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Teen has heart for animals

June 14, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- Alexandra "Alex" Dale recently said goodbye to a friend.

The Labrador/pit bull mix dog arrived at Antietam Humane Society not long after Alex started volunteering there in 2007. At first, she was afraid of the black-and-white dog.

"I would hide when they brought him in," she said.

Then one day the dog, named Ratchet, jumped onto Alex and she feared she'd be bitten. However, Ratchet ended up licking the teenager all over.

Alex, 14, bonded with the dog during her daily chores at the humane society. A few weeks ago, a couple adopted him.

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"I was happy and I was sad at the same time," Alex said, saying she cried when Ratchet left.

Alex grew up with cats and dogs at home. She wanted to volunteer at the shelter, but was told she'd have to wait until she was 13. She arrived at the Lyons Road facility on her 13th birthday to sign up.

Her chores include ensuring the animals have food and water, cleaning dishes and giving the dogs exercise. Sometimes the shelter's residents include guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits and birds.

She plans to be at the shelter from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every weekday during her summer vacation from Waynesboro Area Senior High School.

"I really like the people here, and I like all the dogs and cats," said Alex, the daughter of Mark and Michele Dale.

At home she helps care for her family's seven dogs and six cats.

Alex already is thinking about her career pursuits. She said she's excited to start biology studies in 10th grade in preparation for possible careers in animal biology, veterinary medicine or animal rehabilitation.

She has no plans to cut back on her volunteerism, saying she most enjoys "seeing your favorite ones get adopted or the ones that have been here a long time."

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