Fourth-Graders Embrace Message of Pet Responsibility
On a Saturday morning back in February, C.J., his sister, Raehlyn, and his father, Carl Jamason, appeared at The Animal Center, the county animal shelter on U.S. 15-501 in Carthage.
“We’re looking to adopt a dog. A black dog. An older dog.”
“The words could not have been sweeter,” says an animal shelter spokesman.
Raehlyn, now a fifth-grader, had attended the very first Pet Responsibility Program in the county at Vass-Lakeview Elementary School back in 2008. C.J. was now in the fourth grade and currently going through the program. They had definitely been listening. They knew how hard it is to place black dogs and cats and older animals. They knew why the shelter was constantly full and the importance of spaying and neutering. They had come to make a difference.
A medium-sized, long-haired, black dog with soulful brown eyes sat in a pen unaware that his life was to change. By the end of their visit, C.J. had already named him Spike. Spike was going to have a new home. He would need to stay at the shelter for a few days to be neutered and then they could pick him up. C.J. and Raehlyn knew the importance of that procedure.
The following week, while waiting, C.J. shared his good news with his classmates during the Pet Responsibility class being presented by volunteer Rachel Trahern. He was excited and so proud, unaware that bad news was on the horizon.
In the process of preparing Spike to go to the Spay Neuter Clinic of the Sandhills on U.S. 1, it was discovered that he had heartworms. Wherever he had been before, nobody had taken the responsibility to give him heartworm preventive medication. Heartworms are easy to prevent, but difficult and costly to cure.
The news was devastating. C.J. and his family were offered the chance to come and choose another dog, but C.J. was committed — Spike was the dog for him. The Animal Center personnel took Spike to the veterinarian, who determined that Spike was treatable. With much celebration, a neutered Spike went home with C.J., who was armed with daily medication and instructions on how to treat Spike’s heartworms.
The uplifting tale of C.J. and Spike quickly circulated among the volunteer teachers of the Pet Responsibility Program and served as a great inspiration to them as they completed presenting the program to a total of 10 schools and around 800 fourth-graders.
All 10 schools invited the Pet Responsibility Committee (PRC) back into the fourth-grade classroom for the 2010-2011 school year. The remaining three schools are on board to join them.
The PRC designed this program to integrate with Moore County Schools’ Character Education program, focusing on good judgment, integrity, kindness, perseverance, respect and responsibility and to link to the N.C. Standard Course of Study.
The program consists of five modules focused on making the students aware of their responsibilities toward the animals who share our lives, while also having fun with the topics. For emphasis, guest speakers and their animals are included in the program. A final assembly celebrates all they have learned.
Volunteers are the mainstay of the program. Love of animals and a desire to share that passion in a constructive and fun way with the next generation are the only qualifications required. A two-part training session will be held toward the end of July. Attendees will receive lesson plans and teaching aids that help them reinforce the message.
In a phone call with C.J. recently, he was proud of the care he was taking of Spike.
“I give him his heartworm pill (preventive) every month and I feed him his Science Diet,” he says.
His grandmother, Fannie Rogers, laughed as she recounted her annoyance at C.J. and Raehlyn for spending so much time playing with Spike outside “in their good clothes.”
“They really do care for him a lot,” she says.
“C.J. and Spike and their family serve as an inspiration to the volunteers of the Pet Responsibility Committee in their work with fourth-graders,” says a committee member.
For more information on the committee and its work or to sign up as a volunteer, call (910) 949-9953.
Angela Zumwalt is co-chair of the Citizens’ Pet Responsibility Committee.
More like this story