Virginia 2nd graders help nearly 2 dozen shelter pets find fur-ever homes

RICHMOND, Va. — A letter-writing assignment for one second-grade classroom in Virginia has helped Richmond Animal Care and Control place an astounding 83% of some of its harder-to-adopt residents in fur-ever homes.

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The “persuasive writing” project, spearheaded by instructor Kensey Jones at St. Michael’s Episcopal School, asked students to write letters in the voice of their assigned animals, explaining what exactly made them the perfect choices for adoption, NPR reported.

It would seem Jones’ students have a knack for salesmanship.

Christie Chipps Peters, director of Richmond Animal Care and Control, confirmed to the news outlet that 20 of the 24 animals have been formally adopted since the letters and accompanying drawings were placed outside the animals’ kennels.

Take, for instance, Sleigh Ride, a “chubby, blue-gray pit bull” that Peters classified as a long-timer at the shelter.

Sleigh Ride hit the jackpot, however, and found her new home about 10 days after one of Jones’ students wrote, “Do you want to adopt me? You can snuggle with me! I promise that I will be a good dog. You can even sleep with me if you want!”

Only Pebble, Yosemite, Kotey and I’ll Tumble For Ya are still waiting on the right humans to walk through the agency’s door, NPR reported.

“It was just a miraculous marketing tool to help people find those pets and fall in love with them, with the stories that the kids wrote, and then take that pet home with them,” Peters told the news outlet, noting that she intentionally stuck with the harder-to-adopt animals when compiling her list.

In her experience, people tend to breeze right past the older animals, especially those with behavioral or health problems. The students’ letters and illustrations, however, encouraged people to take the time to get to know the animal behind the label, she told the outlet.

Animals like Sunday Special, a tan and white pit bull, whose letter read: “I would love to be adopted. If you do adopt me, I hope I will brighten up your Sundays like the sun! You’ll be my Sunday Special and I hope I’ll be yours!”

Meanwhile, Jones, who volunteers at the shelter, told NPR that she hopes that the project taught her students that “they can do anything,” even if they are only seven or eight years old.

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