Seairah Watson-Fountaine knows it’s better to give than it is to receive, especially when those you are helping do not have the means to help themselves.

Watson-Fountaine, a fifth grader at Ames Elementary School in Searsmont, turned 11 on Jan. 6. But instead of garnering a pile of gifts from family and friends, the girl asked for pet supplies.

“Every year for my birthday I ask for dog food, cat food, blankets and stuff for animals instead of presents,” said Watson-Fountaine in a recent interview with VillageSoup.

Watson-Fountaine started that tradition last year, on her 10th birthday. The supplies are then donated to the Camden-Rockport Animal Rescue League in Knox County.

The youth said she does it because she’s always loved animals, and because she wants to be a police officer who works with a dog, a team-up that is commonly known as a K9 unit.

“I really like animals and I enjoy training them,” said Watson-Fountaine.

The girl has a 6-year-old Irish wolfhound named Bear, an animal that Seairah’s mother, Penny Watson, said is large in stature but gentle in nature. Watson-Fountaine helped her mom work with Bear over the years, and now the family is considering serving as a foster home for those pets who have yet to find their forever homes.

That will not only give the mother and daughter a chance to help animals, but will also giving Watson-Fountaine the opportunity to learn more about what it takes to train a dog or puppy.

“It’ll give the shelter more room for more animals to come in,” said Watson.

Watson noted that lack of training is a big reason why many puppies and dogs end up in the shelters.

Watson-Fountaine said she plans to continue making local shelters a priority on her future birthdays because she feels the needs of the animals living in the shelter are more pressing than her own desire for gifts.

When asked what it’s like to deliver a carload of pet supplies to the shelter staff, Watson-Fountaine said seeing all of the homeless animals “makes me want to cry.”

“I saw a cat that looked just like my old cat and I wanted to take him home,” she said.