Pet Responsibility: Acting on the Message
BY ANGELA ZUMWALT
Special to The Pilot
Kelci Auch, Anna Gallant and William Herbert, fifth-graders at Sandhills Farmlife Elementary School, filed into Daphne Smith's office and took a seat.
Smith, their school's guidance counselor, had sponsored the Pet Responsibility Program at the school for two years.
The three fifth-graders had attended the six session program as fourth-graders and were in Smith's office to talk with a member of the Pet Responsibility Committee, presenters of the program, about their experience with the program.
"What did you like best about the Pet Responsibility Program last year?" asked a committee member.
"Just the fact that we have the program at all," Anna Gallant responded.
The others were quick to agree, adding that they enjoyed learning about the pets in their lives and how to better care for them.
Next was a key question as far as the creators of the program were concerned: What was the most important message the three students remembered from the program?
Their response was music to the ears of the committee member.
"It's important to spay or neuter your pets so that you can help prevent overpopulation and euthanasia," they said.
Had they shared what they had learned during the program with others in their families? All three described with excitement how they had gone home and talked about what they had learned. Their enthusiasm about the program and its content lead to discussions at home about what they could do to help the homeless dogs and cats in Moore County.
Their families contacted Moore Humane Society in Carthage, which welcomed the students and their parents to volunteer at the shelter.
The three students described with passion how they volunteer on the weekends and sometimes on a weekday after school.
They walk the dogs with their parents on a trail near the shelter and interact with the cats, "socializing them so that they are easier to adopt out," they added.
They admitted that they are both sad and happy to go to the shelter and find that one of the pets they had been working with is no longer there. They are sad as they have grown attached to specific animals but happy as they know the pet now has a forever home.
They talked fondly about Cherry, a pit bull.
"You can see her on the website at moorehumane.org," they informed the Pet Responsibility Committee member. "She's called Cherry because she has a cherry eye - she is so sweet."
The website reveals that Cherry was rescued from a suspected dog fighting operation in southeast Ohio. Although healed, her painful past is evident in old bite wounds on her front legs and face. Cherry is still waiting to be adopted.
The three fifth-graders talked excitedly about their volunteer work and how they had been inspired to help by the Pet Responsibility Program.
"It's a wonderful program for fourth-graders," they agreed.
The committee member thanked the three students on behalf of the homeless pets of Moore County, adding, "We can all make a difference."
To volunteer to teach the Pet Responsibility Program to the fourth-graders of Moore County, call (910) 949-9953. Training will take place in July for the new school year.
Information on volunteering with Moore Humane Society can be found at moorehumane.org.
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