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How handwritten pleas by school kids helped unwanted shelter dogs find forever homes

How handwritten pleas by school kids helped unwanted shelter dogs find forever homes
Source: WashingtonPost

Many of the animals at a Richmond, Virginia shelter who were having a difficult time finding a forever home due to age, personality, health or lack of training, have since been adopted thanks to heart-rending appeals handwritten by local 8-year-olds being pinned to their cages.

The notes help Dogs who have a harder time finding a forever home

Washington Post’s Sydney Page visited Richmond Animal Care and Control’s shelter last month and saw drawings and letters penned by 8-year-olds attached to several kennels of dogs who were considered less desirable to adopt. Dogs with imperfections and health issues have a harder time finding a forever home. The notes were written from the perspective of the animals, directed to their prospective adopters. Every dog had a little story posted outside their door.

There are currently about 170 animals in the shelter, and, on average, most pets get adopted within three weeks. The majority of animals stay at the shelter until they find forever homes, though the shelter will euthanise severely sick animals who the staff deems cannot be rehabilitated or adopted.

The the letters are part of a class project to help hard-to-place animals get adopted, coordinated by Kensey Jones, a second-grade teacher at St. Michael’s Episcopal School in Richmond. Continued below…

Source: WashingtonPost 

(St. Michael’s Episcopal School and Richmond Animal Care and Control)
A shelter dog named I’m All Ears poses with his letters. He was successfully adopted. (St. Michael’s Episcopal School and Richmond Animal Care and Control) Source: WashingtonPost
As part of a class project, the students wrote persuasive letters to help get animals at Richmond Animal Care and Control adopted. (Richmond Animal Care and Control)
Second-grade students at St. Michael’s Episcopal School in Richmond play with a shelter dog named Snow. As part of a class project, the students wrote persuasive letters to help get animals at Richmond Animal Care and Control adopted. (Richmond Animal Care and Control) Source: WashingtonPost

21 of the 24 animals written about have been adopted since the beginning of February

Kensey Jones has been a volunteer at the shelter for the past four years and has three rescue dogs of her own.

“The idea just came to me to connect persuasive writing with these adoptable pets that need a forever home,” she told WashingtonPost, explaining that she thought it would be “a way that I could make their writing real for [the students], and actually make an impact on the world and our Richmond community, specifically.”

She pitched the concept to Christie Peters, the director of the shelter, whose son is in Jones’s second-grade class.

“Yes, let’s do it!” Peters remembered telling Jones, adding that she thought the idea was “so wonderful.”

Jones visited the shelter website and selected 24 animals — 23 dogs and one cat — all of whom had a difficult time finding a forever home because of age, personality, health or lack of training. Many of the animals she picked had been in the shelter for several months, and Jones believed her students’ work might help them get adopted.

As a class, students read through each animal’s brief description provided by the shelter, and Jones printed photos of every one. When the students were told about their new assignment, there were “audible cheers in the classroom,” Jones said. “As the project unfolded, they just continued to get more and more excited about it.”

Before they started the researching and writing process in late January, Peters brought a rescue dog to visit students at the school.

“We talked about the work we do at the shelter, and how their stories would help save animals’ lives,” Peters said.

The students, Jones said, reacted with “pure joy and excitement.” They took the project very seriously and wrote carefully crafted letters that used descriptive words they learned in class to persuade potential adopters.

“We were pretty impressed by what they came up with,” Jones said. One letter that stood out, she said, was one about a dog named Sunday Special.

“I would love to be adopted. If you do adopt me, I hope I will brighten up your Sundays like the sun,” the student wrote. “You’ll be my Sunday Special, and I hope I’ll be yours!”

“It just tore at my heartstrings,” Jones said.

To her delight, others had the same reaction, and the class project served its purpose: 21 of the 24 animals who were written about have been adopted since the beginning of February, including Sunday Special.

Source: WashingtonPost 

(St. Michael's Episcopal School and Richmond Animal Care and Control)
A letter a second-grade student wrote about a rescue dog named Sunday Special. (St. Michael’s Episcopal School and Richmond Animal Care and Control) Source: WashingtonPost
(Richmond Animal Care and Control/Courtesy of St. Michael’s Episcopal School and RACC)
Christie Peters, director of Richmond Animal Care and Control, posts letters written by second-grade students on several kennels in the shelter. (Richmond Animal Care and Control/Courtesy of St. Michael’s Episcopal School and RACC) Source: WashingtonPost

the project played a significant role in the animals finding forever homes

Peters said she is confident the project played a significant role in the animals finding forever homes. “It definitely brought exposure to the pets that had the greatest need in our shelter and showcased them in a really different and beautiful light,” Peters said, adding that young animals generally get adopted from the shelter quickly, while older pets with health issues are often overlooked. Older dogs eventually do get adopted, she said, though the process tends to take more time.

That’s where the letters came in.

“It just sparked something within the community to adopt a pet that’s been in our care longer than others,” she said.

The students — who were able to see their letters hanging in the shelter in photos and videos — said they are overjoyed every time an animal is adopted. And also proud.

“All dogs deserve a loving home,” said St. Michael’s second-grader Danielle Petroski. “I am so very happy to be able to help neglected animals find great forever families.”

Jones makes a class announcement every time an adoption is finalised, and the students squeal with glee.

“I think they are kind of in disbelief that they did this,” Jones said.

Source: WashingtonPost 

Marie said she often thinks about the second-grader who wrote the letters for Bonnie. “It gives me goose bumps thinking about the kid that wrote that, thinking they did it, they got that dog a home,” Marie told WashingtonPost. (Richmond Animal Care and Control)
Cody and Marie Lucas after they adopted a 5-year-old American Staffordshire terrier from Richmond Animal Care and Control. Marie said she often thinks about the second-grader who wrote the letters for Bonnie. “It gives me goose bumps thinking about the kid that wrote that, thinking they did it, they got that dog a home,” Marie told WashingtonPost. (Richmond Animal Care and Control) Source: WashingtonPost
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Richmond Animal Care & Control Foundation (RACCF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit created to improve the quality of life of pets under the care of Richmond Animal Care & Control. Your generous contribution directly makes a difference in the life of homeless pets in need of medical care in the City of Richmond. Your donation is tax-deductible, and you will receive a receipt for your contribution. The Combined Virginia Campaign (CVC) code for the RACCF is 200202.