Palo Alto Humane Society Announces 2021 Story Writing Competition

The deadline for the PAHS Writing Contest has passed.

We hope the extra month will encourage 7th & 8th graders in Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and San Mateo counties to become Ambassadors of Compassion by writing a fiction or nonfiction story on the theme of animals and people

Tell a story and be an Ambassador of Compassion!

For 7th and 8th Grade Students

Students in grades 7 and 8 are invited to write a story on the theme of animals and people helping each other in emotional and or physical ways. The story should speak to how compassionate action makes a difference in the lives of their characters. The story, either fiction or nonfiction, can be about domestic pets, farm animals, or animals in the wild. Stories should be between 800 and 1,000 words in length. The competition is open to students attending public or private schools in San Mateo, Santa Cruz, or Santa Clara Counties.

The winning author will receive a monetary award of $500 and two runner-up authors will receive $200 each. The winning stories will be published in print form and on the Palo Alto Humane Society (PAHS) website. They will join PAHS’ library of stories about animals and kindness and will be a highlight of PAHS’ 2021 Creating Compassionate Communities campaign.

Think of the many ways that animals help people: companionship, therapy and healing, safety and rescue, support for soldiers, helping on the farm; and think of how people help animals in return.

As you create your story, keep in mind what the word compassion means. Here’s a definition from an organization called The Compassion Project:  Compassion is when you notice that another person or animal is in need, and you have concern that you want to show. Compassion can include: feeling in your heart for others; understanding and caring about the feelings of others; understanding what others need or want; and wanting to do something that might help.

View the 2019 winner’s video about her experience of writing about animals:


The following specifications are required without exception.

  • Written in English;
  • Original work;
  • 800-1000 words in length;
  • Typed in 12 point type size in Times New Roman or Arial;
  • 1.5 line spacing;
  • Numbered pages;
  • Story title at the top of the first page;
  • Author name at the top of each page;
  • Author should be no older than 14 years at the time of submission;
  • Story must be original and not previously published.

All guidelines must be met in order for the story to be considered.


Stories are due before midnight on July 3, 2021. The winning story will be announced after July 4, 2021. The winning author will be requested to provide an interview with PAHS. The stories will be published in the fall of 2021.

PAHS reserves the right to have the story reviewed by a professional editor and to retain distribution rights.