Writers to the Rescue: The Cat House

Love animals? Love to write? Then this is the club for you! Some animals need to be rescued. We’ll talk about why, look at lots of pictures, create ads and posters, and write adventure stories. Other animals rescue us. Learn about how animals are used to find people, save them from danger, alert them in medical emergencies, and all kinds of other animal heroics. If we’re lucky, we may even have some special human and furry guests.

The above blurb was the description used to advertise one of the writing clubs I taught this summer through Community Learning Centers. In “Writers to the Rescue,” students spent the first day learning about general pet care, the next two days learning how companion animals need rescue, and the last two days learning how animals rescue people. Students created a variety of projects over the week, including memory books, promotions, letters, news reports, and stories.

As part of teaching about how companion animals need rescue, I distributed profiles of real cats in The Cat House, a no-kill shelter. We talked about why these cats ended up in a shelter. The reasons varied. Some had owners who couldn’t take their pets when they got sick and hospitalized. Other cats were no longer wanted due to age or health. Some started out as feral or stray. We also talked about how we could promote cats, such as through tweets and blog posts, to help find them homes.

What follows are scans of posters that students created about the cats they picked. You can click on them to see a larger view.

CatHouse_Posters1 CatHouse_Posters2

Mid-week, I invited a guest speaker from The Cat House. A volunteer, Courtney, shared how The Cat House started in 1998 as a network of foster homes, then moved into rented facilities around town, and now is at its permanent home. Over the years, The Cat House has helped “bottle babies,” strays and ferals, special needs cats, and older cats. Some special services The Cat House offers are fostering of cats needing homes, a Trap-Neuter-Release program, and outreach such as Courtney’s presentation. 🙂

After Courtney saw the posters my students created, she visited The Cat House to take photos of the cats my students had picked. You can click on them to see a larger view.

CatPhotos

CatPhotos2

The Cat House is completely reliant on volunteers. During the weekdays there are two shifts per day and then on the weekend there’s just one shift per day. Volunteer duties include clean cat areas, defur cat beds and linen, groom cats, and feed cats. Obviously, an important and much enjoyed task is also spending time with the feline residents!

Courtney brought along a cat named Donovan, a laid-back male who loves to talk and snuggle. My students got to meet and greet Donovan, as well as ask tons of questions. Donovan spent his first few minutes sniffing around the classroom, but then sat in Courtney’s lap and allowed students to pet him. After a lot of attention, Donovan retreated to a corner to nap. Donovan serves as a therapy cat and, incidentally, still needs a home. What follows are a few photos from this session.

WritersRescue_Class

WritersRescue_Group1

WritersRescue_Group2

WritersRescue_Group3

On our final day, I reserved thirty minutes for an extra special activity. Earlier in the day, a local news station had featured “Writers to the Rescue” as part of its weekly “Excellence in Education” segment. I showed the report and then allowed students extra time to finish their posters, all of which I’ll bring later this month to The Cat House. You can see and read the report at KLKN-TV: Students Help Local Animal Shelter

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