In partnership with The Animal Welfare Fund of New Jersey and the NJCAR Foundation, the Lesniak Institute’s essay contest encouraged participation by New Jersey students in elementary, middle and high school. The goal of the contest was to inspire students to use their writing skills to promote the need to protect animals from cruelty and to save animals from extinction. Below, please find one of our winning essays.


Student: Sarah R.
School: Memorial Middle School
Title: How to Save a Life


Head away from the sun, she felt pain. Under that car, the only thing that could touch her was what would happen next. With a few last breaths, she fell asleep, never to be seen again. In the animal world, you reach a point where you can’t save one from death, and we all must meet that truth. This story, however, will not be about the worst parts of an animal’s life, on the other hand, you’ll learn about all of the other parts. If every person in New Jersey and the world followed this example, then all living things would be treated more humanely and be happier.

“Over here!” He exclaimed. With a few quick movements, they pulled the car over on the side of the road. About 18 years ago, my grandfather discovered one, single, alone kitten in a white garbage bag. What he did shows how we can save animals. It’s how we can treat them humanely, just as we would for our own pets. It’s not how their lives end, it’s what leads up to the end of their lives that matters. When we all have this realization, then all creatures will be treated humanely, but until then we must follow the examples of others.

“Over here, Danny, come quick!” My grandpa shouted from behind the guardrail. His face looked grim. “Just come over here and we’ll figure out what to do,” he shouted again with even more anxiousness in his voice. With a few swift movements, Danny wrapped the cat in a newly blood-covered cloth.

“You’re going to be alright, little kitty,” he demanded, telling it what it had to do. If only we had found it sooner. Why does this happen to some cats? Who would do this to such an innocent animal? Thoughts raced through his head a mile a minute.“Let’s go!” My grandfather shouted accordingly. They were running out of time. Is this cat even worth saving? With a sigh, he stepped into the car with the cat wrapped up in Danny’s hands, and he took off driving as fast as he could towards his house.

Lucky for us, this story doesn’t have as horrible of an ending as you would envision. With the compassion that every human has in them, the little poor kitten was cleaned up. Once dirt and blood were washed away, a beautiful creature full of life emerged. That little kitten, named Mouser, never fully recovered from being thrown out onto the road, but her life became a lot better. Because that one person decided to save the feline’s life, she lived a much happier, longer life until it was time for her to go.

As you must know, many people in New Jersey and the whole country have pets. These pets, ranging in all different sizes must be treated humanely and fairly to live a joyful life, and many creatures in this time aren’t treated this way. In New Jersey, the kind of situation that happened to Mouser still goes on today. Whether its an owner abandoning its pet, or a shelter killing dogs when they hold too many strays, it’s a large reality in this world going on today. In New Jersey, we should feel obligated to treat living things correctly and not abandon them to have a hard time surviving in harsh conditions.

Too many animals are treated inhumanely, and it’s time to put a stop to it. Volunteer at shelters. Help animals near you. Give them the chance to live a long, joyous life. Only then can you really appreciate the pleasure that they bring into the world. Be the people to change it all.