Sometimes having a fur coat is not enough – other times, it is way too much.
Not having a pet doesn’t mean you don’t want to help them, at least that’s the case with five sophomores in Diane Tomko’s class at Flagler Palm Coast High School.
The five girls, Janine Jao, Nicole Perilli, Rida Muneer, Mia Scarecella, and Kayla Colandrea, chose animal welfare as their Community Problem Solving Project, even though two don’t have pets, and one is allergic to cats.
"Because best friends need best care." Pause4Paws motto.
“We were brainstorming projects and this is the one we were passionate about,” Rida said.
The project focuses on the dangers of pet exposure to extreme temperatures, with a goal of increasing community awareness at all age levels.
“Learning about how many animals this affects… it tore at our heartstrings,” Mia said.
Not all of their work is done in the classroom, or even during school hours.
“We’ve been going to elementary schools,” Nicole said. “Last week were went to Bunnell and talked to seven classes of fifth and sixth graders. We used Mia’s dog, Stella.”
No harm came to Stella. The girls talked about what could happen if the dog was locked inside a car where the temperature could rise to 120 degrees in a short time on a hot day, and what would happen if she was left out on a cold night. Having a dog as part of the team, helped the students to give a face to their mission.
The team has been at First Friday in Flagler Beach and Flagler Focus, a school district event where they had a banner for people to sign, pledging their support of the project.
The banner, which currently bears about 200 signatures, will be carried in the Palm Coast Starlight Holiday Parade on Saturday, Dec. 12.
“We want to make everyone aware, not just one group of people,” Kayla said. “I didn’t know half of what I know now about how to take care of your animals in the heat and cold.”
Students involved in this class have to be self-motivated and make their own deadlines.
“Two hours is not a lot of time for what we want to do, so we put in a lot of time after school and on weekends,” Mia said. “It’s how far you want to take your project.”
This team wants to make theirs a multi-year project. They are nearing the end of their semester in Tomko’s class but plan on continuing on their own and returning next year, as a team, to carry on.
They will also be working toward the state competition in March 2016 in Orlando. Each team that competes at the state level is required to make a scrap book of sorts that documents their process and their successes.
Success is one thing Pause4Paws has enjoyed, with support from local veterinarians who have allowed them to place their information brochures in their waiting rooms, to being published in Bark, a national dog magazine.
The group has been partnering with Flagler Humane Society and hopes to be able to make changes in the future on a state level, specifically, getting legislation passed that makes it illegal to leave dogs unattended in cars.
“They can’t help themselves, you are the only one who can help them,” Kayla said. “They aren’t the ones locking themselves in the car.”