ARTICLE FROM THE STAR TELEGRAM
By Patsy Miller
Special to Burleson-Crowley-Cleburne UPClose
Posted Friday, March 12, 2010
A reading assignment on the plight of homeless dogs turned into a life lesson for students at Joshua’s Plum Creek Elementary.
Last year specialty teacher Karrla Whitworth assigned her class of second through sixth graders a story on helping animals in need. “The students were unaware that homeless dogs are sometimes killed in shelters and they asked if there was a place where this didn’t happen,” Whitworth explained.
She told them about Home At Last Animal Haven (HALAH) near Godley, a no-kill rescue shelter. That set in motion a friendship that the entire school has embraced.
HALAH was founded by Norm and Joy Yadon in 1976 when they moved to the country. They soon started taking in stray dogs and trying to find homes. In 1991 HALAH became a non-profit organization. Daughter Debye Yadon Humphrey and son Court Yadon always helped out, but with their parents’ deaths, they inherited not only 20 acres, but the dogs as well. They never missed a beat.
The outdoor facility currently is at capacity with 70 dogs. The Web site www.halah.org has photos of dogs available for adoption and on the third Sunday of every month the Burleson PetSmart sponsors HALAH dogs at its in-store adoptions. At HALAH, adoptions are normally held weekends from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. or by appointment.
“My parents came up with the name, and realistically, we have some dogs that won’t be adopted. They will live out their lives in a happy place; the dogs are truly home at last” said Debye Humphrey.
When it came time for the class field trip, HALAH won hands down.
Once Whitworth’s class heard about HALAH, they wanted to know all about the facility and how they could help. “We put pickle jars throughout the school and in two weeks we raised almost $400. We found out HALAH needed small children’s swimming pools (for the dogs) and we bought 14. We gave the rest in cash to buy other things they needed,” said Whitworth.
“We had 15 kids running around with the dogs. We all had the best time,” she added.
So much fun that at the beginning of the new school year, the students were asking how to help HALAH this year and when was the next field trip. That’s how Whitworth came up with Tip Your Hat Day.
Each month students can donate a dollar which allows them to wear a hat to school on a designated Friday. So far this school year, the students have raised nearly $350.
The relationship with Plum Creek Elementary is something special to Debye Humphrey. She sends monthly thank you letters to the school with pictures of the dogs. They are displayed on the classroom data projectors. From that first visit, some children and parents have volunteered and adopted dogs.
“The pools they brought were wonderful. We have lots of water-loving dogs. With the Tip Your Hat money we bought a cart to transport food and two dogloos,” said Humphrey.
What are HALAH special needs?
“Money is probably the best donation. We have a lot of vet bills and we prefer to spay or neuter before we put them up for adoption. We can always use dog houses, leashes, and collars – they don’t have to be new,” Humphrey explained. One supporter has asked that friends bring dog food as gifts for her 50th birthday.
“This has been an awesome project and reminds the students of the ongoing plight of homeless dogs. It has also been a wonderful teaching tool. They learned about this need by reading a story; reading has real-life connections”, said Whitworth.