anything else you wanted to share about yourself?
Declan: I really love school and learning new things and am an Honors student. Reading, music and art are other passions of mine. I am a pretty good artist, and love to draw the most, spending hours on each piece. I have used some of my drawings to help raise awareness and highlight horses by entering them in art contests. I am also very involved in sports, including having earned my Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do at age 9 and playing for my school basketball team. You can often find me playing with one of our 2 dogs or 2 cats or rescuing small animals I find in need. I love visiting our local animal shelter, the New Hampshire SPCA, where I volunteer and work with the horses, including grooming and giving them lots of love and attention. I plan to continue being a voice for horses, including going back to Washington DC. I will fight until we have won for the horses!
Children 4 Horses on Facebook: www.facebook.com/children4horses
Children 4 Horses Blog: www.children4horses.blogspot.com
Children 4 Horses on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/sgsquared1
Declan’s current petition to NH Governor Hassan re: Ag-gag bill: http://tinyurl.com/m7luymd