7-year-old Boy Wins the ASPCA Award for Rescuing More Than 1,300 Dogs from High-Kill Shelters

Bless your heart, Roman. ❤


Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world,” and no matter how encouraging it sounds, most of us feel like we are way too “tiny” to be able to ever change something. Well, it turns out that sometimes it only takes just a boy with a heart of gold and an innocent soul for positive changes to take place.


It all started when young Roman McConn, who was 4 at the time, and his mother visited a shelter to get a dog. But how could he possibly choose just the pet for him when there were a huge number of canines waiting to be saved? The sight of so many dogs longing for their forever homes crushed Roman’s heart. But he was way too young to be able to make things different, or at least we think so. No matter his age, this sweet boy set his mind on becoming these dogs’ hero. And no matter how incredible it sounds, his dream did come true with the help of his mother who always trusted she should never limit her son’s dreams.

Seattle Refined

Looking at all those dogs, Roman couldn’t stop asking his mother why they were there and not with humans who would love them. Jen, his mom, tried answering his questions, although she didn’t know many of the answers herself.

Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune

That day, this mother and son adopted a dog they named Luna, but Roman wouldn’t stop thinking of the rest of the animals. His innocence was so pure that he told his mom he knew how to help the rest of the shelter animals. She was trilled to listen to what he had to say. And his solution sounded way too simple yet that much complex. He suggested to find the dogs homes. Of course, everyone was hoping for that, but Roman was way too young to understand that it wasn’t an easy thing to do.


Realizing how much Roman wanted to help, Jen decided to take him to the shelter as often as possible so that he could play with the dogs and feel useful. But then, as time passed by, these two came up with an idea to start a project that would gather more attention they ever hoped for.

Roman not only played with his new friends, but he told them stories and read them books.

While Roman had fun around the dogs, Jen took pictures and made videos of the bonding time and then highlighted interesting points about each of the dogs, hoping it would help potential adopters choose a dog based on what they were looking at their new pet.

One of the cute videos features Roman and a canine named Sadie. The sweet boy could be heard saying, “She’s super shy and she hasn’t been trained to walk on a leash, so her new owner needs to be really patient.”  Needless to say, people found these videos beyond adorable.

Project Freedom Ride / Facebook

“I can tell you [Sadie’s] super sweet,” he continued. “But she really needs to be trained to walk on a leash [so she can] be a happy dog like all the other dogs.”

Project Freedom Ride / Facebook

Roman made videos for a huge number of dogs. Below, he’s pictured with Legend, a deaf dog, and Cady, who lost her eye in an accident.

However, back in 2016, they came across a problem. Namely, Roman’s dad, who is part of the Navy, had to locate overseas, and Roman and his mom had to move to Washington D.C. Sadly, it meant they could no longer visit the Texas high-kill shelter and continue helping the dogs.

Others in the place of Jen and Roman would probably ditch the idea of finding homes to dogs so far from their home, but not these two. Jen not only didn’t quit on her son’s dream, but she believed it would be even better if all those dogs could find their homes in Washington. “The world for a dog, generally speaking,” she said, “was so much better up here in Washington than down there in Texas…People take them hiking and there’s stuff to do.”

At first, she said she would start an Underground Railroad, which was a transportation network that transported slaves from captivity to free states in the 19th century. She joked, of course, but she later realized it wouldn’t be such a bad idea if she could make it work.

You have probably figured it out until now that the sky was the limit for these determined and dedicated mother and son.

Soon, they started the Project Freedom Ride and started with bringing around 31 dogs from the Texas high-kill shelter to loving homes in Washington. Of course, it was all possible because of Roman’s cute videos.

Believe it or not, Jen and Roman helped 1,050 dogs get their happy ending by 2018. Speaking of their work, she wrote on Instagram, “Roman has literally become the lifeblood of Project Freedom Ride.”

As for Roman, he says, “It makes me feel happy saving all these dogs. But it doesn’t just make me happy, I’m sure it makes all the dogs happy.”

People fell in love with what Roman and Jen are doing. Their Project Freedom Ride has many followers on the social media. It also attracted the attention of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, who rewarded Roman with the ASPCA award and flew him out to New York City for the ceremonies. Until now, the number of dogs the project helped is 1300. Both Roman and Jen hope to extend it even further. Aren’t these two an amazing team?