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He's the dog guy

Each Friday, the animal shelter's Filon visits one of three schools to give an animal-related message

Each Friday, the animal shelter's Filon visits one of three schools to give an animal-related message

March 02, 2009|By JANET HEIM

The program is only in three local elementary schools, but it's making Brian Filon somewhat of a local celebrity with younger students.

Filon, who works for the Humane Society of Washington County, said he runs into students who recognize him as the dog guy.

In his position as assistant to manager of volunteers, humane education and public assistance, Filon has been rotating visits to Fountaindale, Salem Avenue and Winter Street elementary schools.

Every Friday, Filon will visit one of the schools in time for the daily televised morning announcements. He joins the students in charge of reading the day's school menu, weather, birthdays and other school news.

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Filon then shares an animal-related message with the students, generally about dog safety.

On Feb. 20, he was at Fountaindale by 7:30 a.m. to prepare for the morning announcements. Filon read a shortened version of the book "May I Pet Your Dog?" by Stephanie Calmenson.

The story reminded children to always ask the owner first before approaching a dog, then with permission, let the dog sniff their hand before petting the dog.

Filon said he's been doing this school outreach since November 2008 with positive results. The goal is to expand the program to include all Washington County elementary schools.

"One Salem Avenue teacher said all the kids really pay attention when I come on for morning announcements," Filon said.

He said he's been approached by students when they see him in the Humane Society's kennel and recognize him from the morning announcements or after-school programs he's done at Winter Street and Memorial Recreation Center.

"It's kind of surprising. I actually get kids who come up to me at the shelter. Kids come up and say 'When are you coming back to our school?'" Filon said.

Filon, 27, graduated from Shippensburg University in May 2008, with a degree in Communications/Journalism but no career plans. A college friend was working at the animal shelter and told Filon about this job.

Filon, who grew up in Lancaster County, Pa., said he grew up around animals because his father was a dog breeder.

"I'm really grateful to have this job now. It's a job I can feel good about," he said.

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