One group of students’ Friday afternoons got even better after some special visitors greeted them with tails wagging.
The Animal Network Inc. and Royal Pet Rescue joined together with Blanche H. Daughtrey Elementary School for an event to encourage students to be animal advocates.
Debra Starr, marketing and public relations for Animal Network, along with her special furry guests from Royal Pet Rescue, stood before the group of about 150 students Friday afternoon. It was the kickoff for the organization’s new campaign, “Kids Advocate for Animals.”
The conversation with students focused on themes like “adopt don’t shop,” and TV personality Bob Barker’s famous admonition: “Have your pets spayed or neutered.”
Third-grade students gathered in the school’s cafeteria for the event Friday afternoon. They were active participants in the discussion, enthusiastically answering questions from Starr about their own pets and interacting with the dogs.
“The idea is to get to these kids and encourage them to be advocates and go home to their families and say ‘hey are (our pets) spayed or neutered, we don’t want to contribute to this problem,” Starr said.
The problem Starr discussed with the students was how many animals are currently in foster care, shelters or without homes.
“Every single one of you can make a difference” Starr said. “You can change what is into what should be.”
Using charts, Starr showed students how quickly the number of animals can multiply if they’re not spayed or neutered.
One chart she had showed how in just one year a dog that is not spayed or neutered could reproduce and give birth to 16 puppies. In five years, if none of those dogs are spayed or neutered, they can reproduce and give birth to more than 12,000 dogs.
“It’s kind of a mixed message. Yes, they’re lovely and we want to love on them, but we also have to know it’s a responsibility,” Starr said.
Starr said Animal Network hopes to conduct similar presentations in other schools throughout all grade levels.
Two puppies — a mix of Pomeranian, Chihuahua and terrier — currently being fostered by Debbie Roth through Royal Pet Rescue joined Starr and a three-legged dog, Tripp, in addressing the students.
Third-grade teacher and Tripp’s owner, Brenden Craigmile, organized the event for the school with Starr, his mother. The response to the idea, he said, was overwhelming.
Animal advocacy and teaching are close to his heart, and this event brings the two together perfectly. His dog, Tripp, was a rescue.
“It’s been amazing for me to have a rescue animal and get to introduce Tripp to my students, and it really gets to show that you don’t need to go to a breeder to get dogs. You can get dogs in our community that need good homes and need hope and love,” Craigmile said.
They even discussed pet responsibility and who in the class has pets leading up to Friday’s event.
“They really got into the discussion, we had so many good questions out of our discussion today,” Craigmile said.
At the end of the event, students were sent home with stickers, vouchers for discounted shots for spayed or neutered pets they may already have in their home and, of course, smiles after a few minutes of playtime with puppies.
Interested in becoming a foster parent for pets in need? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.