By Staff Reports
(Apple Valley) -–There are many ways to approach solving the problem of animal shelter overcrowding. For the Town of Apple Valley’s Animal Services Department, the tactic is clear – teach the message to the young.
This is one reason why the Town’s shelter will host approximately 50 Girl Scouts from the High Desert at an overnight educational program on Friday October 22.
“Raising awareness about our shelter and promoting responsible pet ownership is what keeps pets and families united,” explained Animal Services Manager Gina Schwin-Whiteside. “A Night at the Shelter teaches these values to children in a fun and interesting way, and we so pleased the Girl Scouts are helping us launch this program.”
This inaugural event is the first of what the Town hopes will be many overnighters available to school and church groups, youth organizations, other Girl Scout troops, Boy Scout packs and other groups interested in animal-related learning opportunities. If successful, the program can be marketed nation-wide.
“When I heard the Town wanted to begin this program I knew my Girl Scouts would love to be involved,” said Charlene Engeron, leader of High Desert Troop 317 who also happens to be a Town employee. “I mentioned it to some other troop leaders and the response was overwhelming!”
In light of the huge numbers of scouts attending, the shelter staff worked with Engeron to create an itinerary and workbook that, when completed, will earn each girl a “Try-it” or “Badge” or “Interest Project Award” depending on their age level, not just a fun patch.
“Earning a Try-it, Badge or I.P. Award is vastly different than a fun patch,” explained Jewel Wilmoth, Community Director of High Desert office of the Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio Council. “Girls can get a patch for anything they participate in, but they have to earn their badges by completing three to seven activities and service projects. The fact that they will earn a badge for this is a big deal.”
To earn their awards, the girls will learn about pet first aid from the American Red Cross, take a tour of the shelter, interact with some of the animals, learn what types of animals make good pets for certain households, study the nutritional content of a variety of pet foods, learn about pet related laws and much more.
“These girls are our future. Teaching them positive messages about pet responsibility is vital to creating a better future for our community’s pet population,” said Schwin-Whiteside.
The Town’s Animal Services Shelter is located at 22131 Powhatan Road. Visit www.AppleValley.org or call (760) 240-7000 X 7555 for more information on creating a specialized program for a group.