SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Bronx, a 1-year-old pit bull mix, couldn't stop wagging his tale and running around with his new foster parent, a Seminole County high school student.
"I really like animals and I thought it was just a great way to get service hours and have an animal at the same time. It helps the dog get out of the kennel," 17-year-old Clayton Turner said about his new foster "son."
For the next eight weeks, the Turner family is going to provide Bronx with a home outside the Seminole County animal shelter.
"It's a great way to find them a home (and) for the kids to find responsibility," Emily Turner said about her son's initiative to be a part of the new program that Seminole County Animal Services launched a couple of months ago that pairs shelter pups with students who need volunteer hours to qualify for the Bright Futures Scholarship program.
Diane Gagliano, program coordinator for the shelter, said the idea behind the creation of the BFF 100 Program was designed to help registered Seminole County students that need 100 hours of community service for their Bright Future Scholarship. Gagliano said it's a win-win situation for both the dogs and the students.
"The dogs get out of the shelter and get into a home environment. They learn something -- making them more adoptable. The student learns a lot about organization, time management and having to train a dog, dog care and things like that." Gagliano said.
Once the foster family has chosen the animal that they're taking home, Seminole County Animal Services will also provide a crate, food and supplies like a leash and a collar, some dog treats and also a toy, during the time they will be fostering that animal.
The students take their foster pet to six weeks of basic obedience training classes and write a report about their experience, including recommendations for the type of home best suited for the dog.
"He's excited about the responsibility and he knows he's taking care of it, so we're gonna let him be in charge of the dog." Turner said, adding they hope to help find Bronx a forever home.
The program has already benefited the dogs, helping them find homes.
"Right now, our adoption rate has been very close to 100 percent for all the animals," Gagliano said.
The training classes for the dogs is for up to six students and it takes six weeks to complete. The program is only for 16-to-18-year-old Seminole County high school students.
Students interested in participating can contact Gagliano at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 407-665-5208.