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Clubs helping homeless pets, humane society
Malena Martin comforts Roxanne as they await her turn to visit the veterinarian during a pet clinic sponsored by the Forsyth Central High Schools Homeless Pet Club. - photo by Alyssa LaRenzie

They’re helping the community, saving animals and fundraising for a cause they believe in.

But maybe the best part is “getting to play with them,” said Kendell Greer, while holding a dog named Angel.

Homeless Pet Clubs have been grabbing the attention of students and youth groups in Forsyth County who want a chance to help animals despite their age limitations.

The Humane Society of Forsyth County works with the clubs, giving them opportunities to help out however they can.

Jenn Von Essen, the society’s community outreach coordinator, said the county has 10 registered Homeless Pet Clubs, which follow the goals of the Homeless Pet Foundation started by Cobb County veterinarian Michael Good.

“Homeless Pet Clubs give students, civic leaders and business owners a way to share their love of animals by promoting animal rescue, responsible pet ownership, adoption of shelter animals and animal welfare,” according to the mission statement.

In Forsyth County, four public schools, a couple of businesses and several Girl Scout troops have formed clubs since the foundation put out the call in 2010.

The organization is a great fit for young people, according to Von Essen.

“The kids love the animals, and they’re old enough to where they want to be helping and creating and really doing something where they feel like they’re making an impact on the community,” she said. “Being able to do that with the animals is a really fun way to learn that lesson.”

Clubs often select an animal and work to get it adopted, something that even kids can do by posting flyers and spreading the word at school.

Even if their efforts don’t lead directly to the animal finding a home, Von Essen said the children get excited that this dog or cat they’ve gotten to know has found a family.

Elementary and middle schools groups also learn about animal care and rescue.

“When they hear that early on, it sticks with them,” Von Essen said.

High school clubs, such as the one at Forsyth Central, have opportunities to get a little more hands on with by volunteering at the society shelter or helping with the monthly low-cost shot, spay/neuter and microchip clinic.

President Alex Miner said she wanted to help with animal rescue, but it was easier to get involved with a group of friends.

They launched the club at the start of the school year and were thrilled when the society lowered the volunteer age to 16.

Miner and others in the group hope to become veterinarians someday, so the club gives them some early experience, especially at the shot clinics.

Von Essen said the club members hear firsthand from residents how much they appreciate the clinics, and sees the direct impact of their work.

At the November clinic, Andy and Corey Martin said the students were doing a great service for the community.

“It helps make sure that the animals are staying healthy,” Corey Martin said.

The couple brought their two boxers, Bruce and Roxanne, for their annual shots.

Both teachers in the Forsyth County school system, they agreed many of their students want to help animals, and so the club seemed like a great opportunity.

In the south end of the county, Lambert High School formed the Humane Hearts Club last year, which Von Essen said has held drives for the society that have yielded truckloads food and supplies.

Other types of school clubs have also taken an interest in helping with animal rescue.

The West Forsyth DECA Club selected the humane society as its community service project this year, while a Girls on the Run chapter at Cumming Elementary School is collecting towels and blankets.

Von Essen encouraged any school teachers or faculty members interested in starting a club to contact the humane society.

“Pets are important to our students, and therefore they’re important to the teachers and the schools,” she said. “We’re here to support them to get these clubs started and help them every step of the way.”