Learn more about the Pet Education Program (PEP!) from SB Magazine's Q&A with founder/president Erica Callais Falbaum. 

SB: How did you go about starting the non-profit organization PEP!?

ECF: I started volunteering at a local shelter. On the first day, they were like, ‘don’t answer the phone because the calls are constant’. People coming in were constant, so you couldn’t get your work done. I thought it was madness. I realized we’re never going to catch up because the problem is always there. I decided that we have to start keeping these pets in the home instead of allowing people to think they’re disposable.

SB: What are the primary goals of PEP!?

ECF: To educate kids in order to end the cycle of overpopulation abuse, neglect and euthanasia.

SB: Tell us about the expansion that PEP! has gone through.

ECF: We just opened two other chapters in Los Olivos, Calif. and Dickinson, N.D. We get new requests around the world every week and we’re volunteer-run. Our goal is to be in every city and reach every single kid, so our PEP! Talk program is what’s being branched out right now, but we also have our free magazine that we mail to kids around the world. Right now, it’s going to six different countries and 30 different states. It’s called Happy Tails and you can subscribe through our website, ilovepep.org.

SB: You just wrote a children’s book, correct?

ECF: I did. The point of the organization is to educate through entertainment. Kids won’t learn unless it’s interesting, so we want to create a line of products that the kids will engage with. The book is called PEP! Squad: The 5 Steps to a Happy and Healthy Pet. It’s available on Amazon, and at some local retailers such as Lewis Gifts, University Vet Hospital, Cat Doctor, and other places.

SB: How many kids have you reached so far?

ECF: We have reached over 100,000 kids since founded which is pretty incredible considering we’ve operated on a micro budget for so many years, and we’re volunteer-run. This fall, we’re launching a new campaign called Be Cool, Not Cruel to teach kids how to be kind to animals and talk about pit-bull problems and things of that nature.

SB: How can schools go about having you for a PEP! Talk?

ECF: All they have to do is go on our website (ilovepep.org) and fill out the PEP! Talk form. This makes it easy to request us and it’s free.