Adopting an animal from a shelter is universally seen as a positive deed one can do for their community, but it doesn’t come without its own problems. Younger animals are swept in and out of shelters. A bright-eyed puppy or kitten obviously has its appeal—to have a sweet little creature who you can make your own mark on is an exciting prospect—but as these younger animals come and go, older animals stay.
It’s a problem all shelters face, and it was one that Kensey Jones, a second-grade teacher and volunteer at Richmond Animal Care and Control wanted to change. In working with these sweet animals that needed a home, Jones found herself wondering how she could boost adoption rates.
Then it hit her: who can resist the sweet pleas of an eight-year-old?
Some of the animals at Richmond Animal Care and Control. Credit: Southern Living
“The idea just came to me to connect persuasive writing with these adoptable pets that need a forever home,” Jones says. She adds that it was “a way that I could make their writing real for [the students], and actually make an impact on the world and our Richmond community.”
To help hammer home the importance of the work, Peters brought in a rescue dog to visit the students. “We talked about the work we do at the shelter, and how their stories would help save animals’ lives,” Peters says.
While most children don’t usually look forward to more assignments, this second-grade class responded with “pure joy and excitement.” They each drew pictures and wrote carefully crafted letters with the descriptive words they learned in an effort to persuade potential adopters.
“If you do adopt me, I hope I will brighten up your Sundays like the sun. You’ll be my Sunday Special, and I hope I’ll be yours!” one student wrote about a dog named Sunday Special.
“I am cute and short haired. I can cuddle and bark. Please adopt me,” another student wrote about a 5-year-old American Staffordshire terrier named Duquesa.
Students preparing their letters. Credit: NPR
Learn more about Kensey Jones’s class!
This message in particular caught the eye of Cody and Marie Lucas shortly after the letters were hung up outside the kennels. Upon taking a closer look at the sweet brown dogs, Marie says there was no way she could not love her. That day, Duquesa (now named Bonnie) found her home.
Success stories extend past Bonnie. As of the end of March, 21 of the 24 animals have been adopted. The Lucas family and Peters alike attribute the success of the adoptions to the sweet letters written by these second graders.
Jones makes a class announcement every time an adoption is finalized, instilling these students with pride and glee. One student clearly illuminates just how it feels to be a part of something so special:
“All dogs deserve a loving home,” she says. “I am so very happy to be able to help neglected animals find great forever families.”
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