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Shelter’s puppies help Anaheim kids learn lessons about pet care, responsibility

Store from the OC Register
BY JENNIFER BECKER / GUEST WRITER

A lively group of children from the Anaheim Family YMCA filled the activity room at Betsy Ross Elementary School and sat with eager anticipation for their chance to meet Biggie, a 1-year old Chiweenie mix, and Topanga, a 1-year old terrier mix, from Westminster Animal Group Services Pet Adoption in Westminster. The pair were visiting in advance of the America’s Family Pet Expo, where the pups will be available for adoption.

“Our kids were so thrilled to see the dogs, pet them and learn about how important it is to take care of pets,” said Zayra Martinez, program supervisor for the Anaheim Family YMCA. “We are so grateful when volunteers take the time to come to the Y and pay it forward with our kids. Today was also a good opportunity for our kids to learn more about responsibility because we teach and model that same value every day in our programs.”

Shelter coordinator Cortney Dorney brought in the rescued pair as “education ambassadors” to teach the kids about pet care and responsibility of owning a pet, which is one of the missions of WAGS and the America’s Family Pet Expo.

“Visits like these are necessary to reinforce the understanding of owning pet and a chance for kids to interact with animals who ordinarily don’t have an opportunity to do so,” Dorney said. “Interaction is the key to learning when it comes to making a connection with animals.”

Children were encouraged to talk about their own pet and ask questions about the animals at WAGS. Some asked: “Can dogs eat pizza?” “What if a dog eats a raisin?” “What happens if there is an earthquake and my dog is outside?”

They were then taught the basic do’s and don’ts for dogs, including how often to walk a pet and what not to feed as treats. After the Q-and-A, the children were invited to meet the dogs.

“No chocolate, onions or grapes,” Dorney said. “Veterinary care, a collar and microchip and grooming are necessary for a healthy pet.”

Celebrating its 25th year of promoting responsible pet care and ownership, the America’s Family Pet Expo features animal entertainment, pet education, interactive features and hundreds of animals available for adoption, including Topanga and Biggie from WAGS.

– Jennifer Becker is a communications consultant in Orange County
– Full story available here 



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