EULESS — Evelyn Reyes and Nora Barakat tried their best to coax Buttercup to take a walk.The Trinity High School students whispered soft words and rubbed her back, but the shy black dog just glanced sadly at the girls and stayed put. Buttercup was at the Euless Animal Shelter, where the girls were helping out as part of the Trinity GAP Club. The Girls Awareness Program will have its 2014 Spring Pet Fair on Saturday at the school.“The girls will be working hard,” said Steffenie Vela, a club sponsor and teacher at Trinity. She said they will participate in a walkathon, walking and bathing dogs for charity dollars. Last month’s walkathon raised about $16,000 for the shelter, she said.GAP sponsored 433 pet adoptions this year, Vela said. The group, which works through the nonprofit Trinity Gap Rescue, has helped cut the euthanasia rate at the shelter by about 80 percent, Vela said.The all-girls club instills a sense of service and empowerment in young women. They learn about women’s issues from guest speakers at school and on field trips. “We learn about making good choices,” said Emily Torres, 17, a GAP member and junior at Trinity High School.Torres said that they learn to be proud about “being feminine in this world.” But many of the lessons involve giving back to society.The group, formed about 11 years ago, spends many hours helping animals. The 40 to 50 young women have built a reputation for animal rescue efforts. They were part of the team of animal advocates and caregivers who helped mend Riley, a puppy who made headlines after being rescued from abuse that included burns and malnourishment. “You can learn a lot about a person the way they treat dogs, because that’s how they treat other beings behind closed doors,” Torres said.GAP members exercise and care for the animals once a week during visits to the Euless Animal Shelter. They also volunteer at fundraisers and help care for the animals during the summer.Vela said she’s seen the girls grow through the program, including some who were once afraid of animals but overcame their fears.“It’s nice to see them change,” Vela said.
Diane Smith, 817-390-7675 Twitter: @dianeasmith1