14-year-old Tony Zeng photographer extraordinaire. wow!

In a world of tiger mom stories, here’s a warm and fuzzy story about self-motivated 14-year-old Tony Zeng who created a charming commercial to encourage people to adopt shelter pets.  When I saw the video, I thought, there’s no way a kid made this!

Tony Zeng snapping picture of sea lion

If you’ve got 60 seconds, check it out:

Tony’s entered it in Shelter Me’s shelter pet video contest which ends Dec. 20, 2013.  The winning entry will be aired on national TV and I just think it would be swell for a talented kid to win it.

We don’t own pets b/c of my severe allergies, but if I weren’t a sneeze-o-rama-hive-crazy-mamma, we’d definitely get a shelter pet.

Did you know that currently, a shelter pet is put down every eight seconds?  That’s 11,000 per day and 3-4 million per year.  Sad.  So Tony wanted to make the public aware of this issue through his filmmaking skills.

B&A Felicia, photo: Tony Zeng

Tony’s story is quite heart-warming.  He met my friend Clarissa Ngo about three years ago as a shy boy who didn’t know his own strengths.  Clarissa has an incredible gift of teaching children how to unlock their passion through creative writing and other unique endeavors.  Under Clarissa’s guidance, her students won numerous accolades including finalists in national writing competitions, starting charities, signing big time book publishing deals, writing for the newspapers, speaking at TEDx (YES, several of her students have done this!), writing and producing commercials, and on and on.

Jack and Tony Zeng viewing wildlife in Galapagos

Clarissa quickly discovered Tony’s love of photography and that he was one of the winners of the L.A. Times summer travel photo contest with his African safari and Galapagos wildlife photos, so she encouraged him to take photos of shelter pets to promote adoption and thus save their lives.  His work is incredible.  Wow!  I’d love to pick his brain.

Tony Zeng's "Sunlight through Trees" taken while on his African Safari

It wasn’t easy for a shy boy to approach seven shelters and then get summarily rejected, but when Tony sent them an email with his award-winning safari photos, one of the shelters that had initially rejected him welcomed him with open arms.

Thus far, twenty of the dogs Tony photographed have been adopted.  Tony starting taking amazing before and after shelter pet photos.

B&A Taz, photo: Tony Zeng

Then, more amazing things happened.  Tony connected with Seth Casteel, a Chapman University grad who founded a charity to promote saving shelter pets through photography after becoming a NY Times bestselling author through his photos of underwater dogs.

Underwater Dogs by Seth Casteel

After Tony attended Seth’s workshop, Seth’s charity invited him to be featured together with Seth on an episode of PBS’s Shelter Me, a show that illuminates the joy shelter pets can bring to one’s life.  Tony was so encouraged by these wonderful people that he decided to enter their national commercial contest.

It’s my understanding that there may be some mean contestants out there voting down Tony’s entry, so I encourage you to see for yourself, vote from your heart, and vote often.  Contest ends Dec. 20, 2013.

Please vote here:  http://contest.shelterme.com/videos/253

I love stories about smart, talented and gung-ho kids.  What an inspiration Tony is to us all.

About meesh

Meesh has a passion for people, creative projects, and technology. She enjoys painting furniture back to life, gardening, playing with her kids, and connecting people.


  1. Sunshine says

    Very inspiring story. Good luck to Tony.

    • imeeshu says

      Isn’t it such an uplifting thing to see kids working hard and making a difference? I love it!!