Making a difference: Class project helps humane society

Sonja Keith

Story and photo

by Sonja J. Keith

Two Conway Junior High School students recently used a class assignment to lend a helping hand to the Humane Society of Faulkner County.

Ninth-graders Emma Cariker and Annabel Simmons were assigned a year-long project in their pre-AP Civics class taught by Jennifer Barnett. The project also continued in an economics class taught by James Brogdon. 

Emma is a daughter of Kelley and J.D. Cariker. Annabel is a daughter of Catherine and Damon Wheetley.

For the assignment, students were asked to select a problem in society to research and to develop a strategy to make a difference in addressing the problem. Emma and Annabel identified puppy mills as the problem they wanted to research. 

Emma said she was interested in the topic because her family suspects that their pet – a Yorkie-Poo named Shadow – came from a puppy mill. “He was not in great health and had a broken rib,” she said. “If it was legit, they would be taking care of them really well.”

Annabel said she was also interested in a project that involved animals. “Puppy mills are such a big problem in Arkansas,” she said. She and her family have a rescue dog, named Daisy, who wandered up to her family’s home.

To help address the problem, they developed and sold a special T-shirt. “We both collaborated on what we wanted it to look like,” said Kelley.

The proceeds from 48 shirts – $377.61 – were presented to the humane society at the group’s spay-neuter clinic on Highway 65 in the Springhill community. In addition, Emma and Annabel posted awareness messages about puppy mills on social media.

Humane society board member Linda Earnhart accepts the donation from students Annabel Simmons (left) and Emma Cariker.

While making the presentation, representatives of the humane society explained the group’s work and discussed different options for the money to be used, including a pet food pantry, spay-neuter services and a fund to help with sick and injured animals.

The students will write a report on the project, including the progress that was made in addressing the problem and their accomplishments.

“We want to spread the word about puppy mills,” Annabel said, adding that they would like to see more regulations on who can breed dogs and requirements for sanitary conditions. “It’s not a common topic that is discussed.”