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When is it OK to Bring a Dog to School?

For information contact:
Leslie Goldstein

When is it okay to bring a dog to school?

On Thursday, April 5, Mickey, a stray dog looking for a good home, entered a classroom at Wayne Thomas Elementary. The good news is that he had an escort, and his visit had been cleared by the teacher, principal and nurse!

It all started as a project for Mrs. Elizabeth Hunt’s second grade GTE class at Wayne Thomas Elementary. Mrs. Hunt asked her students to think of something they were good at doing. Then they were to find a project in the community where they could volunteer to share this talent. One of the students loves taking care of dogs. She explored her options: in some shelters, you are required to be eighteen to volunteer.

Then she discovered Tails of Hope, a no-kill, non-profit animal rescue and adoption service in Highland Park. Their mission is to help the terminally, chronically and elderly find new homes for their beloved pets. They also take in puppies and assorted ages of animals from kill shelters, so there is a wide selection to choose from, many of which are house broken and include mutts and pure breeds.

The student visited the shelter where she was greeted by the founder Kelly Moyer and Director Caren Miller, along with a few of the 70 dogs and 18 cats who live there. All of these pets are waiting to be adopted. She was challenged to choose a name for an incoming stray dog, a Brussels Griffon mix, who had been picked up from the side of the freeway earlier that day—the name Madeline stuck! She couldn’t let go of Kate Spade, an adorable black Chihuahua!

She toured the facility, noting that it is designed to be a warm and inviting place, including a visiting room that looks like a family room where people can spend time getting to know a dog in an intimate setting. All of the carpeting has been removed so as to prevent dogs from picking up any scents from previous occupants.

She was so moved that she asked Caren if she would come to Wayne Thomas and share the mission of Tails of Hope with her class. The student obtained permission, and the visit was scheduled.

The students were delighted that Mickey, a terrier mix, could join Caren. Caren shared information about Tails of Hope with Mrs. Hunt’s class of eager students. She talked about how the shelter is committed to finding “forever homes” for the dogs and cats which combine the right home, the right dog and the right family, by using the right criteria.

Some dogs at the shelter include Keller, a deaf Pit Bull, who is being taught to respond to hand signals, and Lola, a blind Havanese. A happy story is of Daria, an 8 year old stray, who was just adopted by a lonely woman in her 70’s looking for a companion. Daria is now her “new best friend” and sleeps on her bed!

The volunteers at Tails of Hope take dogs to senior centers and places where other languages are spoken—dogs break all of the language barriers! They run a Kid Care Program and have Mitzvah Project Opportunities. They receive about 100 emails/day asking them to take dogs from other shelters. They hate to turn anyone away, but only have limited space.

Mrs. Hunt’s class plans to spread the word and be their voice. They brainstormed many ideas for outreach in the community. One of these ideas include launching a collection drive at Wayne Thomas using posters and photos in hopes of collecting badly needed items such as towels and blankets, bed sheets, dog toys, leashes, dog treats and much more.

This is certainly a stimulating project that has snowballed into a terrific community builder. The student hopes that her efforts will result in a few adoptions and a surplus of much-needed supplies.

Tails of Hope is a no-kill, non-profit animal rescue and adoption service. They are located at 1628 Old Deerfield Road in Highland Park. For more information or to see photos of the dogs and cats available for adoption, call (847)557-9554 or visit www.tailsof

Wayne Thomas Elementary is located at 2939 Summit Avenue in Highland Park, Illinois. For more information, please contact Leslie Goldstein at (773)919-4803.

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