Paw Pals Academy seeking applicants for summer program

Do you have a child who is going into sixth grade in your family who is also an animal lover? The Burleson Animal Shelter is hosting their tenth annual Paw Pals summer program which teaches curious children more about dogs, reptiles and even chickens.

The four-week, hour and a half course is taught by local veterinarians, outreach groups and animal shelter staff. Kim Peckler, manager of the Burleson Animal Shelter, said the goal of Paw Pals is to educate children about animals.

“We find that a lot of kids may know a little bit about dogs, or cats, but they don’t know why they need vaccinations and they don’t know why they need heart worm preventative,” Peckler said.

Additionally, the class teaches children about the responsibility of owning a pet. Teaching children from a young age how to properly care for an animal can help curtail the number of shelters, Peckler said.

“Owning a dog is not just putting it in the backyard and feeding it,” Peckler said. “They’re becoming family and in Texas, they’re actually property, so the kids get to learn all this stuff that they need to help their parents take care of them. From taking their pet to the veterinarian, to getting their shots, so we hope to make them more responsible pet owners.”

Peckler said this program is also ideal for children who are thinking about a career as a veterinarian or some other role in the care of animals when they grow up.

“We have veterinarians come in and tell them what’s it’s like to be on the job,” she said. “A lot of kids also don’t realize that you have to volunteer with an organization that works with animals before you can be accepted into vet school. You also have to make straight A’s, and I think it’s important to instill this in children from a young age.”

Moreover, children don’t realize that you can work with animals without being a veterinarian, Peckler said. The field of animal work is wide and children can learn about exciting careers as animal control, professional grooming and training.

The class also teaches children empathy for animals, especially the slithery ones, Peckler said.

“We have an organization called Wildlife on the Move come in that teaches the kids that not all snakes are bad,” she said. “It’s actually good to have a rat snake around because they eat mice and rats, which carry diseases. There’s really no reason to kill most snakes, and kids don’t often get to hear that.”

Paw Pals begins June 2 with DFW Funny Business, a group that will bring 20 farm animals for children to handle and learn about the different animals. Week two, June 16, will feature Burleson Small Animal Clinic Dr. Nicole Winquest and Melissa Stiles, who will be talking about health care, vaccines and have hands-on activities for the children, such as listening to  an animal’s heartbeat, lungs and more. Week three, June 23, will bring Wildlife on the Move who specializes in snakes, turtles and cool, cold-blooded critters. Week four is graduation day. Children will receive certificates and have their photo taken.

To apply for Paw Pals, visit and download the application. Applicants must turn in their application and essay by April 2. Those chosen for the course will be notified by May 12.

Burleson Star

327 N.W. Renfro St.
PO Box 909
Burleson, TX 76028-0909

Phone: 817-295-0486
FAX: 817-295-5278