Evan Bisnauth is like any other 11-year-old kid, busy with multiple interests near his home in Bronx, New York. But he never lets anything stand in the way of his passion: helping socialize adoptable shelter dogs by reading to them regularly.
"I actually first read to my own dog when I was learning to read and write in school," Evan told TODAY Parents.
Always eager to help animals in need, Evan also creates amusing animations of Animal Care Centers of NYC's adoptable animals to help them get attention so they ultimately can be placed in safe and loving homes.
"During COVID, I was not able to go in person and I needed to find a fun way to showcase the dogs and put them in a positive light," Evan explained. "I started animating them doing all the fun things dogs like to do to get people to picture them as a part of their family."
His dedication has not gone unnoticed. Evan just got named the ASPCA's Kid of the Year.
"Our 2021 ASPCA Humane Award winners represent the best of us — heroic people and organizations dedicated to helping vulnerable animals, and amazing animals who demonstrate the invaluable love and comfort they're capable of providing," Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA, said in a release about the awards.
For Evan, the award is a great honor, but it's just the beginning.
"It makes me feel really good ... but it also makes me want to do so much more," he shared.
Evan said his favorite story to read to the dogs is the children's book "Belly Rubbins for Bubbins," written by Jason Kraus and illustrated by Connor DeHaan.
"The story is about a dog that was placed into the shelter and got adopted," Evan said. "I like reading that to the dogs because when I'm done reading the book I'm like, 'You will get adopted. Now I have hope for you.'"
Evan's mom, Amanda Persaud, told TODAY that seeing her son honored for his work is gratifying as a parent.
"It definitely means a lot to see Evan doing something that makes him happy and him pursuing a passion with the encouragement to go further and really trying to make a difference," she said.
Persaud noted that her son tries to target shelter dogs that are in greatest need of immediate placement.
"He goes and he's very patient. He's very calm," she said. "He sits there, even though they're barking at him in his face, he's just going to sit there and be like, 'I know. I know it's hard. But I'm here. And if you want to hear a story, you're going to have to be quiet.'"
Evan said he doesn't play favorites when it comes to the dogs, but three who were adopted off the emergency placement list stand out in his memories.
"I just want people to know that shelter dogs are not bad dogs. They are just looking for good people," he said. "And to all the kids out there, you are never too small to make big changes."