Thomson Elementary School second graders learned a new responsibility of law enforcement officers last week. Second graders who belong to the Citizens In Action club visited the McDuffie Animal Shelter where they helped puppies and heard advice from Thomson City Police Investigator Lt. Scott Whittle and McDuffie County Sheriff Deputy Kerry Johnson.
"These guys protect not only you and I, but the animals in the city and county. They make sure we're safe and that all our animals are safe. So, they have broad shoulders to carry all that responsibility," Gail Newsome, the manager of the animal shelter, told the students.
Lt. Whittle told the children about the dog he had when he was their age, and the problems with dogs he now faces as a police officer, namely dogs that haven't been vaccinated and bite people or the new problem of dog-napping.
"Your dog is your best friend, so if you care about it, you need to take it to the vet and get its shots and have a chip put in it," Lt. Whittle said.
Ms. Newsome explained about the radio-frequency identification microchips that can be implanted under a dog's skin and read by a scanner to provide identification information. The chips can be inserted at a low cost, usually around $30, and "only takes a second to insert," she said.
Rather than protecting dogs from being stolen, Dep. Johnson discussed the problem of pet owners abandoning their unwanted animals on the side of the road.
"It's against the law to drop an animal off. That's cruelty to animals," Ms. Newsome said. "If you see that happening, get the tag number and call 911."
Dep. Johnson also talked about vicious dogs, and some of the reasons a dog becomes vicious, such as a result of abuse.
"But not all stray dogs are vicious," he said. "Those that aren't, Miss Gail adopts them out to good homes."
After the presentation, second grader Shayla Hawkins said she has a "little, white, furry dog" at home that stays inside. Shayla said she is glad her dog is an inside dog.
"If he gets out, then I learned I need to protect it," she said.
Ms. Newsome taught the students the importance of protecting their animals' health with preventive measures such as vaccines and worm treatments. She had several preserved specimens of heart worms and intestinal worms for the children to inspect.
"Realize how important it is to take care of your animals," she said. "Every one of these could have been prevented. Our pets want nothing but love and affection from us."
And the animals currently housed at the shelter did receive affection from the students while they were there. The children had fun holding and petting the puppies. The also brought gifts of love.
Each year, the CIA club holds a donation drive to benefit the animal shelter. When they arrived at the shelter, they carried in armloads of bags and cans of dog and cat food, pet toys, animal shampoo and towels.
"I always look forward to this time every year, knowing you guys are coming to bring things for us," Ms. Newsome said.
For more information on adopting animal, or to make a donation to the animal shelter, call 706-595-0463. The shelter, located on White Oak Road, is open from 4-6 p.m., Monday through Friday.