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Quest for unconditional love: Spokane teen works to help homeless with pets

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SPOKANE, Wash. -

As Olympic athletes strive for gold, a teenager in Spokane is striving for a cause.

Avery Plank is only 15, but five years ago, he founded his own charity called Project Unconditional Love.

The freshman at Mt. Spokane High School took his love for animals, and created a way to make it possible for other people to experience the same joy you can only feel from having a pet.

Spending time in downtown Spokane, it's not uncommon to see homeless people with a dog walking at their side.

Plank noticed as a kid, and contacted the director of a charity that feeds homeless people.

"I asked her does anyone supply dog food or vaccines or anything, and she said no not really," he recalled.

A few days later, he and his dad set up at the weekly distribution for Blessings under the Bridge.

"We just went down there with a few cardboard boxes of dog and cat food and passed them out," Plank said. "And we really didn't stop."

That afternoon in 2013, he started Project Unconditional Love, giving pet food to people who can't always afford it, so they too can experience the unconditional love only a dog or cat can give.

Now every week, Plank goes to his storage unit -- which National Storage donates to him, and he bags up cat and dog food.

Through his donation bins at Northwest Seed and Pet, and his Amazon wish list, he helps homeless people feed their pets every week.

Founder Jessica Kovac says many people they serve rely on Plank to take care of their companions.

"It's awesome. We've been doing pet food since we started, but he kind of brought another twist to it. besides his food, collars, outfits, love," Kovac explained. "They know Avery and they come to get the special treats they need for their animals."

At their Wednesday night distributions, Plank sees the impact of his work, as people often feed their pets with his food, before they feed themselves.

Sometimes, he's even seen the giving come full circle.

"The week before this event we were really low on dog food, and this guy who we had been feeding for about 6 months at that point," Plank said, "he came up to us with a 20 dollar bill and said you need this more than I do. That was really touching."

Now, Plank has set his sights on expanding, to soon be able to offer vaccines, spays and neuters, and create starter kits, so other kids can set up similar giving programs across the country.

It's all an effort by one teen with a huge heart, to help as many people and pets as he can.

"I plan to do it until I die I guess," Plank said. "I don't see a reason to stop, and I only see reasons to keep going."

Plank got even more good news last week. Country superstar and pet rescuer Miranda Lambert signed a donated guitar for him while she was in Spokane, and he plans to auction it off as a fundraiser in the future.

As soon as he sets a date for that, we'll let you know. 

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