CHICAGO (CBS) — Dogs are said to be “man’s best friend,” but a 12-year-old Wilmette girl is trying to be a best friend to shelter dogs.

Since she was in the third grade, Kam Gottlieb has been raising money to buy treadmills for animal shelters through a group she founded and runs, Kinetic K-9s. She’s not raising money for a shelter down the block, but usually smaller shelters not likely to be able to afford the $500 machines, although Chicago’s Anti-Cruelty Society is one recipient.

It was so impressed with Kam’s fund-raising ability that it created a “Pals for Pets” program for children who want to make an ongoing commitment to helping shelter animals, and made her its charter member.

Other shelters aided to date by Kinetic K-9s are in California, Florida and Michigan, and Kam told WBBM she has enough money raised to place three more. She said shelter dogs who can use treadmills are “more adoptable because they’ll be in better shape, healthier and less aggressive with the treadmills.”

Kam said she has found that children are by far the most imaginative fund-raisers — more so than than many of the adults she’s met.

She has raised money through the sale of special glow-in-the-dark bracelets, through car washes, through lemonade stands, through movie nights and even a Tiki party for her friends.

She hopes to host a chalk-drawing event at Wilmette Junior High School, to which admission will be charged.

Another upcoming fundraiser will let the winner choose the state that gets the next treadmill. Kinetic K-9s even has its own website, complete with a donation page.

Kam intends to keep raising money at least until she has placed one treadmill in every state. Once she gets there?

“I don’t really know,” she said with a laugh. “I haven’t really thought about that but I’ll probably just place more and more treadmills. I don’t think there will ever be an end to this.”

Kam said she hopes to become a special education teacher when she grows up. Her mother Susan, a former teacher, runs a pet grooming service.

“She’s awesome,” her mother said. “I’m a big animal lover, so I’m extremely excited and glad that she is pursuing this. I think it’s a great cause.”

The most amazing part of her fund-raising effort may be what she does not have — a dog. But there’s a good reason. Both Kam and her father are highly allergic to dogs and cats, although they take medication to try to control it.

Kam’s advice to other children who have such lofty goals?

“Stay with your heart and what it’s saying,” she said. “The idea is different from actually wanting to do it. You have to really, really want to make a difference.”

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