CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — Monday morning’s opening of the Humane Education Center on the grounds of the Briggs Animal Adoption Center is being hailed as a big first step in eradicating animal abuse.
State Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley/Jefferson, officiated at the ceremony. Unger is credited with securing a $20,000 state community partnership grant toward the cost of building the new center, which is aimed at teaching children to become animal welfare advocates.
The doors opened Monday morning to the first of three Cool to Care camps this summer.
Jim Taylor, president of the National Humane Education Society, said members of the society’s board of directors “believe that nearly every known cruelty, abuse and exploitation of animals can be eradicated through education. The Cool to Care children’s camp begins part of that learning process.”
The new learning center is projected to serve hundreds of children in the Tri-State area, said Michael Mahrer, the society’s director of development and marketing.
The first of this summer’s campers, first- through third-graders, are learning to be “pet pals.” They will learn the basics of responsibly taking care of cats and dogs. Subsequent camps will accept students in grades four through six, then grades seven through nine, Mahrer said.
The 1,000-square-foot center was built from the bones of an outdoor pavilion that was enclosed and converted into a classroom building for year-round use.
The Briggs Animal Adoption Center opened in 2000, Mahrer said. In addition to the National Humane Education Society headquarters, it also houses the Spay Today program and is an affiliate of the Peace Plantation Animal Sanctuary in Walton, N.Y.
Mahrer said the center adopts out 70 to 90 dogs a year and 80 to 100 cats. Administration fees are $100 for dogs and $75 for cats, he said.
Every animal is screened for disease, given a thorough checkup by an in-house veterinarian, gets obedience and other basic training from staff members, and is spayed or neutered before it leaves the center, he said.