Last year, a new after school program called Junior FOTAS was started by students at Tall Pines STEM Academy. Two teachers assist the students, including their language arts teacher, Mrs. Busby, who is passionate about helping shelter pets and a FOTAS volunteer, and their math teacher, Mrs. Mastromonico, who’s adopted pets from the shelter and is a strong animal advocate. Her son even raised over $400 for FOTAS’s Have a Heart Save a Heart program, a fund that provides heartworm treatment for shelter dogs.
Every other week, the group meets after school along with myself and FOTAS Volunteer Marnie Munger. During each meeting, we introduce the students to a new shelter pet and teach them the importance of spaying and neutering and about the Trap, Neuter Release (TNR) program, heartworm prevention and other key FOTAS and ACAS initiatives.
The students surprised all of us! They made videos about FOTAS programs such as Doggie Days Out, Fix-a-Pet and Community Outreach. They held a car wash that raised money for heartworm treatment and marched in the Aiken Memorial Day Parade in t-shirts that they designed, singing a cheer about spaying and neutering.
And at last year’s Annual Woofstock Doggy Derby Day, members of the group sold snow cones to raise money for shelter pets. These kids are incredible!
This year, during the first meeting I was blown away when more than 40 students joined the group! These young people are enthusiastic and ready to get to work. Members of the group took the initiative to sell raffle tickets for a FOTAS fundraiser at Aiken’s Makin’. They sold $100 in tickets and took in over $400 in monetary donations to help the shelter pets.
Most recently, Junior FOTAS visited the animals at 333 Wire Road and enjoyed a tour by Shelter Manager Bobby Arthurs. Bobby showed them the entire facility and taught them the history of the ACAS. The students were really interested in the process of how animals arrive at the shelter and how they are adopted. They all took turns hugging and loving the shelter’s longest canine resident, Rosetta, and brainstormed on how they can help dogs like her find homes faster. One idea was to make flyers, while another was to take pictures and selfies with her and share them on social media. Who wouldn’t want to adopt a dog that is so awesome with kids, right?
To see their eyes when they hugged a homeless dog was beautiful and Rosetta was in heaven! What a perfect world it would be if everyone was so eager to love!
FOTAS is thrilled to see young people take an interest in helping the shelter animals. We have all heard that “children are our future,” and if these students are this driven at their young ages of 11-14, our future is looking pretty bright!
Please keep an eye on these upcoming leaders in animal advocacy and contact us at (803) 514-4313 or email@example.com if you’d like to start a Junior FOTAS group at your learning institution.
Their lives are in our hands.
— By Kathy Jacobs, FOTAS Program Director