WOODRUFF, S.C. (AP) — Kara West, a fifth-grader at Woodruff Elementary School, loves her family pets — a cat, two dogs, two birds and a hamster.

West, 11, recently joined classmates in the school's 4-H Pet Rescue Club to build wooden dog houses and stuff plastic cat shelters with straw with the help of the Hub City Animal Project.

"The shelters are so that animals can have warm places to live, because if people do, then animals deserve to, too," West said.

The welfare of outdoor pets during extreme weather has been a popular topic of discussion during the past several weeks in Spartanburg. Several residents have voiced concern to City Council, including one who started an online petition calling for firmer rules for pets kept outside in inclement weather. Council has formed a committee to make recommendations for improving parts of the city's animal ordinance.

To help people properly shelter their outdoor pets, Hub City Animal Project has worked with R.D. Anderson Applied Technology Center students and 4-H Pet Rescue Clubs at multiple Spartanburg County schools to cut and assemble dog houses and prepare cat shelters.

Hub City Animal Project was formed in early 2014 to inspire area animal welfare organizations to collaborate in order to help keep more pets with their owners and out of the shelter system.

"Our main focus with our partner agencies is to keep animals in the home and to decrease animal overpopulation," said Ingrid Norris, outreach director with the organization.

Hub City Animal Project works with the 4-H youth development division of the Clemson Cooperative Extension to sponsor pet rescue clubs at Woodruff, Mary H. Wright, Pauline-Glenn Springs and Beech Springs elementary schools.

"Every year we all do something to help animals, and this year we picked to do shelters," said 10-year-old Sadie Burnette, a fifth-grader at Woodruff Elementary.

Supplies for the service project were purchased by Hub City Animal Project and funded through the 4-H clubs' program fees.

After students at R.D. Anderson cut and pre-drilled the dog house pieces, students with the 4-H pet rescue clubs assembled them with screws and screwdrivers.

Jentzen Fortenberry, 11, a fifth-grader at Woodruff, said it was challenging putting the club's dog house together, but he had some prior experience with building other things.

"The dog house is for dogs that stay outside and when they get off their leash," he said. "Once we build it, we'll give it away and it'll go to a house."

The clubs are building five large dog houses, and R.D. Anderson is supplying materials for three more dog houses, Norris said. The clubs also are using straw to insulate 10 new community cat shelters.

Hub City Animal Project will paint the dog houses and deliver them along with the cat shelters to agency partners. The dog houses will be distributed to city and county residents identified by those partners.

The cat shelters will be given to caregivers of community cats. These caregivers regular feed roaming cats, given them shelter and trapping them so they can be spayed or neutered and released.

Norris said she had the idea for creating the shelters a few years ago.

"We thought it was a really good project for the clubs, and we're excited," she said. "There is a need, and people are seeing all these animals out there with inadequate shelter. We want to get the shelters out there before another cold snap hits."


Information from: Herald-Journal, http://www.goupstate.com/