LYNNWOOD — It didn’t take too long for Anna Whitaker, 12, to convince her peers they should help out at Pasado’s Safe Haven.
The animal rescue shelter in Sultan has received national attention thanks to talk-show magnate Oprah Winfrey, but the team of 12- and 13-year-olds knew they didn’t have to be famous to make an impact.
“I imagined what it’d be like if my dog was abused,” Whitaker said. She showed peers pictures presented facts, choking up explaining it.
So seven students from Brighton School, a private school in Lynnwood, and their parents spent four hours on Jan. 8 painting cabins that house cats and dogs in the shelter’s Kitty City and Dog Towne.
Pasado’s Safe Haven offers 24-hour rescue and rehabilitation for dogs, cats and farm animals.
Stacie Martin, director of operations, spent the day with the students and decided on the age-appropriate project for the students.
Pasado’s focuses on fighting animal cruelty in addition to finding animals homes, Martin said.
“It’s a never-ending battle,” she said. The shelter is bursting with cats and they are in need of more volunteers.
“It’s hard to hear about animals being abused,” Whitaker said. “It makes me want to make a difference and I’m happy to be doing it.”
Sierra Noble, 13, said she’s proud of what she and her classmates are doing to help.
“It makes you feel sad, but it made us want to work there and help,” she said.
The service project was part of an annual competition, run by the nonprofit Destination ImagiNation, an extracurricular activity challenging students to solve written problems and present their solutions at regional and statewide tournaments.
Brighton’s middle school team took on the challenge Project Outreach where they had to research community needs, pick one and organize a volunteer project. Helping at Pasado’s met their goal of making a lasting impact.
Diana Noble, a parent volunteer, said the impact of hearing each animal’s story touched students and parents alike. Pasado’s staff explained most animals were abused by their owners, mainly in homes with domestic violence. They saw cats with clouded over eyes and a goat with an atrophied leg, the result of “hoof rot,” which could have easily been treated, Noble said. “It was heartbreaking,” she said.
Noble pointed out most of Brighton’s students are from well-to-do families and probably have not been exposed to these issues first-hand. That doesn’t mean they can’t help.
“They’re kids but they can pitch in and make a difference,” she said.