Nicholas Nash is anything but your typical teenager. At 14-years-old he runs a successful pet rescue operation, with a little help from his mother Cindy while he is in school, and is well on his way to reaching the funding needed to build a 100 acre no kill pet shelter.
Nicholas, whose brother Luke Francis is a TJC student, started his journey last year when Luke’s girlfriend told Cindy that her 99-year-old grandfather’s dog had come up missing. Cindy took advantage of social media in order to help.
“What do you want more than anything for Valentine’s Day?” Cindy asked Jack Ludovico. He responded by saying he wanted his pet of 10 years back, which was exactly what Cindy and Nicholas gave him on Feb. 14, 2013. This was the spark that set Nicholas down the path to starting Nicholas Pet Haven, which has since successfully found homes for more than 60 animals in East Texas.
“Mom, you don’t have to do that,” Nash said he told Cindy when he decided to take over the facebook page she had started. Shortly after, he started a page and a gofundme.com account for Nicholas Pet Haven, which will eventually be the shelter they plan to build on his family’s land near I-20. Nicholas’ family so fully supports what he is trying to accomplish that they are considering selling their house in Tyler.
“I noticed that there was a lot of strays around our city (while running the lost and found page on facebook) and thought that I needed to build a shelter so that those strays would have a home,” Nash said.
It is very important to the family that the shelter is classifed as a no-kill shelter. After that, Nicholas has his sights set even higher. He wants to take the model found in cities like Austin, which is considered a no-kill city, and see if they can be applied here in East Texas. More details about the process can be found at http://nokillaustin.org/. However, the Nash family believes that it is vital that students get involved with local organizations to make that kind of progress.
Last month while Nicholas was at school, Cindy received a message on facebook from a distraught student who had found out that the humane society was likely going to euthanize the pitbull puppy that was found on TJC campus. They were able to get the puppy, Max, back before he was put down and took him to the vet where they found a cancerous tumor under one of his legs.
Nash said that they are always in need of donations ranging from puppy pads, dog food, help with fostering or donations through their gofundme account (www.gofundme.com/56cg3c).
“Get a group together … make some fun out of it. Animals are therapeutic and living on campus you aren’t allowed to have one, so by volunteering you’re not only helping other people, you’re helping yourself,” said Hillary Bowman, a social work major who volunteers with shelters in Florida where she is from.
Nash is currently in the running for help from the Ellen show’s, “Kids with big ideas” segment, which singles out children and teenagers who are making significant impacts in their communities and helps fund their projects. While the local media attention alone has helped their name get around, winning this spot would “really put (them) on the map.”
The ASPCA’s statistics show between 5-7 million pets are abandoned each year in the Unitied States. According to the Humane Society’s website, nearly 2.7 million of these healthy pets will be euthanized.
For more information about Nicholas Pet Haven, visit Nicholaspethaven.net, facebook.com/lostcatsanddogsoftyler or facebook.com/pages/Nicholas-Pet-Haven.