Wheeling Park High School Students Get a Case of Puppy Love From Helping Ohio County Animal Shelter

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Photo by Scott McCloskey Victoria Parks and Gabby Myers pose with “Jozee.”

WHEELING — The recently formed Paws 4 A Cause Club at Wheeling Park High School is for animal-loving students who want to make a difference for pets waiting to be adopted at local shelters.

Club organizer and longtime Wheeling Park teacher Dee Davis has outlined several points which are a part of the club’s mission. In addition to raising funds and pet supplies for local animal shelters, club members are learning about the signs of animal health and behavior and about the prevention of animal abuse.

Davis said the club was first offered as an extra-curricular activity at the high school this past fall after two students inquired about starting such an organization. It is similar to other programs around the country that assist rescue animals and shelters.

Other tasks and activities outlined for the Wheeling Park group include volunteering at local animal shelters, assisting with dog and cat adoption clinics, helping to make the new Wheeling dog park a clean and safe place, organizing a local dog walk/parade, and working to bring Drool at the Pool to Wheeling Park. Drool at the Pool is an annual event already held at Oglebay Park’s outdoor pool where visitors can bring their dog to the pool for the day. It has been traditionally held on the last day of the pool season.

Davis said the club immediately filled up with interested pet-loving students who want to make a difference in helping rescue animals. She said they had their first successful pet food drive in November and they are currently involved with helping Ohio and Marshall County animal shelters and the Pet Safe League for Greyhounds.

Davis said the club is also trying out a new pet “meet and greet” activity, where pet-friendly dogs are brought to a school activity room and allowed to interact with participating students and other dogs.

Davis said this activity not only provides students a chance to relieve stress and anxiety by interacting with dogs. but is beneficial for the dogs. She said they will only bring dogs to the meet and greet that can be trusted in an extremely social setting.

“It’s rewarding because you get to see the smiles and the ‘thank yous’ for being here,” Davis explained.

Wheeling Park students Victoria Parks and Gabby Myers said they both decided to get involved with the club because of their love for pets and desire to assist animal rescue shelters and programs.

“It’s really a great project,” said Parks. “We take shelter dogs and we build beds for them. Some of the dogs at shelters don’t have have a bed to sleep on, they just sleep on the cold floor — so we provide a bed for them,” she commented.

Myers also said it is very rewarding to be a club member.

“I’ve always loved animals and have always thought how compassionate they are and I really wanted to fix the problem within shelters. We wanted to provide a place for the dogs to go — where they are cared for and loved — because shelters don’t always have that,” Myers explained.

In addition to raising funds and pet supplies for area shelters, the students also make homemade dog treats at the school’s cafe. Collars, leashes, harnesses, pet toys, litter boxes, blankets, bleach, laundry detergent and paper towels are just some of the supplies they provide to area shelters. Davis said they also plan to invite the dog warden, local veterinarians and pet store representatives and Upper Ohio Valley Obedience Training Club members as guest speakers. In addition, she said DiCarlo’s Pizza of Wheeling, has been a terrific sponsor of the club from the beginning.

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