Teens save lives, volunteer by fostering shelter pets
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — High school students can help save a pet’s life and get credit from their school at the same time.
Here’s how: Some kittens and puppies are too young for the county pet shelter. High school students age 14 and older can earn mandatory high school community service hours by fostering the county’s tiniest homeless pets until they are old enough for adoption.
“It helps the children, but it also helps the pets,” said Lisa Mendheim, spokeswoman for Broward County Animal Care and Adoption. “It’s a win-win all around. This program helps give these animals a chance at survival. And it teaches children responsibility in how to care for a pet.”
Students must meet the age requirement and have permission from their parents to enroll in the foster program. Most Broward high schools require 40 community service hours in order to graduate.
Teens who sign up will be given written instructions on how to care for the pet along with food and other supplies.
“We give them whatever they need to care for the pets,” Mendheim said. “They’d usually have the pet anywhere from four to eight weeks.”
And sometimes, the foster home turns into the forever home.
“Sometimes they do end up adopting the animal,” Mendheim said. “It does happen.”
That was the case for Tamarac teen Gabby Goetgeluck, who fostered two kittens last year when she was a senior at Taravella High School in Coral Springs.
Goetgeluck had every intention of returning Xena and Muffin to the shelter when they got big enough.
“They were only a few weeks old when we got them,” she said. “They were super tiny.”
But when it came time to take them to the shelter, Goetgeluck just couldn’t bring herself to say goodbye.
“After taking care of them for so many weeks, we just got attached,” Goetgeluck said. “I asked my mom if we could keep them.”
Students who foster an adult dog for two weeks can also earn 40 community service hours, but there’s a catch, Mendheim said. They have to find a home for the dog.
To sign up for the program, students can contact the shelter’s Foster Coordinator at Foster@broward.org.
Information from: Sun Sentinel , http://www.sun-sentinel.com/