High schoolers organize animal shelter volunteer group

Alisa Boswell

There’s a new patrol on duty at the Portales Animal Shelter — the “Puppy Patrol.”

That’s the name 15 high-schoolers have given their group, a volunteer organization addressing animal abandonment.

Jamie Thomas, one of the original five members of the group, was approached by her father, Portales City Councilor Keith Thomas, with a request for help.

The elder Thomas joined the council a month ago, and had several Portales citizens approach him with concerns about the amount of animal abandonment and euthanasia in the local area.

Thomas said he soon discovered the animal shelter euthanized more than 100 animals in December, with just one animal adopted.

After speaking with Sgt. Walter Chambers, the head of the animal shelter, Thomas discovered the shelter was facing lack of manpower and funding. That’s when he approached his daughter about a volunteer effort.

“Me and my dad are really big animal people,” Jamie said. “When he came to me and told me how many animals had died, I pretty much went straight to my friends for their help.”

Jamie Thomas formed the group a week ago, along with fellow Portales High seniors Sarah Christensen, Kaitlin Nix, Justin Strawn and Elizabeth Goodwin.

The group goes to the animal shelter as many days as they can to walk, feed, bathe and play with the animals. The rationale, according to the “Puppy Patrol” Facebook page is that it helps the animals become more welcoming to people and increases the likelihood they will be adopted.

“This is probably my favorite part of the day, to come down here,” Jamie said. “Saving one of their lives is always rewarding, because it’s not their fault they’re here.”

The page includes photos of animals, including those rescued and others still available at the animal shelter.

The Puppy Patrol will be holding a community awareness event 11 a.m. on Feb. 5 at the animal shelter to talk to community members about the importance of spaying and neutering their pets and to raise money for the shelter.

Plans are in the works for a dog wash to raise money for the care of sick animals.

“These kids are amazing,” Keith Thomas said. “They’ve got their own leadership out there. They’re coming up with ideas.”

Christensen said she has had fun with the experience and loves helping the animals.

“I think it makes them (the animals) happier for us to be here,” Christensen said. “I think it’s crazy how people can lose such awesome dogs, and not even look for them.”