Tavares High students volunteer to walk dogs waiting at shelter for adoption
Two years ago, when the Lake County Sheriff’s Office took command of Animal Services, the team made a commitment not to euthanize adoptable pets. As a result, dogs stay at the facility longer while they wait for families to adopt them. In the meantime, Animal Services tries to get them out of their kennels as much as possible to reduce their stress and keep them healthy.
Students from Tavares High School FFA have volunteered to help by walking the dogs. They did their first walk on Oct. 13. The farm where students work on agricultural projects is in close proximity to the shelter, and the cause is important to them.
“We want to partner with Lake County Animal Services because we need to get exposure for the dogs, cats and livestock animals needing homes,’’ said Jessica Holland, agriscience instructor and FFA advisor at Tavares High School. “Our FFA members will learn about compassion and hard work, and will hopefully become more responsible pet owners for the future. The kids will also get a glimpse into what it takes to run an animal facility.”
The idea grew from a similar project in Santa Barbara, Calif., where a shelter partnered with a high school cross country team and the dogs joined the athletes for their daily runs.
Lake County Animal Services has about 80 dogs available for adoption, and about a quarter of them have been waiting for a home 50 days or more.
“It’s a win-win situation,” Holland said. “Our students give back to the community and the animals there get a break from the kennel environment.”