A Passion for Pups
Published: May 3, 2012
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It started under the "Friendship Tree," a place where, according to South Abington Elementary School third-grade student Olivia Arcuri, friends talk and share their secrets while outside for recess.
Arcuri and some of her friends had read "The Puppy Place: Chewy and Chica" by Ellen Miles. The book tells the story of Chewy and Chica, twin puppies that were rescued from a puppy mill. In the back of the book were ideas on how children can try themselves to stop puppy milling.
Those ideas were what sparked "Paws for Peace."
Paws for Peace is comprised of Arcuri and five of her closest friends, all third-grade students at South Abington Elementary School. Their goal is to try to stop puppy milling through raising awareness and fundraisers.
"We are trying to help the dogs and we want to bring peace to the dogs in the puppy mills," said Christina Leo. "We've seen places that we think are selling dogs from the mills. It upsets us because the puppies are so cramped in the cages."
"Something we say to people is that dogs are like people, so treat them like people," said Grace Phillips."We should warn people because some people go to places that sell puppies from puppy mills and they want to buy them and then they die because they aren't treated right. If we get people to not buy from puppy mills, they won't get a lot of business so, maybe, they will shut down eventually. People don't realize that they encourage puppy mills if they buy from them."
Paws for Peace is rapidly becoming active in spreading its anti-puppy mill message throughout the school, including hanging posters in the hallways and even creating a commercial that was shown to the entire school during a recent assembly. At Phillips' recent birthday party, she even urged her guests to bring supplies for the Griffin Pond Animal Shelter in place of presents.
Principal Bob Bugno readily admits that the students' heartfelt commitment plays a major role in their drive to spread their message.
"They came to me and they asked me if they could do some things to get the word out there to people and I said I would support them," he said. "They are very committed to wanting to help this situation. For kids of their age, sometimes that is hard to facilitate, but they are working on it."
The students plan on holding several fundraisers for the Griffin Pond Animal Shelter, including sales of handmade dog bandanas and friendship bracelets and, eventually, a dog race.
Even Ellen Miles herself was moved by the students' efforts.
"I never thought that my book would inspire a group of children to form an anti-puppy milling group," Miles said. "I'm thrilled that my book would have that kind of impact on readers. It's absolutely fantastic and inspiring."
Eventually, the students would like to see puppy milling made illegal in the United States.
"I don't know why puppy milling isn't illegal," Arcuri said. "The dogs are treated like slaves because they aren't fed and they aren't taken care of right. The dogs don't have a voice so we're trying to be a voice for them. People that are running puppy mills are very, very cruel people to not even have a bit of guilt about what's happening."
To learn more about Paws for Peace, visit http://www.facebook.com/STOPPUPPYMILLING.