There is a new animal workshop on Staten Island for fourth graders that emphasizes fostering healthy relationships with pets and the importance of pet adoption.
The workshop, called Pet Talk, honors Tommy Monahan, a brave 9-year-old boy who lost his life in a Prince’s Bay house fire trying to save his pets in 2007. His love for animals and passion for helping them continues to inspire people of all ages.
Tommy’s sister, Gabby Monahan, 23, said at a press event launching the program that her brother is watching from above and is proud.
“His biggest passion was animals. Any time there was a bug in the house, he would scream, ‘Don’t kill it! Don’t kill it!’ He’d get a cup and put it in,” Monahan shared. “Even if it was a fly. I think that really goes to show what type of kid he was.”
Tommy would be 24 years old today.
About Pet Talk: An Educational Animal Workshop on Staten Island
The workshop launched at P.S. 36, Annadale, on Tuesday. Tommy was a fourth-grade student at the school when he passed away.
Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella, Tommy’s family and representatives from the Animal Care Centers (ACC) of NYC announced the workshop at a student assembly. Later, ACC workers went into fourth-grade classrooms to discuss animals, pets and how to care for them.
Fossella talked to the students about Tommy and his immense love and compassion for all animals.
“Tommy Monahan was a very special young man, and the Monahan family has allowed us to continue to carry out his legacy of his love of animals and the importance of pets in people’s lives,” the borough president said.
Pet Talk is a collaboration between the borough president’s office, the ACC and Department of Education (DOE).
Katherine Reeves, community kids coordinator at ACC, shared with the students lots of information about the city animal shelters and what they do. The main mission of ACC is to end animal homelessness in the city. Locations are in Staten Island, Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx. Services include sheltering, pet adoption for cats, dogs, guinea pigs and rabbits, medical care and more. They also offer resources that help people take care of the pets.
“We have a food pantry in case people are having to make that decision between buying food for themselves or buying food for their pets,” Reeves explained. “They don’t have to make that decision. They can talk to us, and we can help them out.”
Open to Public and non-Public Schools
The animal workshop on Staten Island is open to all DOE and non-DOE schools in the borough. Fossella said he hopes to have the opportunity to expand the program throughout NYC.
“What we’re starting here at P.S. 36, it’s our goal to expand this program not just throughout Staten Island, but our hope is throughout the city,” Fossella, who has a dog named Malibu, said.
In life and death, Tommy dedicated so much of his very short time in this world to helping animals. He and his sister would often collect money for the ACC on Staten Island.
“He was only 9, but he started collecting money for the animal shelter for as long as I can remember,” Gabby, a teacher, said. “We would get old coffee cans, take the wrapper off and say it was the curse jar. So if anyone would say a curse word or bad word, they would have to put coins in the jar. Every year on his birthday we would go and donate the money to the animal care center on Staten Island.”
Last year, the shelter, located in Charleston, re-opened with a whole new look. Its lobby is dedicated to Tommy and named in his honor.
“I am proud to be his sister. Now that this whole initiative is happening and has come to fruition, I take it as a sign from him that he is following me. My family is really excited for this next step in remembering him and building his legacy even more. If he can impact one kid, one kid to save that insect. To nurture their pet and be responsible pet owners and nature lovers, I think that’s more than anyone can ask for.”
To learn more about the Animal Care Centers of NYC, visit nycacc.org.
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