A group of students at Felix Varela Senior High School’s veterinary science program are working against the clock trying to help a group of dogs that have become near and dear to their hearts.
"Every single one of these dogs is precious to one of the students," said veterinary assisting teacher Alexandria Draper
For years magnet students like Mary Roy have cared for abandoned, injured, and neglected animals at the student run-rescue. Students work with the animals nearly every day and have all developed their personal favorites from Mary Roy’s “Dandelion” to Kayla Cerezo’s “Benny.”
"He's beautiful--and a lot of people have looked at him, but they're kind of scared because he's so big; but they don't know he's gentle," said Cerezo, a junior at Felix Varela Senior High School.
This summer though the veterinary wing will undergo renovations that will improve the program. The fixes will include new flooring and a new air conditioning unit. But, it also means the nearly 80 dogs still at the facility have to move out because they can’t live in a construction site.
"Unfortunately though the building is going to have no air-conditioning during the summer, so it's not going to be a safe environment for the dogs to live in, nor for the students to care for the dogs," said Ms. Draper.
"Honestly you get attached. You work with them. You learn how they are, who they are," said a teary eyed Cerezo.
As a result, current and former students are working against the clock. They are sharing their dog “tails” on social media through a Facebook page, “Urgent Felix Varela Dogs.”
While many folks have taken home puppies, students and faculty say the older dogs make great companions.
"Most of them are 100% house trained, they've also passed the puppy tear everything stage," said Yleana Escobar, lead magnet teacher.
In fact, many of the dogs respond to common commands and have passed the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizen Test, which means they come over when called, and will sit politely for petting. Forever homes are the priority, but long-term foster homes would help too.
"Someone that will be there for them to love them and care for them," Cerezo said, describing the kind of families she hopes the dogs will end up with.
Since the dogs are considered family, teachers said they will not be turned over to any shelter that would euthanize them, even if it means paying for boarding them. There is an adoption fee for taking home one of the dogs.
The construction is slated to begin on June 6th which means the dogs should be in their new homes by June 5th.
For more information you can visit the school's website at www.varelahighschool.org or call Ms. Escobar at 305-283-7118.