Lend a Paw: Club returns with new efforts

     The Paws club was re-established over summer break by students Rylee Kirkey, Alexis Burch, and Jade Berry. Paws is a club that helps animals in need and animals shelters that may need assistance, allowing animals to have a better chance at life.

     “We are focused on helping out dogs and other shelter animals,” senior and co-founder Jade Berry said, “[and working] to help them because a lot of shelters have really high kill rates, and we want to lower that.”

     The club focuses on working with animals and helping out with any needs that local animal shelters or organizations might have.

     “We’re hoping to volunteer at some animal shelters,” Berry said. “We recently started talking to this organization that got some new puppies and would like our help getting started.”

     The Paws club has been in contact with a local organization called Freedom Canines International (FCI) that takes in dogs and trains them to be service dogs for people with disabilities.

     “We chose to help this group because service dogs have such an important role in the life of the handicapped,” co-founder Rylee Kirkey said. “Being a new organization, they need help with their website, fostering the dogs, promotional videos, and even donations from the community and anyone who’s willing to help.”

To join Paws club, students don’t have to meet any requirements except for showing up to the meetings, volunteering at animal shelters, and lending a paw to the cause.

     “We meet every other Tuesday of each month from 8:20-8:50 in the morning,” Berry said. “We just talk about what the general plan for the week is, what the members would like to do next, and find dates for everyone to meet after school to do activities.”

     Being a part of Paws is a way to become more emotionally connected to animals and create a better human and animal bond.

     “It means a lot to help out animals that really need it,” senior and co-founder Alexis Burch said. “I have dogs myself, and they mean the world to me.”

     So far, Paws has a small amount of members in the club; however, they are working to get the community more involved in order to create a bigger impact.

     “We are trying to outreach to the community and get people involved,” Berry said, “and come to like a puppy shower, do fundraisers for the animal shelters, and just to help out and do whatever we can.”

     This club helps focus on keeping animals alive as well as making the animals feel loved and give them attention.

     “Paws isn’t actually an acronym,” Berry said, “but it stands for supporting animals and focusing on helping the community around us.”

     Throughout the month of December and into January there will be a fundraising donation drive to raise money, supplies, and awareness for the latest addition of the Freedom Canines International (FCI) organization. The FCI is a nonprofit group that raises and trains new puppies to be diabetic service dogs for people in need.

     Just recently, one of the dogs in the program gave birth to a new litter of puppies, and the FCI is trying to raise enough money to pay for the training, vet care, as well as food and equipment for all of the new puppies. In order to generate this revenue, the FCI is working with the Paws club and will be having a donation drive through the school where students can come in and donate toys and supplies for the puppies in exchange for volunteer hours. As a reward and thank you for the donations, the FCI will allow the class of students that donated the most supplies to name one of the puppies, within certain parameters.

     After the month of December, the Paws club hopes to present the donated supplies to the FCI in a puppy shower which they will be hosting in January. This will be an event where all students can come and meet and play with the puppies, as well as get to know more about the organization and what they can do to help. Currently there has not been a decided location or date for the puppy shower, but it will be announced as January approaches.

     The organization is fairly new and is still trying to establish roots in the community, so the FCI is reaching out and working with FFA chapters to benefit both the program and the students.

     FFA students will have the opportunity to raise some of the puppies and serve as a

foster parent. This opportunity will be a unique learning experience as well as service opportunity for all of the students.

     The fostering students will be working closely with some of the FCI instructors that will help them teach the puppies social skills and manners, and the puppies will even get to attend classes with their students.

     After the puppies have been raised and are mature they will enter advanced training where they will learn important skills that are essential for Diabetic alert dogs like smelling drops in blood sugar and alerting their partner before it becomes dangerous. The mature dogs can also give back to the school by serving as therapy dogs when it’s needed.

Written by Evelyn Peterson & Jade Berry, News Editor

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