A pair of Semiahmoo Secondary students have taken a dogged approach to a year-end assignment – and Francis Lee-Meyer and Alijah Sigmund hope the end result of their effort will be better lives for rescued Siberian huskies.
The teens, in Grade 11, launched a GoFundMe campaign this month in response to the challenge posed by their social-justice teacher.
As of Monday (April 22), $360 had been raised for Danielle’s husky’s to the Rescue. The teens have their sights set on raising at least $1,000.
“She rescues huskies from high-kill shelters in California,” Lee-Meyer said last week, of Burnaby resident Danielle Callaghan.
“She spends all her money to helping them.”
The teens were inspired to help the rescue organization after learning about the dogs through Amanda Ghilarducci, a learning support assistant at Semi who adopted her husky, Beau, from Danielle’s, and has often shared photos and updates about the two-year-old dog with the students.
“They feel like they know him,” Ghilarducci said.
“My phone is full of photos and I talk to them about him all the time.”
Ghilarducci said she “fell in love with the breed” about five years ago, after rescuing her first husky, Breeze, from the SPCA. She learned about Callaghan’s organization while searching for a ‘sibling’ for Breeze.
While she and her husband had to forego that quest after discovering past abuse had rendered Breeze’s temperament incompatible with other dogs, Ghilarducci returned to Callaghan’s organization after Breeze developed a mass in her heart and had to be euthanized.
“Our house was so empty without a dog,” Ghilarducci said.
They’ve had Beau for about six months now.
Lee-Meyer is no stranger to having a dog – his family owns a year-old Rottweiler-blue heeler cross. Ollie is “helping me get off my screen more,” Lee-Meyer said.
Both he and Sigmund share a love for dogs and want to do what they can to benefit animal rights and quash animal cruelty.
“They’re living beings, they have emotions and they feel pain, the same way we do, (and) they should be treated the same way,” Lee-Meyer said.
“I think of dogs as like humans,” Sigmund said, adding it’s “not right” to put them in high-kill shelters.
In addition to funds, Sigmund and Lee-Meyer are collecting dog toys, treats, collars and other items for the rescue organization.
Ghilarducci said word of the students’ quest brought tears to Callaghan’s eyes. Lee-Meyer and Sigmund said they are considering other events that could bolster the campaign, which is continuing until about mid-June.