Local Kids Save Pit Bull Puppy

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Students from the Stephen Gaynor School raised money to rescue Misty the pit bull terrier

The students at the Upper West Side's Stephen Gaynor School, a special education school on West 89th Street, love animals just like most kids their age. But these kids have put an extraordinary effort into not just learning about but actually helping to save abused and neglected animals.

A few months ago, the school's behavioral consultant Dr. Kim Spanjol was teaching students about what happens when dogs and cats end up in the city's Animal Care and Control shelters. The pets, who have often been abandoned and suffer severe neglect or injury, are euthanised if homes or foster arrangements cannot be made. In the most extreme cases of abuse, the animals require hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars of surgery and rehabiliation. One particular dog, a pit bull terrier named Misty, caught the attention of Spanjol and her young students.

"When they saw Misty they really rallied into action and said we had to help her," Spanjol said of her students. She had showed them Misty's photo that was featured on an "urgent" list of animals headed for euthanasia if they were not rescued.

A group of about 8 students at the school were part of a club they formed called YAP - Youth Animal Protectors. The kids created the group after Spanjol told them about the practice of clubbing baby seals in Canada for their skin. Upon hearing about Misty, they organized a bake sale and raised money to donate to Second Chance Rescue in Queens, which had taken Misty out of the AC

"Miss Kim told us about Misty, and we saw how terrible wounds were and we wanted to help out," said Bea, 11, one of the YAP members. Misty had been used as "bait" for a dog fighting operation before she was rescued, and suffered from serious gashes and infections on her face, neck and body. She was only about 6 to 9 months old when she was dumped on a street corner in Brooklyn, no longer useful in dog fights, and left to die.

The story has a happy ending, at least for Misty. Thanks in part to the funds raised by the Stephen Gaynor students, she was able to recover and is now almost fully healed and living in a foster home. Last week, Misty came to the school to meet the students who had helped save her.

"It was spectacular to see her wounds being closed up, and when we saw her she was really happy and we're glad that she could continue to have a good life," said Bea.

"It was an amazing transformation. I thought it was great, just being able to see her after being able to donate so much money," said Ryan, 11, another student in YAP. "There are a lot of dogs that we're thinking about helping in the Second Chance Rescue program in Queens. They've all had a rough time."

Spanjol said that she was amazed at how passionate her students became and how much they were able to accomplish to help Misty; the students did much of the fundraising on their own initiative, over the weekend.

"They raised almost $900 in two hours," Spanjol said. "When people tell me that people don't really care about animal issues, it's just not true."

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer also came by to meet Misty and the kids. Spanjol has used Stringer's report, Led Astray, on the Animal Care and Control system as a way to teach students about the problems that city animals face and how concerned citizens might help them. She said that she's teaching them about how to recognize and report animal abuse, how spaying and neutering programs help keep down the population of homeless cats and dogs, and how to write letters to elected officials to appeal for animal welfare reform.

"They are really so passionate and excited and they get to use all these different kinds of skills," Spanjol said of the students. They are hoping that their story will inspire other kids to get involved in rescuing animals in their communities too. "We are envisioning millions of YAPs, all around the world."

Misty is now healthy and waiting to be adopted into a loving home. To find out more about her and other dogs available for adoption, visit Second Chance Rescue's website: nycsecondchancerescue.org


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