FORT WAYNE – Next year, Gabby Rands has plans to attend Mississippi State University, where she will study biology so one day she can be a veterinarian.
But for the time being, Rands is a senior at Canterbury School and the president of the Animal Care Teens program at Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control. She and other members of the program gathered Saturday to collect canned pet food for its second annual Stuff the Whisker Wag’n event.
The Whisker Wag’n is a large van that travels to collect food for the shelter. Last year, the event filled the van completely, Rands said.
Primarily, people find out about the drive from advertising or media outlets, she said. Members also stand at the entrance to the shelter, and at the intersection of Hillegas and Butler roads, where Animal Care & Control is located. Those who see the signs and want to help will often donate cash, all of which goes to buy canned food for cats and dogs.
Our goal this year is to stuff the wagon and then have extra, said Sharm Gunawardena, an adult leader of the program.
There’s no funding in the budget for canned food because it’s so expensive.
Jaclyn Sider, a member of Animal Care Teens and a junior at Canterbury, told about one cash donation the wagon received Saturday. A boy, maybe 6 or 7 years old, had a birthday party Friday night and asked people not to bring him gifts and instead to bring canned food, toys and money for Stuff the Whisker Wag’n.
Animal Care Teens is a volunteer program for those 13 to 18, Gunawardena said. The shelter requires volunteers to be at least 18 years of age, and the teen program helps them decide if they want to volunteer as an adult or if they may want to pursue a career in animals, like Rands and Sider.
I was interested in animals, but I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do, Sider said. (Animal Care Teens) has made me realize the opportunities there are to work with animals.