Peaceful Pups: Bensalem Scout Project Provides Calm Setting for Shelter Dogs

dog in the grass
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A Girl Scout project was designed to destress shelter dogs; it won attention from the scouting organization's national level.

It’s not easy being a shelter dog. There’s the confusion of being removed from home, the strangeness of a new pack, a parade of curious onlookers filing by, and not a lot of 1:1 human contact (despite staff/volunteer efforts to connect as much as possible). The desire to help area dogs-in-waiting led local Girl Scout Angelina Schoener to launch a project to ease their stress. Sarah Siock, of the Bucks County Courier Times, reported on the organizational recognition that rewarded her work.

Schoener, 14, created a sensory garden for the patient pooches at the Women’s Animal Center in Bensalem.

She raised the funds to purchase the site’s amenities — dog-safe herbals, stone walkways, calming wind chimes — and organized volunteers to rehab a spot at the shelter.

“When you think of giving back to the community the first thing you may think of is helping people. But you don’t always think about animals. Pets make our lives so much happier, and animals should be one of our top priorities,” said Schoener.

Her busy schedule of school and activities made time management difficult. But her passion for animals strengthened her commitment to help the at-risk canines.

For her effort, she was awarded a Silver Star from the Girl Scouts. The honor recognizes a scout who identifies a need, plans a solution, gathers the necessary resources (financial and human), and enacts change for the good.

In Shoener’s case, she convinced donors from brand-name stores like Home Depot in Neshaminy and Castle Garden Center in Lower Southampton to offer supplies.

Jack Griffin, shelter services director, commented that Schoener’s work dovetails perfectly with the organization’s mission to make the animals under its roof as comfortable as possible.

“Obviously, getting walked is important. But this provides an additional layer for the dogs. It gives them additional sights, smells and feels, rather than just going out to go to the bathroom,” he said.

More on Angelina Schoener and her canine compassion is at the Bucks County Courier Times.

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