Pet Parade helps reward youths who bestowed gifts to pets (Video)

Dec. 17, 2011 at 6:17 a.m.
Updated Dec. 18, 2011 at 6:18 a.m.

Rylee Tipton and Madison Wood enthusiastically greet Charlie, the mascot of the Dorothy O'Connor Pet Adoption Center.

Rylee Tipton and Madison Wood enthusiastically greet Charlie, the mascot of the Dorothy O'Connor Pet Adoption Center.

One by one, students at Aloe Elementary School were slopped with sweet puppy dog kisses Wednesday morning.

Charlie, Dorothy O'Connor Pet Adoption Center's beagle and Australian shepherd mascot, lapped on the licks while leading a parade of his canine companions.

The pets, decked out in Christmas-colored collars and festive sweaters, were making the rounds to schools to say thanks for the Christmas presents students donated to the animal shelter.

"They've given to us, and we love to give back," said Sally Kuecker, executive director at the adoption center. "We're bringing the shelter to them."

This year, 18 campuses in the Victoria school district gave to the center's Presents for Pets fundraiser.

On Wednesday, the kids saw the perky pups their donations would benefit.

Besides Charlie and his mascot apprentice, Panda, two friends of the shelter joined the parade through little arms reaching out for hugs. The rest of the doggie crew are still looking for homes.

If the constant giggles and grins were any indication, the orphan animals made a good first impression on their new student friends.

After wiping away Charlie's slobber from their cheeks, two fifth-graders said they would follow Kuecker's charge to make a big Christmas wish on behalf of the dogs. They wished the pups would find a home.

"The dogs have to have food and eat and stuff," Kyndall Richardson, 10, said.

"And they would have to have love from parents," her friend, Avery Aleman, 10, added.

They were on a roll before Kyndall added one more reason to wish for Christmas homes for the dogs.

"And toys to play with," she said.

The dogs may not have had a permanent family yet, but they'd get the food and toys and plenty of love on Wednesday.

At the end of the parade through the halls of Aloe Elementary, a few of the pups found a quick resting spot. They sniffed out the box of treats that would be heading home with them and perched on some new dog beds donated by the school.

Charlie took a breather before heading off to another school to give more kisses.

"He doesn't miss a lick," Kuecker said.



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