Fort Bend County resident Frannie Joseph is taking the lead for making the world a safer place for all animals. The 11-year-old is a friend and defender for not only the safe treatment of domesticated animals, but also for wild animals.
She’s organizing lemonade stands and fundraisers for animal advocacy and has her classmates at Sienna Crossing Elementary School, along with other schools across Texas, involved with the campaign.
“I feel if we don’t take care of animals, then who will?” Joseph said.
Her quest to help animals began in the fall of 2017. When Hurricane Harvey hit, Joseph and her family were evacuated from their flooded neighborhood in Sienna Plantation for five days. After hearing about the many animals who were abandoned in the flood on the news, Joseph knew her time to help had come.
Her neighborhood lemonade stand “Harvey’s Animal Helpers” raised a total of $3,500 in donations for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) within a three-day span. As a result, the HSUS presented her with a trip to Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, the animal sanctuary in Murchison, where Joseph helped take care of the animals and learned more about the world-renowned animal sanctuary.
The Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, founded in 1979 by author and animal advocate Cleveland Amory, takes care of more than 800 animals and not just horses. There are apes, monkeys, tigers and bears. Some of the animals came to the staff neglected or sick. The ranch is not an adoption center, but instead a place where animals can safely spend the rest of their lives.
After visiting the ranch, Joseph understood the need to make people aware of how to help animals. She also knew there was power in numbers. So Joseph had one important thing to do before summer vacation began.
The fifth grader, with the support of the school administrators at Sienna Crossing, organized a large fundraiser for the ranch. Soon boxes in the school were overflowing with supplies such as paper towels, hand sanitizers and blankets for the animals.
Joseph’s hard work paid off in another way. A local donor contributed $10,000 to her fundraiser to help the animals at the ranch.
Still, Joseph didn’t stop there. She traveled to Austin with her family to testify in front of a Texas Senate committee in support of an HSUS-authored bill, Senate Bill 641, which would have prohibited private ownership of dangerous wild animals.
The bill was introduced after a tiger was found in a homeowner’s garage in Houston in February. The tiger is now living at the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch inside a 5-acre wooded habitat complex.
A strong supporter of the ranch during the testimony, Joseph pointed out to lobbyists and politicians that tigers ‘“don’t make good pets.’”
“It’s not the kind of life a tiger should have. When I talk to my friends at school, we all agreed that we like and respect tigers as wild animals but don’t think they make good pets,” she said. “That is what dogs and cats are for.”
All total, including fundraisers and donations to her cause since Hurricane Harvey, Joseph has raised about $17,000 for both the Humane Society and Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch.
Katie Jarl, regional director for the Humane Society of the United States in Texas, along with Noelle Almrud, director of the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, said they are impressed with Joseph’s dedication.
“Frannie’s commitment to giving back at such a young age gives me hope, and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for this remarkable young woman,” Jarl said.
According to Almrud, Joseph not only has the passion for helping animals, but also has the needed motivation to get things done.
“Frannie truly inspires us every day and we are so thankful for her support,” Almrud said.
Joseph continues to help the animals at the ranch, including participating in public outreach events; talking to other children about what they can do to save the animals and encouraging other kids to volunteer and help at area animal shelters.
She also plans to have more lemonade stands in Sienna Plantation and work on creating a website and YouTube channel with her sister to educate other children about saving both wild and domesticated animals, with educational links and interviews. She’s writing out a “How to start a school fundraiser” letter for the ranch, so other schools can benefit from her successful fundraising.
Her mom, Anita, says Frannie was always a determined, driven youngster.
“Even when she was learning to ride a bike it was just, ‘Take off the training wheels and let me go and I’m doing it.’ I was always surprised by that,” Anita said. “She’s a leader at school and sets a good example, but when she went to the ranch for the weekend, that’s when it triggered her need to help animals.“
When she’s not volunteering for animals, Joseph takes care of her own dogs, Maggie and Charley. She plans to become a zoologist or a veterinarian and wants to attend Texas A&M University.