CLOSTER, N.J. — Jackie Goldstein was terrified of animals when she was three years old.
"She wouldn't even go over a friend's house if they had a dog," her mom, Mindy, said.
Goldstein cried when Mindy brought home a Havanese puppy named Franklin.
Franklin saw Goldstein's tears and tried to console her. Pretty soon, the two were inseparable.
"Frankie was just always there for me when I needed him," Goldstein, now 13, told Daily Voice. "He really helped me come out of my shell."
Eventually, the girl who was once terrified of animals was reading books on animal cruelty and trying to find ways to help.
"She actually wrote the Starbucks corporation to try to get them to donate money to save the rain forest," Mindy said.
Last year, Goldstein recruited 25 dog owners to participate in the inaugural "Dog Walk 5K," which she created to complement the Tenafly 5K Run. She raised over $1,500 to donate to local animal shelters.
"I was surprised at how the community rallied to support me," the Dwight Englewood Middle School student said.
Goldstein is doing it again and has recruited more than 50 dog owners to walk with her and Franklin.
Her goal is to raise $2,000 for Tenafly animal rescue Pet ResQ Inc.
"I met with [Pet ResQ owner] Robyn Urman and I was amazed by her dedication and how many helpless animals she has saved," Goldstein said.
When Goldstein is old enough, she plans to volunteer at Pet ResQ. Until then, she says she will continue to work to expand the Dog Walk 5K by bringing it to other towns.
"Lots of towns already have 5K's so why not set it up where the runners leave and then the walkers and their dogs leave five minutes later?" Goldstein said.
She added that you are never too young to make a difference.
"If kids use their passion and creativity they can find a way to make a change for the good," Goldstein said.
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