Erica Callais Falbaum is not your average cat lady. Sure, she loves all things cat — she has three of them: Maine Coon mix Pris, tortoiseshell Delilah and Cousteau, a diabetic panther cat. But, she’s taken that passion and put it into action in the form of the Pet Education Project or PEP.
She founded this nonprofit organization, which educates kids on respect and responsibility for their pets — something we can all support. “Our goal,” she explains, “is to end pet overpopulation, abuse, neglect and euthanasia by empowering future generations to be animal heroes.”
Erica calls these kids her PEP! Squad and says there are thousands of them worldwide. “We teach them important topics like spaying, neutering and adopting in a fun way,” she says, “so that when they grow up they can make educated decisions that keep pets in homes and out of shelters. It’s our goal to end the cycle that brings pets to shelters in the first place!”
Creating a “cultural change” is important to Erica, by making it fun and cool to these kids to care for their pets. “We reach thousands of kids daily through our PEP! Talks,” she says, “which are free school programs, live broadcasts and videos through apps like musical.ly and YouTube.”
What’s up next for Erica and PEP? “A nationwide tour and to have a PEP chapter in every state so we can reach kids everywhere!” The organization currently has four national chapters. “My personal ultimate goal is to one day have our own show!” says Erica, whose background is in film.
To start a PEP in your own community or for more information, go to ilovepep.org. To check out PEP’s TV pilot and other videos, go to Pet Education Projects’ You Tube Channel. To look into supporting PEP for $1 a month, go to patreon.com/peteducationproject. You can also find PEP on Instagram and Facebook.
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Editor’s note: This story originally appeared in the Catster print magazine. Click here to subscribe to Catster magazine.