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Students to earn class credit by helping West Haven animal shelter

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Student volunteers will help at the West Haven Animal Shelter. (WFSB photo) Student volunteers will help at the West Haven Animal Shelter. (WFSB photo)
WEST HAVEN, CT (WFSB) -

A lack of expected volunteers has led one animal shelter to turn to a crop of eager and free help.

Students are getting class credit or community service time at the West Haven Animal Shelter.

Trumbull High School student Lauryn Giuliano is one of five students working there.

"I just like helping animals and making sure that they are healthy," she said.

The shelter said there was supposed to be dozens of volunteers walking through the door and signing up to help. However, a state task force made it abandon the idea.

That lead to Sgt. Eric Primer of West Haven Animal Control to go back to the drawing board. He said he came up with the concept of bringing teens in to help with some of the work.

"In West Haven, animal control calls are the second most we go on in the city," he said. "So my officers don't have time to be in here and socialize with animals. They don't have time to walk them [and] they don't have time to clean up after them."

Primer's model has helped off and on over the years. He said the work isn't glamorous. Dirty cages often require cleaning.

However, animal control officer Shannon Rose argued that kind of work is the best part.

"Seeing the realities of it, it's not all cuddling puppies and petting kittens," she said. "There's a lot of hard work as well."

Rose would know. She too once volunteered for class credit as a teen. She became an officer last year.

West Haven High grad Rebecca Collins said she also volunteered and it blossomed into a career. She's a member of the paid staff.

"I get a chance to watch the dogs and watch the animals," Collins said. "I also get to see the feral cats. They go from feral to friendly and they get adopted, so it's very nice."

Collins said she hopes to one day become a veterinarian.

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