Jim Key Pledge of Kindness


The launch week for Donna Janell Bowman’s STEP RIGHT UP continues! Between roughly 1898-1906, around two million people signed the original Jim Key Pledge of Kindness towards animals, which you can read the introduction of above. Most of the signatures were from kids! Today, our EMUs share personal moments of kindness towards animals. Be sure to read all the way to the end to check out Donna Janell Bowman’s revised Pledge of Kindness! And also, of course, for a chance to win a copy of her debut!

Little Jason Wanted to Rescue a Dog

I was a persistent little thing when I was a kid. When my family decided to move out of the big city of Spokane, Washington, to the small town of Deer Park, WA, I was convinced we needed another dog to go with all the extra acreage. My parents were pretty neutral about the idea, so I said, “Why don’t we just go to the shelter and *look* at dogs. We don’t have to get one.” In my mind, however, I was thinking, “I’m not walking out of that shelter without a dog,” which in hindsight I’m pretty sure Mom and Dad knew. I walked through the front door of that shelter, pointed at the first dog I saw, and said, “I want that one.” I don’t even think I fully saw what the cute canine was, I just really, REALLY wanted a new puppy. I’m so glad the first dog I saw was Shilo. She was the sweetest border collie/black lab mix with a heart of gold and a tail that could do more damage than a baseball bat. Like, Carrie Underwood should have trashed that truck in the music video of “Before He Cheats” with Shilo’s tail. – Jason Gallaher

Hayley’s Sister Spent the Night in a Kennel

My look-a-like sister spent 24 hrs. in a kennel recently to raise money for Cape Ann Animal Aid. There’s a picture too! – Hayley Barrett


Terry found an unexpected friend at the beach!

My problem is figuring out which rescue animal to choose from. All but one of our pets are rescue animals, but the one that truly needed rescuing because she was homeless was our 14543720_10210872113177661_6213554251607200980_odog, Rin. We had driven to a favorite windsurfing site for a week of vacation. After we’d parked, we opened the door, and a dog jumped in our van, right on my 6-year old son’s lap! We asked around trying to find the owner. Finally, one of the local windsurfers told us that the week before, he saw someone drive up, open their door and kick the dog out; then drove away. I was so angry at their cruelty! But it was soon tempered by the kindness of the local windsurfers, who had been taking care of her, trading off “dog duty” until they could find someone to adopt her. In that week, she and my son were inseparable. She was sweet, smart, loyal and affectionate, and I still can’t figure out why anyone would have abandoned her like that, or how they could be so cruel to just dump a her. But Rin soon became a member of our family and we loved her until she passed away at age 17 (the vet estimated she was a year old when she came into our lives).

After Rin passed away, we adopted two cats from a rescue center, one of which has vision problems and allergy issues…he soon became my “co-author” cat! (See, I could go on and on…). – Terry Pierce

Debbi rescues raptors!

When I was in college (a long time ago), I spent 3 years volunteering at a raptor rehabilitation center. I helped care for injured and orphaned owls, hawks, vultures, and eagles. I did education programs visiting area schools and organizations with (unreleasable) raptors. It was especially rewarding to release rehabilitated raptors back into the wild. That was many years ago. But three years ago, after we moved to Connecticut, I was sitting in my writing studio that overlooks a pond, and saw an osprey in the water! I was so excited! I ran to get my camera, hoping she wouldn’t fly away. She hadn’t. I snapped photo after photo. After awhile though, I wondered why she hadn’t flown away and waIMG_0353sn’t moving at all. I realized belatedly that she was in distress. The pond is mucky and I didn’t have waders so I asked the guy mowing our lawn for help (he had waders). We got the osprey out of the pond and into a carrier and I took her to the nearby rescue center. Turned out she was fine, just waterlogged. After rest and hydration, she was released and she flew away. YAY! – Debbi Michiko Florence

Katie became a Mouse Mom!

In my late teens, I worked at a zoo and one day came in to find a surprise. My coworkers had found a stranded baby mouse in the pony yard the day before. Clearly one of the barn mice mothers had lost a kiddo! It barely had fur, its eyes and ears were shut, and I was pretty sure it was dead when they showed it to me. They’d left it overnight already in a box with no warmth, no milk, nothing. But for whatever reason, they were sure I would be the one to bring it back to life. My coworkers begged me to take charge of it.

cheezitmeasureSince it wasn’t dead yet, I felt I had to at least try. I spent all day holding it, trying to warm it up, and trying to get it to drink at least a lick of milk. At the end of the day, I was about to give up and sadly place the mouse in the bushes to let nature take its course. But just then–a tiny pink tongue stuck out and took a small sip of the milk I’d been offering it. It was alive after all! And in a single moment, my heart was stolen.

We named him Cheezit because the box he was originally kept in, and after research told me he wouldn’t survive in the wild if I released him as an adult, he became my little buddy for nearly four years. Video here. – Katie Slivensky

Being kind to animals is something everyone is capable of. Doc Key knew this, and created his pledge to encourage others to embrace kindness over cruelty. Here is Donna’s updated and more inclusive version of the pledge. Soon, it will be downloadable, with original art, from Donna’s website.  Let’s make this a thing again, friends!

The Jim Key Pledge of Kindness

I promise to step right up and choose kindness.

I will respect the needs and feelings of others, including

furry, feathered, and finned friends.

I will share kind words, do good deeds, and help those in need—

because kindness can change the world. 


 Kindness, kindness, and more kindness—that’s the way.”

                           –William “Doc” Key


You can grab your own copy of Donna Janell Bowman’s STEP RIGHT UP on October 15 at IndieBound, Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Donna is also giving away a signed copy of her book! All you have to do is comment on any of the posts celebrating Donna’s launch this week, and a winner will be randomly selected.


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5 responses to “Jim Key Pledge of Kindness

  1. Jason Gallaher

    I love all these stories! Katie, I’m so impressed with your skills of bringing that little mouse back to life!


  2. mariagianferrari

    Thanks for compiling all of these wonderful animal stories, Katie!! love cheez-it–such a cutie!! We’ve had a few pet rats, and I was especially attached to our first one, Sky. She was the sweetest, most affectionate creature. I still miss her. And then, there is my rescue dog, Becca, writing companion–I just love her so much.

    And I love the pledge of kindness!! 🙂 Congrats again to you, Donna!!


  3. mariagianferrari

    And Terry, that story about your dog, Rin, made me cry–happy tears of course! So lucky and happy that you all found each other. It is such a gift! My dog, Becca, was dumped near a highway. I can’t believe that person’s cruelty, and ultimately stupidity, because we got the best dog in the universe out of it. I’m so grateful to the people who rescued her, and that she came into our lives!! 🙂


  4. Oh, y’all, these are beautiful stories. Exactly what I was hoping for this book—a conscious decision about kindness. Thank you all so much! And, Katie, thank you for the post. I love it!


  5. These are all such heartwarming stories! Katie, I love the video you made for Cheezit — what a wonderful tribute. Donna, the Jim Key Pledge of Kindness is awesome!


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