SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — In just a year, nearly 60 shelter pets have found permanent homes thanks to a group of students in Seminole County.
The one-of-a-kind program allows the students to foster animals and, in turn, receive community service hours toward their Bright Futures scholarships.
The program has taken off and is now expanding, and it’s something that no one else is doing.
Per state guidelines, students can earn volunteer hours for working at a shelter, but Seminole County took it a step further.
The idea has been so successful, there's now a waiting list!
“She doesn't always follow directions, and you have to work with that,” said Lauren Concannon, a graduate of Lake Brantley High School.
Walking on a leash and learning basic commands with Concannon is a foster dog named Jeanie.
Concannon hopes the extra time training will help Jeanie get adopted.
“She's just a sweetheart, and she loves people,” Concannon said.
She is one of 47 high schoolers to complete Seminole County's first Bright Futures 100 program.
Students 16 and over earn service hours toward their scholarships by fostering dogs and teaching them to pass a basic obedience course.
The partnership has put 55 shelter pets in permanent homes.
“They're getting a skill, and the dogs are learning how to become better dogs to make them more adoptable,” said Diane Gagliano, with Seminole County Animal Services.
Oviedo High School student Shane Jones is one of six students in the shelter's summer session.
“This is baby. She is a 7-year-old beagle,” Jones said. “It'll help pay for college. It's just a really good way. It helps a dog, it helps me.”
The students must also write essays about their experience. Some describe a life-changing assignment and learning lessons that go well beyond a classroom.
“If you're not, like, used to having responsibility and you're not taking accountability for your actions, you're not going to be able to take care of a dog,” Jones said.
The students have also taken an active role in helping the dogs get adopted with several adopting their foster pets themselves.
Others used social media to help find their dogs the right homes.
Meanwhile, the program has now expanded to include cats.
© 2020 Cox Media Group