Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Furry Friends Feature: Area Middle Schoolers Get Creative to Help Homeless Pets

Visitors to The Heritage Humane Society love seeing the big eyes and wagging tails of the shelter’s current residents, and now they are treated to colorful “why you should adopt me” essays and artwork thanks to a hands-on collaboration with Toano Middle School.

Thinking outside of the classroom

Nancy Lassiter Olson, a reading specialist at Toano Middle School, created the opportunity to connect her budding writers’ and artists’ talents with an outreach initiative that can make a difference in the very community they live. With the “why you should adopt me” assignment, students took on the opportunity to tell part of a homeless pet’s story using persuasive writing that would help that pet find their forever home.

On Feb. 11 and 13, Olson brought a total of 48 seventh- and eighth-graders from the school to the shelter to see how their writing and artistic skills to the test. For many of the students, this was their first fieldtrip in four years. The students toured the shelter, met pets they wrote about, and saw their helpful essays and artwork throughout the shelter. When each homeless pet is adopted, the essay and artwork is given to their new family as a keepsake from their “gotcha day” or adoption day.

Authentic connections

Connecting with an authentic, real world assignment created an engaging experience for the students. It evoked mindfulness, empathy, problem-solving, and self-motivation as students realized their work could make a huge difference in the futures of the shelter pets.

“Thank you to The Heritage Humane Society! We are so grateful to have had this opportunity for our students. To see the smiles on the faces of these students as they saw their persuasive letters displayed is priceless; something that just doesn’t happen in the classroom,” shares Nancy Lassiter Olson, Reading Specialist at Toano Middle School. “As for me, this is ‘the good stuff’ about teaching. This field trip brought a breath of fresh air back into my heart as a teacher. I am already planning the next one!”

Creative talents put to use for adoptable animals

Toano Middle School students provided write ups for Hank and Tonto and a portrait of Gemma, all who are up for adoption:

Hank the Tank. I go by Hank the Tank! I’ve been in this shelter for a long time. I’ve considered it my home. The people are always nice, and it’s nice here, but I wish my home was with you! I am three years old, but people still call me a puppy! I’m a terrier mix. Please consider adopting me. I would love a forever home.

• Tonto. Hey you, look my way, please! Hello, my name is Tonto and I’m 12 years old, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a long life ahead. Did you know that the oldest cat is 26 years old? We have plenty of time to spend together. I need someone to keep me warm and safe. Every time someone passes by me, I hope someone can just stop by me and look at me or get to know me.

• Gemma. Lovingly nicknamed “Gemma Bemma,” this lovely lady is an eight-year-old Pit Bull Terrier mix. She’s a looker with her beautiful coat of black and white fur. Gemma is as sweet as can be, quite smart, and not afraid to use her heart-melting superpowers on you. She already has everyone at The Heritage Humane Society wrapped around her toes. Gemma is at the wonderful phase in a dog’s life where she is young enough to play and is always up for a walk, but she also loves the leisurely life of chilling at home. She also enjoys the company of other dogs. This sweet girl had to sadly be surrendered six months ago because her owner became ill and could no longer care for her.

The Heritage Humane Society has more than 100 adoptable cats, dogs, and small pets hoping to find their forever families. Hank, Tonto, Gemma, and the other adoptable pets are available during The Heritage Humane Society’s visiting and adopting hours from 12 to 4:30 p.m., Tues. through Sun.

Animal Camp registration now open

The Heritage Humane Society enjoys helping children learn about responsible pet care and animal welfare. It just announced its summer Animal Camp series dates and registration is now open.

To learn more, visit, call 757-221-0150, or visit The Heritage Humane Society located at 430 Waller Mill Rd, Williamsburg, VA 23185.

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