Teens unite to work for animals

By Leslie Sullivan
Meghan Fletcher and Jon DeBlock clean chipping paint off the animal shelter’s door.

SPARTA — During recessions and natural disasters animal shelters get overwhelmed with the number of animals dropped off at facilities. Often families can no longer afford to care for their pets or pets are not allowed in apartments when families are forced to move.

Hurricanes and floods displace countless animals who become orphaned and in need of care.

Some Sparta High School students want to help. On Saturday, May 23, they volunteered at B.A.R.K.S Animal Shelter in Byram.

The teens belong to an animal rights group, started by sophomore Amanda Iannuzzi, to advocate for laws protecting animals against abuse — including cruel science and product experiments.

The group meets every Tuesday, and has come a long way. They hope to become an organized school club. They formed in early winter and on a regular bases have about ten active members. In the future the group hopes to sign petitions and really make a change in the lives of animals. They also plan on helping out some local pets in Sparta who are homeless and find them loving homes.

Teachers Robert Jones and Brigitte Egli assisted the group with rides to and from B.A.R.K.S, and by helping out at the shelter.

“We are a voice to the animals, and that’s why we need to do something. They are helpless without us,” said Iannuzzi.

The students arrived at a seemingly small shelter, but soon understood how much their work helped. B.A.R.K.S is a non-profit animal rescue organization. They provide animals with veterinary care, housing and permanent placement of stray and abandoned cats and dogs.

The teens had their work cut out for them as they worked long and hard hours cleaning, painting and scrubbing cages.

“Cleaning the shelter and cages wasn’t the best job, but knowing that the dogs were going to have somewhere clean to sleep made me feel really good. Most people think of volunteer work as hard and boring, but helping B.A.R.K.S was fun and rewarding,” said Scott Gaffney.

The group had a booth at Sparta Day; they volunteer at local shelters and, in the near future, they will host a clothing drive. The students hope raise awareness to what they consider unacceptable treatment of animals.

“It’s a team effort and every single person in the group is really showing their compassion towards animals. Everyone really has such great hearts and I’m so thankful that we all can come together with good intentions,” said Iannuzzi.


Interested in lending a hand? Contact Judy Lofgren at 973-525-7272, volunteer@barksinc.com).