Schurz HS students conduct service project at pet facility
by BRIAN NADIG
About 20 Schurz High School students spent time in December at the Chicago Animal Care and Control facility, 2741 S. Western Ave., reading to the dogs and feeding them peanut butter as part of a community service project.
Student Lola Marchese said that the project was a valuable learning experience and that students hope to continue the mission by visiting other schools and collecting food and other donations for the animals at the facility on Western.
Students learned that a perceived act of kindness may be taken the wrong way by the dogs, especially given the dogs are being kept in cages and may feel anxious or threatened by all of the visitors, Marchese said.
"We learned the right way to interact with a dog," she said.
The students read children’s books to the dogs and placed peanut butter on Frisbees, which workers then attached to the cages, as part of "Frisbee Friday." They also met with CACC executive director Kelley Gandurski.
"(The students) actually could see some of the dogs get calmer as they read to them … gaining their trust," said Barriers Against Repeated Cruelty founder Tina Wallace, who worked with Marchese to coordinate the day trip. Schurz environmental science teacher Mitch Arsenie also accompanied the students.
At least one of the students indicated that they may return with their parents to look at the possibility of adopting a dog, and Marchese, who is president of BARC’s Junior Board, did not rule out additional school trips to the animal care facility given the high level of compassion for dogs among students.
"A lot of students have dogs," she said.
While at the facility, students saw the different ways that dogs respond and behave. "Dogs are individuals. They are no different than us," Wallace said. "Just like us, each dog has an individual personality."
BARC is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2009 and provides emergency funding and other urgent resources for animals in immediate need. BARC has made donations to veterinary hospitals and training and boarding facilities.
Students interested in volunteering for BARC can contact the organization by send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.