EULESS -- A girls group at Trinity High School is doing its part to find homes for pets at the Euless Animal Shelter.
Students in the Girl's Awareness Program, or GAP, help take care of pets at the shelter, conduct fundraisers and promote adoptions.
Animal Services Supervisor Larry James said GAP is the best thing that has happened at the shelter since it was built in 1977.
"They knocked our euthanasia down at least 70 percent," he said. "Most of the remaining 30 percent is injured or sick wildlife, sick dogs and cats and feral cats that can't be adopted."
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Betsy Deck, Euless communications director, said that's the most tangible reason GAP received the city's 2009 Youth Volunteer of the Year Award.
"They are down there every weekend, walking, brushing and loving on the pets," Deck said. "They also host two fundraisers a year for the animal shelter. For teenagers to donate such a significant chunk of their free time to the animal shelter is incredible."
Danielle Dreyer, who was GAP president until she graduated last week, still volunteers at the shelter.
"We try to come every Monday," she said. "Some girls try to train the dogs and make them easier to adopt."
The girls also give cats the loving attention they crave.
"I really love animals," said Monique Oatis, a senior. "I want to be a vet when I grow up. All of the people I know in GAP want to be vets."
English teacher Steffenie Vela, who founded the club eight years ago and is its lead sponsor, said a number of people at Trinity are involved in the program.
Vela said Stephanie Cronk, an English as a second language teacher, photographs the dogs and cats and posts them on such websites as Petfinder and Adopt-a-Pet. Other educators, like Lory Palmer, Beth Pizzuto and Linda Munz, work alongside the students. The adults also administer immunizations against diseases such as parvo.
"A lot of things get done at the shelter that wouldn't get done if GAP wasn't there," Pizzuto said.
James said GAP makes it easier to get animals adopted not only by advertising them on the Internet but also by reducing adoption fees. The shelter's fees, which include vaccinations and mandatory spay or neuter, are $155 for a male dog and up to $250 for a female. Cats are $99 for a male and $135 for a female.
But GAP-sponsored adoptions, whether dogs or cats, are $50 for males and $75 for females.
Alice Church, a junior, said more than 300 dogs and cats were adopted last year because of GAP.
"We come to this shelter because it's off the beaten path and needs more exposure," she said.
TERRY EVANS, 817-390-7620