DAWGS (Dalbart Animal Welfare Group and Shelter) is the only animal sanctuary in the country founded and run by elementary school children.
DAWGS is located in the Texas Panhandle, where the weather poses a constant challenge. From torrential rains and powerful windstorms to blizzards and frigid temperatures, the children endured extreme elements while caring for more than 500 animals daily.
With a heritage steeped in cattle ranching and farming, Dalhart’s social climate wasn’t receptive to the idea of a shelter dedicated to saving animals, let alone one run by kids. Despite of verbal threats, break-ins at the shelter, and harsh criticism from city officials, the children’s resolve to sustain a no-kill animal sanctuary remained intact - and has lasted over 15 years.
Many of the children who volunteer at the shelter come from dysfunctional and broken homes themselves. Their teacher, Diane Trull, and her husband Mark served as mentors to the children, which is a key part of DAWGS’ mission. The sanctuary has always been as much about the children as the dogs.
The children who founded the shelter were flown to Chicago as guests of Oprah Winfrey. They met Oprah and filmed a segment for her show. Sadly, the segment did not air. It was bumped by a breaking news story.
Once the shelter opened in 2003, Dalhart became a no-kill town virtually overnight. To date DAWGS has saved the lives of thousands of animals.
“Inspiring and passionate, this heart-stopping story tells how a teacher and her fourth grade students became a force for good - one dog at a time. Every town needs a hero like Diane Trull, and a sanctuary like Dawgs. This book is a reminder that, regardless of age, we all have the power to enhance the lives of animals, and make world a better place. Diane Trull and her class of nine year-olds put the humane back in humanity.”
—Helen Brown, New York Times bestselling author of CLEO, BONO, and JONAH
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