• Laurel Contributor

In the Hands of the Young

by David Stroud

The marvelous lessons imparted at CHHS’ Critter Camp are a blessing for both its participants and the shelter’s dogs.

The future of animal welfare really doesn’t have much to do with animals.

It has everything to do with children.

If we teach children kindness towards animals, compassion for their survival, a commitment to responsible and humane care, and a respect for the habitat in which these animals live and the planet that we share – then it is not much of a stretch to believe that these kids will grow up into adults who respect others who are different from themselves, who will be kind to each other, and who will work together to make this beautiful place that we all share a safe, friendly and welcoming home for all.

That is the core mission of the new CHHS Critter Camp that we introduced in 2019. The Critter Camps for this year are all in the record books now, with the four weeks we presented this year having been completely booked with a waiting list to boot. So we are already looking at an expanded schedule for 2020, with seven weeks planned – two for spring break and five in the summer. Each camp features fun, immersive and interactive experiences with animals at our no-kill shelter; humane education programs including canine body language and dog bite prevention, responsible pet ownership and the importance of spay/neuter; dog obedience and training demonstrations; plus exciting guest presentations by visiting veterinarians, wildlife biologists, and law enforcement K9 officers.

The camp experience concludes each week with a Friday afternoon “graduation hike” with CHHS shelter dogs.

During one of the graduation hikes this year, a nine-year-old girl named Katya looked up at us and said – completely out of the blue – “This was the best week of my life.”

And that statement sums up perfectly why we have created Critter Camp, and why we will expand the program for even more kids next year.

Established in 1987, Cashiers-Highlands Humane Society is a 501(c)(3) non-profit animal welfare organization located at 200 Gable Drive in Sapphire, one-and-a-half miles east of the Cashiers Ingles in between Cedar Creek Club and Lonesome Valley on Highway 64. For more information, visit us online at www.CHhumanesociety.org or call CHHS at (828) 743-5752. Tax-deductible donations to support our lifesaving work can be mailed to: CHHS, P.O. Box 638, Cashiers, NC 28717.

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