Story and Photos by Pam Fernald
The 4th Laws and Paws class graduated 5 more students and their canine charges May 31, 2012 at Chinook Middle School in the City of SeaTac.
This unique and popular after-school program for students was spearheaded by Officer Karen Davy, who is the School Resource Officer at Chinook.
Laws and Paws is a six-week, after school dog training program funded by the Greater King County Police Activities League in partnership with the City of SeaTac Police Department, the King County Sheriff’s Office, Chinook Middle School and Homeward Pet Adoption Center (a no-kill, non-profit animal shelter located in Woodinville).
Students met after school for three days each week. On two of those days the students worked with their assigned shelter dogs in basic obedience and socialization. Also during training days, which took place on the field at Chinook Middle School, students learned how to teach their dog basic commands such as sit, stay, lay down, come as well as proper leash behavior. The students were taught about responsible pet ownership, careers in the animal field and first aid for dogs. Students also learned about animal abuse – for example, how to identify it, why people abuse animals, and what to do about it if they see it happen.
The 3rd day was a classroom day. During the classroom day, students heard from professionals in the animal field, including veterinarians, vet techs, animal control professionals and more. This year, Officer Davy arranged to have staff from Point Defiance Zoo and PAWS (Progressive Animal Welfare Society) speak to the class. The class also received a visit from a Drug K-9 officer. Three women from the Women’s Correctional Facility in Purdy, who are in the Prison Pet Partnership Program, wrote to the class and shared why they are in prison, and talked about how the Pet Partnership Program has helped them.
According to Officer Davy, through the Laws and Paws training, students learn the value of patience, compassion, and respect of animals and each other. In return, the dogs they train become more adoptable. The dogs used for the Laws and Paws program are approved based on personality and temperament testing. In most cases, these dogs are only in need of basic socialization and obedience skills to be good family members. Together, the students and dogs teach each other valuable skills and lessons for life.
The Laws and Paws graduates this year, Sally, Sadie, Jack, CornDog and Davey Crockett are from Homeward Pet Adoption Center and thanks to the diligence and commitment of their Laws and Paws student trainers, these furry, four legged kids are now ready to go to their Forever Homes!
One of this year’s students, Aujhenae McDonald, said she feels that Law and Paws gives emotional support and told the small gathering of graduation well wishers that:
“All of the dogs have a story like us.
We heal the dog’s hearts and they trust us.”