Youth Award - Marley Dixon
Marley Dixon is an exceptional 15-year-old whose accomplishments have earned her Dakin Humane Society’s Youth Award, which honors a hero, 16 years or younger, who displays extraordinary care and compassion to make a difference in the lives of animals and makes the world a kinder and gentler place.
In addition to being in 10th grade, Marley volunteers for several animal organizations, including the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary (CVHAS), and Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities in Torrington, CT. Marley is also on the National Youth Leadership Council for Farm Sanctuary and has written to local, state, and federal lawmakers to strengthen animal protections.
“I’ve been volunteering and advocating since I was tiny,” she said. “My parents are involved in various causes and organizations and they have always set an example.”
Marley’s work on behalf of the CVHAS is especially meaningful. She was in kindergarten in Newtown, CT when the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting took place in December 2012. Six-year-old Catherine Violet Hubbard was one of the 20 children who lost their lives that day; a little girl who always wanted to bring compassion and kindness to everyone, including animals. Marley recalled, “I coordinated a pet food drive for their organization, and met Ms. Jenny Hubbard, the founder, also Catherine’s mother. I realized the organization was great, and I’ve been involved ever since.”
One of the CVHAS’s recent events in which Marley took part was the Butterfly Party, a three-state rescue adoption event that had 10,000 guests and over 100 pet adoptions. The event was held on what would have been Catherine’s birthday. “I got to ring a cowbell every time there was an adoption,” Marley remembered. “It was so fun.
“I also love helping with their Senior Paw program, a support service that keeps senior citizens and their pets together,” she explained. “Ms. Hubbard asked me to be on their advisory board and I was so honored.”
Providing written testimony to lawmakers is a task most adults would find very daunting, but Marley approached it with determination and focus. “It really helped to be prepared,” she said. “I learned to do the research and gather facts. I got samples of letters from different advocacy organizations, and learned to be clear, brief, and have strong and personal examples. Along the way, I learned that animals bring out a soft spot in people who may disagree about everything else. I also learned that sometimes laws take a really long time to move.”
What Marley has found most satisfying in all her efforts on behalf of animals is quite personal. “This really helped me find a voice,” she stated. “I used to be so quiet that people would ask my parents if I could talk. Now, I speak freely and I think I can help give a voice to the voiceless. I want to show compassion for all creatures, and make sure that animals have a chance to live the lives they deserve. I think every creature deserves justice.”
With such dedication and drive, Marley is bound to make a difference in her future. As for career aspirations, she is interested in psychiatric nursing and focusing on how animals impact mental health and help heal people.
When Marley is not busy advocating for causes close to her heart, she spends time playing drums and violin, writing, and painting. She lives with a growing menagerie of rescue pets that include two cats (Jellybean and Sushi), and two dogs (Humphrey and Dewey).