Students:

Ella Torres and Lauren Harris.

School:

Friends' Central School in Wynnewood, where they are eighth graders.

Achievement:

Torres, 14, of Lafayette Hill, and Harris, 13, of Drexel Hill, have been campaigning against puppy mills in Pennsylvania with classmates Francesca Abramson, Lindsi Wilson and Jasmine Kinsey as part of their Earth Force Youth Project.

Earth Force is a national organization that encourages young people to become active citizens who improve the environment and their communities through service learning projects.

The students brought Bill Smith, the founder of Main Line Animal Rescue who appeared on Oprah Winfrey's show April 4, and his dog, Shrimp, a puppy mill survivor, to Friends' Central on May 12 to advocate for the passage of a law against puppy mills in Pennsylvania.

Question:

How did you get involved in this project?

Harris:

The day before our science teacher, Mr. Doug Ross, told our class that we were going to have to do an Earth Force Youth Project, my grandmother was telling me about the horrors of puppy mills, and I knew that this was what I wanted to focus my project on.

Q:

What is the goal of your project?

Torres:

To get the legislation passed that bans abusive puppy mills.

Q:

How have you campaigned?

Harris:

We've created a Web site, freewebs.com/savingpuppiesfrompuppymills; we posted flyers; we sent out e-mails; we presented at the Earth Force Youth Summit; and we've gotten signatures on petitions.

Q:

Which method has been the most successful? How much response have you gotten?

Torres:

The Web site, because the Internet is such a great source for communication. We've gotten a lot, especially on our blog.

Q:

Are your classmates supportive?

Torres:

Yes, incredibly. After Bill Smith came, we had tons of people coming up to us in the hall saying how terrible the puppy mills are.

Q:

You have an emotional video about puppy mills on your Web site. Have you visited any puppy mills?

Harris:

We haven't, but we are really interested in having the opportunity to do so. We are also interested in saving the puppies from the mills with Bill Smith.

Q:

Why did you want Bill Smith to visit your school?

Harris:

When we saw him on

Oprah

, we knew that he would be a great source of knowledge for our school to hear from.

Q:

What's something you learned from him when he visited?

Torres:

How much exercise the dogs don't get, and how terrible the living spaces are.

Q:

What did you think of Shrimp?

Harris:

We thought Shrimp was adorable. We were completely amazed by the transformation Shrimp has made from his puppy mill days.

Q:

How has Shrimp changed?

Harris:

Shrimp has changed dramatically. I got a chance to hold him, and he was so soft, even though he has many skin problems from the puppy mill. I was surprised at how nice of a dog he is even after what he went through.

Q:

Do you have dogs? If so, how much have they been the reason for your campaign against puppy mills?

Harris:

One of the main reasons for this project was my rescued dog. I could not imagine what he went through, and I want to help dogs that are going through the same things he went through. I have another dog, which was bought in Lancaster, but at that time, we did not know that it is the puppy mill capital.

Torres:

It was my main goal because I could not imagine my dog going through something like this; therefore, the next dog, we're hoping to get from a rescue.

Q:

How long do you plan to campaign? What's your next goal?

Harris:

We plan to campaign until the legislation is passed, so however long it takes. If the legislation gets passed, we'd like to ban the law that allows you to shoot a dog in Pennsylvania.

Q:

What can people do to help? How can they contact you?

Torres:

People can sign our petitions. They can go to our Web site to contact us. They can contact their representative and tell him to vote to ban abusive puppy mills.

What a teacher says:

"They started off with really strong leadership," said Doug Ross, who teaches eighth-grade science at Friends' Central Middle School.

"In the beginning, they had different opinions about how to do things, but they've listened to each other, and they've all chipped in - I think it makes them a very powerful group.

"We're very proud of their Earth Force project. It was one of the more ambitious projects to try to influence legislation, and they cared about animals and followed through."

- Shannon Hallamyer