Teen Forsaken as a Baby Helps Senior Dogs Find Forever Homes — ‘Just Like I Did’

Clear the Shelters

At 14 years old, Meena Kumar is already a strong believer in the importance of second chances.

When she was just 9 months old, she was left in a basket on a college campus in India, and subsequently lived in an orphanage for about a year. Then she was adopted by a family who lives in San Jose, California.

“My parents tell me the story of when they adopted me at (age) 2 and they brought me to my grandparents’ apartment in Mumbai,” she told TODAY. “My parents were worried about how to keep me amused in a small place. Thankfully, a dog had laid a litter of puppies, and I used to spend hours every day watching and playing with them.”

Meena’s love of animals continued to grow back home in Northern California. Her favorite activity was visiting the local Humane Society, and when she was 8 years old, the family adopted a mixed-breed dog named Bambie. Meena adores the “sweet” dog and has taught her many tricks, including how to give a hug.

“I just pat on my shoulder and she’ll come and actually like put her paws up and just stay there so I can hug her and stuff,” she said.

One day while walking Bambie, Meena met a neighbor, Dr. Kathy Stecco, who was walking her dog, George. Stecco has fostered many senior hospice dogs for Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that rescues and re-homes older dogs. Intrigued, Meena visited Muttville, where she developed a passion for helping senior dogs.

“I love visiting Muttville,” she said. “The dogs may be senior and old, but they’re so friendly and cute, which is why I want to help them. They’re the most gentle and loyal creatures.”

When Meena’s parents said no to adopting more dogs, the then-9-year-old found a different way to help: She started a pet-sitting business called Pet Fairy Services and donates her earnings to Muttville.

She’s already donated $7,000 of her own money, and Intel, where her father works, matched her donation to Muttville.

“It feels great to know that I’ve saved many dogs’ lives and given them another chance to enjoy life for their last years of living,” she said. “I feel like all dogs should get a forever home just like I did.”

Meena has no plans of stopping. Some friends have started working for Pet Fairy Services, and her cousin works introduced her to the co-founder of Pebble Naturals, which is currently running a fundraising campaign to bolster Meena’s donations to Muttville.

She loves the chance to spend time with neighbors’ dogs — in addition to walks and trips to the beach, she hides treats around her house so they can enjoy a “treasure hunt” — and being able to give back. Helping senior dogs is also a tribute to her love for her grandfather, who died last year at age 88.

“He was kind and caring, just like the Muttville dogs,” she said. “I took care of my grandpa very well and want to help take care of these dogs in some way because they’re old and just like my grandpa.”

Meena’s mother, Jayashree Subrahmonia, is not only proud of her daughter but thankful. She herself was raised without pets and has found it’s a joy to have so many dogs visit their home, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.

“This entire journey of the love for animals in general and supporting senior dogs has been a gift to us,” she said. “I’m grateful to her for this gift that she has given us.”


This story first appeared on TODAY.com. More from TODAY:

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Clear The Shelters

Shelters near you


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) - Thousands of pets are looking for their forever homes and News Channel 8 is On Your Side helping to make that happen in the Tampa Bay area.

We are teaming up with hundreds of shelters across the country to host Clear the Shelters, a nationwide pet adoption drive from Aug. 1 through Aug. 31, featuring virtual pet adoptions to make it easy for people to donate online to participating shelters and rescues.

More than 150,000 pets found their forever homes since 2015 and we want to add to the number.

Find a shelter near you:

  • Pasco County Animal Services, 19640 Dogpatch Lane, Land O'Lakes
  • Paw Warriors, Inc., 355 Spring Time Street, Spring Hill
  • Pinellas County Animal Services, 12450 Ulmerton Road, Largo
  • Cat Haven Rescue, Inc, 1231 Bruce B. Downs Blvd, Wesley Chapel
  • Cat Haven Rescue, Inc - Pasco, 8529 Little Road, New Port Richey
  • SPCA Tampa Bay, 9099 130th Ave N, Largo
  • Bishop Animal Shelter SPCA of Manatee County, 5718 21st Ave West, Bradenton
  • Hernando County Animal Services, 19450 Oliver Street, Brooksville
  • SPCA Florida, 5850 Brannen Rd S, Lakeland
  • Barking Out Loud Rescues, Inc, 300 N Lake Drive, Lorida
  • Precious Paws Rescue, Inc., Citrus County Florida, 5164 S. Florida Avenue, Inverness
  • Humane Society of Pinellas, 3040 State Road 590, Clearwater
  • Hernando County SPCA, 9075 Grant St, Brooksville
  • St Francis Society, PO Box 261614, Tampa
  • Humane Society of Tampa Bay, 3607 N Armenia Avenue, Tampa
  • Rebels Rescue, Petco 136 S. West shore Blvd, Tampa
  • SPCA Suncoast, 7734 Congress Street, New Port Richey
  • Friends of Strays Animal Shelter, 2911 47th Avenue North, St. Petersburg
  • Florida English Bulldog Rescue, P.O. Box 754, Odessa
  • The Humane Society of Polk County, Inc, 3195 Dundee Rd, Winter Haven
  • The Humane Society of Sarasota County, 2331 15th Street, Sarasota
  • Hands Helping Paws Rescue Inc., 53 W Bay Blvd S, Lake Wales
  • Humane Society of Manatee County, 2515 14th Avenue W, Bradenton
  • Highlands County Sheriffs Animal Services, 7300 Haywood Taylor Blvd, Sebring
  • Manatee County Animal Services, 305 25th St W, Palmetto
  • SPCA Suncoast, 7734 Congress Street, New Port Richey
  • Citrus County Animal Services, 4030 S. Airport Rd, Inverness
  • St Francis Society, PO Box 261614, Tampa
  • FLUFF Animal Rescue, 9400 SEMINOLE BOULEVARD, SEMINOLE
  • SPCA Tampa Bay, 9099 130th Ave N, Largo
  • Polk County Sheriff's Office Animal Control, 7115 De Castro Rd, Winter Haven
  • The Greener Side Haven, Inc., 3892 N Lecanto Hwy, Beverly Hills
  • Humane Society at Lakewood Ranch, 26920 Gopher Hill Road, Myakka City

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