“I haven’t given up yet.” 8-year-old wins Kentucky award for tireless advocacy for shelter animals.

Published 5:57 am Saturday, May 22, 2021

Ethan Branscum continues to advocate for shelter animals, and his work is attracting attention.

The 8-year-old resident of Frankfort recently received the 2021 Humane Advocate Award from the Humane Society of the United States–Kentucky.

“Given Ethan’s tireless commitment to bringing awareness to shelter and rescue pets across the state and passing legislation on their behalf, we couldn’t think of a more worthy recipient for this year’s award,” said Todd Blevins, the Kentucky state director with HSUS.

Ethan first drew attention for his work to pass legislation to have shelter pets named the official state pet of Kentucky.

Ethan wrote several legislators last session about his proposal, and state Sen. Adrienne Southworth, R-Lawrenceburg, was able to file a bill at the last minute that would “name and designate as the official pets of Kentucky domestic cats and dogs that reside in or have been adopted from Kentucky animal shelters or rescue organizations.”

Inclement weather scrambled the legislature’s schedule and the bill didn’t make it out of committee, but Southworth did introduce a resolution that passed. The resolution asked Kentuckians to consider adopting pets from a shelter.

Ethan is determined to have shelter pets named the state’s official pet.

“I haven’t given up yet,” he said. “We’re working on that, and I’m not going to give up until it passes. After that we’ll go to the national level.”

Right now Ethan is focusing on other local issues. He’s still doing his show, “The Rescue Report,” on his social media

pages, facebook.com/Ethansrescuepetproject and instagram.com/ethans_rescue_pet_projcect, and he’s been helping promote adoptable animals at the Franklin County Humane Society shelter.

Because visitors aren’t allowed at the shelter due to COVID restrictions, volunteers take pictures of adoptable animals and send them to Ethan to use.

“We usually choose the one that’s been there the longest,” he said about the pets that are featured on his social media pages. “Once they get adopted, we go to one that’s been there a shorter time.”
Ethan has done all this while recovering from a broken arm.

“I broke my arm on my bike,” he said. “I had a solid cast and had to wear a sling. Now I have a removable one (cast), and I don’t have to wear the sling.”

That’s a welcome change for Ethan, who before breaking his arm wore a dress shirt and sports coat for “The Rescue Report.”

“When I had the solid cast, I wore short-sleeved, casual shirts,” he said. “I like being able to wear long-sleeved shirts.”

Ethan was selected as a celebrity waiter for the Franklin County Humane Society’s Celebrity Waiters Dinner and auction, which will be online this year, and he’ll be making a video for it.

He’s also working on fundraisers for the local humane society, which is raising money to build a new shelter.

Ethan has sold shirts that have raised $300, and he’s thinking of a bake sale.

“After we’re through with COVID, I’d like to sell some doggie brownies,” he said. “We’d make them to look like a dog’s face, but dogs couldn’t ingest them because they’ll be made of chocolate. The eyes will be dark chocolate, and for that sparkle in their eyes we’d use white icing, and they’d have a dark chocolate nose.”
Dogs couldn’t eat the brownies because chocolate is toxic to dogs.

In the past Ethan has had a lemonade stand in front of New Leash on Life, the humane society’s thrift store located at 415 W. Broadway St.

Ethan has one other project in mind.

“I’m thinking of starting a junior advocacy program,” he said. “We could educate kids on animal issues. Kids are the future leaders and that’s important, especially with Kentucky being pretty much at the back of line on animal welfare laws.”