AYLESFORD — Colton Saltzman grew up around animals.
So when the call came to help the Homeless Animal Rescue Team pay its growing vet bill, he was there do what he could.
The Grade 9 student at Middleton Regional High School went door to door getting pledges and donations, raising more than $700 for the Aylesford-based team of volunteers that takes in abandoned cats and dogs.
"I wanted to help any way I could," the tall 14-year-old said in an interview at the home of Laurie Wheeler, president of the animal rescue team.
He pledged to run 10 kilometres for every $100 that he raised. Colton said he has five cats and two dogs at home and his mother, Debbie, provides a foster home for animals when she can.
He was one of five students from the Annapolis Valley who raised $1,600 for the vet bill, which sometimes exceeds $4,000 per month.
The team has all the animals it fosters vaccinated, tested and spayed or neutered by Annapolis Royal veterinarian Jody Rice before sending them off to new homes.
The group of volunteers has rescued hundreds of animals since the team was formed a year ago to deal with the growing problem of stray, abandoned and feral cats.
It started out getting about a dozen calls a week about such cats. Now team members are called as many as 125 times a week.
They recently began rescuing dogs, accepting calls from anywhere between Weymouth and Halifax.
All the money comes from fundraising and donations. In summer and fall, the group raises funds through yard sales and flea markets, other sources of funding are needed in the winter months.
Several children raised money for the team, but the top five fundraisers were Colton, Ty Hunt, 9, of Port Royal; Chandler Austin-Deveau, 9, of Kentville; Levi Smith, 9, of New Minas; and Sevannah Leclerk of Kingston.