Each year, thousands of people crowd the downtown area of Shreveport, La., for the Red River Revel festival.
It is an outdoor arts event that my daughter and I attended with her Pre-K class. As I helped chaperone the field trip, we stopped to watch a presentation done by a group that focuses on pet care. They aim to educate people of all ages, but mostly kids.
To many people, pets are more than companions. They act as children, siblings and best friends to those who consider their pets a part of their families.
Photo credit: Lukas Vermeer on Flickr.
The Pet Education Project , also called PEP for short, is an education and outreach program that visits schools and youth organizations to teach the importance of responsible pet ownership. They organize food drives and offer free PEP talks to schools and youth organizations seven days a week.
Since launching the organization in 2009, Executive Director Erica Callais has started a Saturday morning radio show on KSCL 91.3FM. But that’s not all. Under Callais’ leadership, PEP is now in the process of creating a children’s television show about pet care.
This is a dream-come-true for Callais, who always wanted to help animals. Prior to her role at PEP, she volunteered at a local animal shelter. There, she witnessed many families, with children, dropping off their pets because they could not longer care for them. Every time Callais performs a PEP Talk with the other dedicated volunteers, she remembers the animals from the shelter that had been brought in mistreated and the children that had to lose their friends. The work load may be hectic and the hours can be long, but it’s the drive that she and everyone associated with PEP have that keeps them going to schools, conducting various community activities like food drives for pets and pet owners, and doing everything else possible to truly make a change.
After each PEP talk, children are awarded prizes and pet supplies, some of which costs between $5 and $10. Although PEP is supported by donations alone, sometimes Callais and her team members spend their own money to fund the organization. They have, however, partnered with Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers to sell stuffed puppies. It is the organization’s first big fundraiser.
Being that Pet Education project is still in its early years, the sky is truly the limit for them. If they keep it up, that’s exactly where they’re headed. They are really making huge strides here in the Shreveport/Bossier area. With the way things are nowadays, our pets are being left by the wayside for two main reasons: some wish that they didn’t have to leave their pets, but don’t have a choice; others just don’t want their pets anymore. Either way, pets needs our help and need to be reassured, just like humans, that someone loves them and that everything is going to be alright. Just because they’re not homosapiens doesn’t mean that they don’t feel and don’t deserve proper love and care.
This post is one in a series about community action in Shreveport, Louisiana.