Young Philanthropists: Katherine Schwarzenegger

As an ambassador for the ASPCA and a New York Times best-selling author, Katherine Schwarzenegger uses her influence to spread awareness about animal rescue. She has shared stories of her own experiences with fostering and adopting pets, including her beloved dog, Maverick. Maverick was just four weeks old when he was found under the freeway in South Central and Schwarzenegger took him in. He was the inspiration for Maverick and Me, a children’s book authored by Schwarzenegger that introduces kids to the “adopt, don’t shop” concept.

Brooke Kelly: Tell me about your work with the ASPCA. 

Katherine Schwarzenegger: Over the past five years, I’ve supported many major initiatives for the ASPCA, ranging from adoption and rescue, ending the sale of puppy mill dogs, to helping victims of hoarding and dogfighting. I’ve also helped support the ASPCA’s work to change the conditions of factory farming. In addition, I played a role in promoting how the ASPCA is working to change laws in California when I co-hosted an ASPCA event at the State Capital in Sacramento and met with state legislators, in an effort to protect vulnerable animals.

I also had the pleasure of co-hosting a panel with Jenna Bush Hager at the ASPCA Adoption Center in New York City, featuring the book I wrote called Maverick and Me, about my own experience with fostering and adopting. Each year, millions of dogs find themselves in shelters through no fault of their own, and Maverick empowered many young people to advocate for shelter pups who desperately needed a second chance at life.

This theme was also one of the things that inspired my recent book, The Gift of Forgiveness: Inspiring Stories from Those Who Have Overcome the Unforgivable, a compilation of stories of forgiveness. Seeing an animal’s ability and inclination to forgive cruelty and have the capacity to love and trust again was one of the overriding themes in The Gift of Forgiveness—featuring stories of 22 people including Elizabeth Smart and Tanya Brown (sister of Nicole Brown Simpson), who similarly had to overcome unimaginable tragedy and loss.  

BK: How has the pandemic affected the ASPCA in the past year and how can our readers help? 

KS: At the start of the pandemic, the ASPCA launched its $7.5 million COVID-19 Relief & Recovery Initiative to bring lifesaving services to pet owners and animals in need and funding to more than 80 animal welfare organizations across 35 states whose programs, operations, or fundraising capabilities have been severely impacted by the pandemic.

 As part of its response effort, the ASPCA created regional pet food distribution centers and curbside delivery services in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, and Asheville, North Carolina to provide more than 1,900 tons of emergency food for dogs, cats, and horses to struggling owners. Please consider making a donation to help the ASPCA be prepared for emergencies and continue their lifesaving work.