Shelter dogs are getting a second chance at East Rowan High School.
The school’s animal science class raised money to save four canines from the Rowan County Animal Shelter.
Next, the students used donated materials to build kennels to house the dogs at the school.
But the students haven’t just saved the dogs from possible euthanasia, they’ve also given them a new purpose.
They’ve been working with local trainer Samantha Smith to teach the dogs obedience through the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen Program.
About five students pair up with each dog to teach a variety of skills including how to accept a friendly stranger, sit politely for petting, walk through a crowd, react to another dog and come when called.
Smith, a Canine Good Citizen evaluater for the kennel club, volunteers her time at the school about twice a week.
“I incorporate all positive training methods and I can see relationships growing and these lowly shelter dogs turning into shining stars,” she said. “I believe it helps the kids see value in something another person didn’t. It teaches them not to give up.
“Watching an animal come from nothing, knowing nothing and seeing them blossom to a nicely-trained, well-mannered dog and you did it all is such a self-esteem booster.”
Smith said the goal is to get the dogs up to speed to graduate from the good citizen program and be adopted out to local families.