Sophia Pruitt: Dogs’ Best Friend

Meet the Greta Thunberg of local animal advocacy, 17-year-old Sophia Pruitt.

Tony Valainis

This past Thanksgiving, Sophia Pruitt, 17, woke up to a call from her boss. Many teenagers might have ignored it and rolled back over, but Sophia answered the call and eagerly took up the offer on the other end, joining Dr. Mary Grabow, a veterinarian at Noah’s Animal Hospitals, for an emergency C-section. Sophia witnessed a litter of fuzzy French bulldog puppies born before the day’s festivities began.

Sophia is passionate about animals, and has been as long as she can remember. “When I was 2, I was organizing my little animal figurines by habitat,” she says. A few years later, she dressed as a Dalmatian and sold homemade dog treats on Lemonade Day. She took the $70 she earned to the Humane Society of Indianapolis and was offered a tour that jump-started her dedication to animal advocacy. She was 7 then, and has now been volunteering and fundraising for IndyHumane for a decade. She has fostered more than 60 animals, despite her dad’s cat allergy, and raised almost $38,000 to date.

Every achievement she notches just eggs her on to do more. “I think that I stay passionate because of the positive responses that I get from the community,” says Sophia. “My family and school are so supportive.”

A junior at Brebeuf, Sophia organizes several moneymaking ventures for IndyHumane, including her birthday-party fundraiser, which she started at age 8: She invited her entire class to the celebration, asking them not to bring gifts, but items to donate to the IndyHumane shelter. Kids brought dog and cat toys, pet beds, treats, and more. The party was such a success, it’s become an annual tradition. Sophia also runs Hoops for Hounds, a partnership with the Indiana Fever and Pacers, which she conceived in 2013 while at a Fever game with her family. Her latest project, a Mutt Strut team, is off to an early success: Last year, Sophia and Brebeuf’s dog, Chief, earned Mutt Strut’s Top Dog award for fundraising, beating out some heavy contenders and raising nearly $15,000 for the event. This year, the pair will be honored as Grand Marshals for the event, which takes place in April at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Sophia knows all her hours are making a difference at the shelter, saying, “the fact that I am able to see the results of my efforts makes it exciting.”

The amount of money Sophia has pulled in is next-level, especially for a teenager, says David Horth, CEO of IndyHumane. “We are very grateful for the money she raises, but we are just grateful to have her,” he says. “She’s a dynamic and positive and inspirational influence on IndyHumane.”

Sophia’s service has been recognized over the years, most recently when The Orchard School named her Graduate of the Last Decade for her dedication to animal service. “She was so surprised,” says her mother, Elliott Pruitt. “She has a lot of awards and accolades, but she would rather just save another pup or kitten.”

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