OSWEGO, NY â€“ When Zac Caruso, a sixth grader at Leighton Elementary School, received a puppy for Christmas he was thrilled to welcome the new pet into his home.
He named the puppy Emma and began training and caring for his beloved pet and was looking forward to enjoying a long relationship with Emma.
However, shortly after receiving Emma, Zac and his mother noticed that the puppy was not healthy.
When Zacâ€™s mom adopted the pet, she could see that it had not been very well cared for.
She thought that with a new home and a family that would love and care for her, Emma would flourish in her new environment.
Following a trip to the veterinarian, Zac learned that Emma was not healthy enough to receive her first shots.
As a result, Emma soon contracted distemper and died just two months after Zac received her.
The experience was an eye opener for Zac.Â With his love of animals, it was hard for him to accept that there were people who were not nice to their pets and treated animals badly.
â€œIt really bothers me when people abuse animals. Pets show us love and affection. People should take care of their animals, treat them nicely and give them a good home,â€ said Zac.
Motivated by Emmaâ€™s passing, Zac decided that he had to do something to help animals and raise awareness of the problem of cruelty to animals.
After visiting the Oswego Animal Shelter, Zac knew what he wanted to do.
â€œIt was heartbreaking to see the condition that the animals are in when they come into the shelter,â€ he said. â€œHowever, it was nice to see how the people at the shelter attended to the animals and helped find good homes for them. It was then that I knew I wanted to do something to help the animal shelter.â€
Last year, Zac and his sister, Hailey, devoted a month of their time collecting returnable bottles and cans as they attempted to break the record for cans collected in a month and raise money for the food pantry at Catholic Charities of Oswego County.
While they fell short of the world record, they collected more than 21,000 returnable bottles and cans and presented Catholic Charities with a check for $1,075.
This time, Zac is determined to surpass that amount as he raises money to benefit the Oswego Animal Shelter.
Throughout the month of April, with the help of his mom and other family members, Zac will be collecting returnable bottles and cans with all the proceeds going to the shelter.
According to Zac, the money raised will be used for preparing animals for adoption by helping to cover the costs of spaying and neutering.
When Zac shared his idea with the people at the shelter, it was a pleasant surprise.
â€œI was thrilled that such a young person would think to help homeless animals, said Marguerite DeSantis of the animal shelter. â€œWe talked in length with Zac and his mom about the problems with throwaway pets. We currently have 26 cats that all have been spayed thanks to donations and help from various groups. We also have several dogs available for adoption, two of which have been neutered. Zac was happy to learn that we do not put animals back into a bad situation. We adopt to people that have experience with pets, are willing to provide them with a good home and commit to spaying and neutering their new pet.â€
Zac has established an account with Can-A-Lot Bottle and Can Return so those wishing to donate to Zacâ€™s project can leave their returnables at Can-A-Lot locations in Oswego and Fulton.
â€œYou donâ€™t even have to count your returns,” said Zac.Â â€œJust bring them into either location and let them know that the donation is for the Zacâ€™s Can Drive. Theyâ€™ll count the cans for you and update me on how many cans have been turned in.â€
Zac is looking forward to the challenge of surpassing the amount of cans and bottles he collected last year and encourages business, civic organizations and community members to help support his effort to raise awareness of animal abuse and raise money for the Oswego Animal Shelter.
â€œIâ€™m very appreciative of the help I received last year.Â Dougâ€™s Barber Shop, JC Penney, CAC Home Management, Burritt Motors and several others provided me with large donations. This year I will be reaching out to area businesses and asking them to challenge each other to see who can help me collect the most returnable bottles and cans,” Zac said. “I also want to speak to bar and restaurant owners and see if they would be willing to donate one night or a weekend’s worth of returnables. I want to raise as much money as I can for the Oswego Animal Shelter. I also want to raise awareness of animal cruelty and work towards having stronger laws against it.â€
Zacâ€™s mother, Tammy Perras, is happy to be helping him and is proud of her son’s charitable efforts.
â€œZac has always loved animals and cares deeply for our cat, Scooby, which we adopted from the Oswego Animal Shelter four years ago. Itâ€™s no surprise that he is passionate about raising money for the Oswego Animal Shelter. I really want to see him succeed and surpass the amount that he raised last year. There is so much attention given to the negative things that kids do that the good things they do to often go unnoticed. There should be more attention paid to the positive things our young people do. I wish him the best of luck,â€ she said.
Zac will be collecting returnable bottles and cans now through April 30.
Businesses, organizations or individuals that would like more information on helping him raise money for the animal shelter by donating returnable bottles or cans to his drive can call 402-7912.
He and his mom will gladly arrange for the pick-up of any donations.
â€œIâ€™m going to do my best to surpass last yearâ€™s total and help the Oswego Animal Shelter find good homes for the animals that they have,â€ he said.