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Sharing puppy and kitten love
The Humane Society's Kids' Club lets youngsters learn, socialize animals
Kevin Miller, 8, a third-grader at White Sulphur Elementary School, paints a stamp as he decorates an apron Friday at the Humane Society of Hall County.

After her first day of Critter Crew at the Humane Society of Hall County, Grace McNeilly, 9, had already made up her mind about her future.

"I want to work here ... so I can play with the animals," she said. "I just like working with animals."

McNeilly was one of seven children who attended Critter Crew on Friday, the first session of the Humane Society's monthly Kids' Club meetings. Critter Crew caters to children ages 7 to 9.

The Humane Society's Kids' Club allows area kids to learn about animals in a safe environment, meet other animal lovers and also helps prepare the animals in the shelter for adoption, said Kelley Uber Sterner, the Humane Society's volunteer and human education coordinator.

Sterner holds two different sessions of Kids' Club each month. One, called Critter Crew, is for kids ages 7 to 9, and the other, Animal Ambassadors, is for ages 10 to 12.

On Friday, Animal Ambassadors will meet at the Humane Society for the second session of Kids' Club, and in the future, Sterner said she hopes to add a similar summer camp to the monthly program.

The programs for each group are the same, but training for the older club members is a little more in-depth than with the younger group. Topics for the older kids could involve demonstrations of pet cardiopulmonary resuscitation and more information on pet-care careers, Sterner said.

"They're closer toward teenagers. They're learning more about animals and starting to think about what they want to do as a career," Sterner said of the older group. "The younger kids, they really just want to have fun. They want to have that interaction, but they're not trying to figure out what they're going to do."

But some of the younger group who attended Friday's Kids' Club said they already know they want to take care of animals when it comes time to be a grown up.

In the meantime, though, they liked just being a part of the Critter Crew and seeing all of the animals that live at the Humane Society.

"You get to work with the animals, and we get to do really cool stuff like make this apron," McNeilly said.

Of all the puppies and large dogs, cats, kittens and birds, McNeilly said she liked the Humane Society's sole rabbit the best. Since she has a pet rabbit at home, McNeilly said she already knew how to take care of the one at the Humane Society.

"You have to clean their cage and feed them and you have to play with them," McNeilly said.

Kevin Miller, 8, on the other hand, did not see any of his favorite animals Friday at Critter Crew, even though it was his love for animals that drew him to the Kids' Club.

"I mostly love wild animals," Miller said.

Miller said Sterner taught the Critter Crew how to let the animals sniff them before petting them, but it was nothing the aspiring zoologist did not already know.

"I didn't really learn anything," Miller said. "I knew it already."


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