Kids and Pets: A Special Combination
By Barbara Webber
Most everyone knows the SPA takes care of dogs and cats who, for whatever reason, need care and help finding a forever home. We do that very well with the help of your donations and our wonderful volunteers and staff. I think this past year has been the best year ever, with a dedicated team working together and high morale among the volunteers.
In existence for more than 30 years, the SPA is the only no-kill animal shelter for dogs and cats in San Miguel. We house up to 100 animals. We also have an onsite clinic with a full-time vet. About a year ago we started a pilot program in cooperation with the Escuela de Educacion Especial, a school for deaf students, with the goal of introducing ourselves (animals included) to them. The students range in age between 5 and 17 years old. Once a month, we either bring animals to the school or students from the school visit the SPA.
With their teachers acting as translators and using sign language so the students understand, the kids have met with our veterinarian, our vet tech, our adoptions/volunteers coordinator, and our volunteers. They are always attentive and have lots of questions. We have taught them what to do if they find an abandoned or sick animal and how to help out in those situations in their neighborhoods. They are very interested in and eager to learn what the SPA does for San Miguel.
The best part is they get to play with and interact with kittens, cats, puppies, and dogs. This is the highlight of the visit, accompanied by lots of oohs and aahs and, of course, big smiles. It is rewarding to watch young students afraid of dogs overcome their fears and embrace and cuddle puppies. From their interaction with our animals, some of the older students have decided they like cats better than dogs or vice versa. Most of all, we see very happy students relishing a new experience.
There are 15 students, with another eight on a
waiting list, so we may have to modify some of the visits due to space constraints. This program is one I’m sure will continue for the mutual benefit of the students and the SPA. Visit us at Los Pinos 7, 152 6124, Monday-Saturday, 11-2 and check our website at www.spasanmiguel.org to learn more about us and our available animals.