Youngsters devote dog days to aiding Butler County Humane Society
By Braden Ashe
Published: Tuesday, July 30, 2013, 12:31 a.m.
Few elementary school students spend the dog days of summer performing volunteer work, but five Buffalo Township children have traded in their jump ropes and Nintendo Wii controllers for some soap and a bucket.
They've started a dog washing business that will benefit the Butler County Humane Society.
Showers for Shelters was created in June by Mia Dress, 9, and 10-year-olds Amanda Huff and Megan Foust.
The dog-loving neighbors wanted to spend their summer with canines and benefit the animals housed in the shelter along Evans City Road in Connoquenessing Township (Renfrew).
At $3 per wash and with a handful of donations, the girls reached their $100 goal on Monday that they set at the beginning of summer. The proceeds will be used to buy some of the items listed on the humane society's online donations wish list, Megan said.
“We all feel like it's really important to help the animals because they don't have homes,” she said. “Hopefully, they'll have a better life at the shelter with everything that we give them.”
With the help of Mia's 11-year-old brother, Liam, and Amanda's sister, Emily, 12, the girls have washed about 10 dogs thus far. They plan on washing more until school resumes in late August.
The business operates out of the Dress' front yard along Route 356 in Buffalo Township.
Small dogs are given a bubble bath and large dogs are washed with a hose before they're towel dried.
The girls promote Showers for Shelters with fliers throughout their neighborhood and go door-to-door with sales pitches.
The operation was originally conceived as a dog walking business but Megan's mother, Joy Foust, concerned for their safety, advised them to go along the hygienic route.
“Nobody likes washing their dog,” she said. “I told them people will definitely pay you to do that for them. They (the kids) love it, though. They love the dogs and knowing that they're making a difference.”
Jill Hall, event and volunteer coordinator at Butler County Humane Society, said the shelter would not exist without the support of individual donations and grassroots fundraisers like Showers for Shelters.
“No matter the size of the donation or where it comes from,” she said, “every tiny bit that comes our way is always greatly appreciated. Those tiny bits come together to comprise the majority of our funding and what we rely on for survival.”
Among the most desperately needed items at the shelter, according to Hall, are canned foods, non-scooping cat litter and leather chew toys for the dogs. The humane society is also in need of other less conspicuous items, including toilet paper, laundry detergent and paper towels.
The organization could put the money raised by Showers for Shelters toward a plethora of animal services, as well.
“We could really stretch $100 a long way,” said Hall. “That could buy enough dog food to feed them for a couple weeks. It could pay for neutering or spaying operations for two animals. It could be put toward critical vaccinations, too.
“I can't say enough about how blessed we are for the community support and people like these girls.”
The humane society volunteer coordinator said the group will most likely reward the dog washers with a gift certificate and a tour of the facility.
The girls are planning on making Showers for Shelters a summer staple and 10-year-old Megan said they'll need continued support from the community to be successful.
“We've been keeping track of everyone who donated to us in a binder,” she said. “It feels really good that people support us and we're going to let them know how their money was spent.
“I'm glad that people care as much about the animals as we do.”
Braden Ashe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4673 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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