DARLINGTON COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - A high school senior is making a big difference for animals needing a second chance at life.
She said she came up with the idea after a Girl Scout trip to Columbia. She mentored with a dog trainer so she could learn basic skills to bring back to her local animal shelter, the Darlington County Animal Shelter. Then, she received the prestigious Girl Scout Gold Award for her efforts.
"So I went to Columbia, and one of the Girl Scout directors said she wished she had someone to train her dog. I figured, ‘What can I do with that information and put it to what I was passionate about?’ So I figured Canine Shelter Stars because it gives a basic foundation to shelter dogs, because the shelter dogs, when they go to their adopter’s home, they don’t know the environment. It really gives them a foundation where the adopters can have that foundation and be like, ‘Oh I know this, I can do this,’ Ashley Boone said.
The Hartsville High School senior has been volunteering at animal shelters the past seven years, spending most of her time recently at the Darlington County Animal Shelter.
“I come here every Thursday and Sunday. They’re not open Sunday, but I can come here and train,” Boone explained of her dedication.
Boone is trading a lot of Girl Scout cookies for treats for her Canine Shelter Stars training program she began at the shelter.
She said the shelter has had issues with dogs being returned and she wanted to do something to fix it.
Boone explained in 2018 the shelter had a problem. She said 93 of the 360 adopted dogs were returned. So, Boone took dogs out of the kennels to learn what they’ve never been taught, hoping they graduate into their forever homes. She teaches basic leash skills and commands like sit and stay.
“This year we had less dogs get returned than we did last year because of my program," Boone said.
The Girl Scouts of Eastern South Carolina have recognized her for her efforts.
On its website it reads:
“Ashley has spent more than 140 hours creating a training program for shelter dogs to help them get adopted and remain successfully placed with their adopted family. During the research period of her project, Ashley discovered that almost 3.2 million animals are adopted each year but 1.6 million dogs are surrendered back to the animal shelter, and over 2.7 million dogs are euthanized because so many are surrendered and brought back, mostly because of behavior issues. In 2018, Darlington County Humane Society adopted out 360 dogs, but had 93 of those dogs surrendered back to the shelter.”
“I hope that people understand these dogs have potential. These dogs are not just nobodies,” Boone said.
She said two of her dogs have gone on to become service dogs, something she’s proud of. Thirty have been successfully adopted. She hopes to attend Francis Marion University in the fall.
Great job, Ashley!