ROCK FALLS – Happy Tails Humane Society has a new program that will give teens a chance to help the animals, raise money for the shelter, and learn about pet care.
They’ll also get to make music videos endorsing pet adoption.
“It’s going to be an amazing program,” shelter spokesman Donald Czycyk said.
The program will bring in educational speakers, such as a veterinarian, to teach the participants about pet care, state animal abuse laws, and how to spot and stop animal abuse. The teens also will interact with the dogs and cats, and volunteer work with them, Czycyk said.
They will learn how fundraising works, and set their own small fundraising goals for the shelter of about $50.
Each month, the shelter will choose a popular song, and the kids will use the shelter’s three donated video cameras to make videos that will feature shots of the shelter’s animals and possibly choreographed dancing.
The videos, which will be posted on Facebook, will “show the love we have for animals” and will raise adoption awareness, Czycyk said.
The weekly program will begin in early February, and will start out using 16- and 17-year-old volunteers. Plans are to eventually offer a program for 14- and 15-year-olds, too, Czycyk said.
Participation will be free, although the nonprofit shelter expects to ask parents for a $5 donation for gasoline for a trip to a “Hoo” Haven Wildlife Rehabilitation & Education Center, an animal refuge in Rockford.
Once participants reach age 18 they most likely will move on to become a standard volunteer, or they may choose to help with another program being planned for 6- to 14-year-olds expected to be launched this summer, he said.
In other Happy Tails news, adoption numbers are “way up” at the no-kill shelter, Czycyk said in an unrelated news release. In the last 4 months of 2012, more than 80 cats and 35 dogs went to their “forever” homes, the release said.
Happy Tails also has been working to increase its presence on Facebook, Petfinder and its own website.
Thanks to a donated sound system, the animals now listen to “soothing sounds and music, shown to have a calming effect on pets,” Czycyk said in the release.
“As the new year starts, Happy Tails is in a very good place.”
To sign up
Happy Tails new teen program for ages 16 and 17 launches at 4:30 p.m. Feb. 5 at the shelter, 1408 McNeil Road in Rock Falls.
It will be held Tuesdays from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
To, sign up, go to happytailsanimalshelter.org to print an application. Fill it out and bring it with you.
Shelter hours have been expanded to accommodate the teen program and people who can't get there during the day.
Happy Tails now is open to the public from 8 a.m. to noon Tuesday through Friday, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday.
Call 815-626-2994 to make a Saturday appointment.