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Calif. School Club Wins Award for Showing that Cruelty is Not Cool

The Humane Society of the United States

The Animal Compassion, Advocacy, Respect, Education (C.A.R.E.) Club of Sweetwater Union High School in National City, Calif. has been selected as the 2009 Humane Society Youth Club Award winner by The Humane Society of the United States. The award honors a K-12 youth club that has made a significant contribution to animal protection.

The Animal C.A.R.E. Club, with a growing membership of about 100, works to educate their classmates and community about animal cruelty. The club aired a PSA on dogfighting from The Humane Society of the United States for the entire school. The message was a powerful one for students who live in a community where fighting and chaining dogs is considered acceptable by many residents.

"We definitely have work to do in our community," said Kristina Campbell, C.A.R.E. Club advisor. "While the dogfighting video played I heard one student said, 'sick' (which means cool) and another student approached me to report a specific animal fighting situation and get The HSUS' hotline number."

Led by Campbell, the club helps fill the needs of animals in a low-income area. According to Campbell, there is no animal control officer on duty for two days of the week and animal resources are needed. The club has committed hundreds of hours to a variety of campaigns and community service activities, including:

  • Hosting SNAP (Spay Neuter Action Project) on campus. Approximately 200 dogs were spayed and neutered for free or at low cost.
  • Volunteering monthly at the local animal shelter. As a result, many students have adopted from shelters and learned the importance of spaying and neutering.
  • Organizing and promoting a free veterinary clinic where dogs and cats are seen by a vet, vaccinated and licensed for free. 
  • Protesting a mall pet shop on Saturdays to educate the public about puppy mills.
  • Letter-writing campaigns, including recent letters to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign bills to ban cow tail docking and to support puppy mill legislation.
  • Fundraising for favorite causes such as the Baja Animal Sanctuary in Rosarito, Mexico.
  • Advocating for the harbor seal colony living in La Jolla, Calif.
  • Becoming the host school for the Regional Occupation Program Veterinary Assistant program. Students can leave high school with a certificate enabling them to work at a veterinary office, dog kennel and dog day care.

"We want to congratulate the Animal C.A.R.E. Club for standing up for dogs who suffer because they are forced to fight, and for helping to solve the pet overpopulation problem where they live," said Heidi O'Brien, youth outreach director for The HSUS. "The club exemplifies what can be achieved with strong leadership and the collective voice of many enthusiastic and hardworking students."

For their efforts, the Animal C.A.R.E. Club received a library of animal protection books, a certificate of appreciation and a feature on the HumaneTeen Web site, humanesociety.org/teens.

Individuals at other schools have contacted Campbell wanting her expertise on how to start an Animal C.A.R.E. chapter. Members are currently working on a pet adoption campaign and are displaying photos of available dogs ready for adoption from the local shelters.

To read more about the Animal C.A.R.E. Club and other young people at work for animals, visit humanesociety.org/teens ("Humane Profiles").


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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org

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