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Students with perfect attendance spent time with canine guests

For animal lovers, pets are a great way to de-stress from the day’s events.

Offering a break time that allows students 45 minutes to spend with four dogs from the Pearl River County SPCA and two others owned by an SPCA volunteer was also a great way to build attendance at Pearl River Central High School.

“I’m crying….. because they’re so cute,” said PRC student Elana Inge after seeing the dogs Monday morning.

Saron Henderson, a counselor at PRC High, said the event was a reward for the students who had perfect attendance over the past two weeks. It’s all part of a new program in the Pearl River County School District to boost attendance during the year, which helps ensure the Mississippi Department of Education provides the most funding possible.

Last month, the students who had perfect attendance in the applicable two-week period received a morning meal. And in late October, the students with perfect attendance during the two weeks prior got to participate in a Halloween party, Henderson said.

Ali Dore, a student at PRC High, said of all the rewards issued so far for perfect attendance, Monday’s was her favorite.

Monday’s event allowed students to leave class early and cuddle with pups, which drew a lot of expression on the faces of the canines who reveled in the additional attention.

Students also got a chance to sign up to volunteer at the local shelter during Monday’s event. Henderson said that the volunteer hours at the shelter could help the students meet the requirements of an honor society, or be included in their applications for college scholarships.

SPCA volunteer Rhonda Furby brought two of her own dogs to the event. She said she is working with staff at the school to develop a newsletter to teach the students the proper methods to care for pets, especially dogs who are often left outside in the cold. Her hope is that the newsletter will also teach parents and students that dogs are not belongings, but rather a part of the family. As such, when it’s cold outside, pet owners should consider their dog’s feelings.

“They are part of the family and don’t want to be out on a chain; they want to be with their families,” Furby said.

In all, six dogs paid a visit to PRC High School, including Furby’s family members. Of the remaining four, which were staying at the local shelter, three were transported to shelters up north to find forever homes just after Monday’s event. Sarah, the shepherd mix who the children gathered around Monday morning, is still available for adoption at the shelter, located at 1700 Palestine Road, Picayune.