HEROES: Newport News, Virginia, Students Are Changing the World for Dogs in Need

Here at TeachKind, we want all dogs to live indoors with their families. But PETA works in areas where many people are unfamiliar with the concept of allowing them to do so and where the law allows owners to keep dogs chained outdoors around the clock.

That’s why PETA puts together and gives away sturdy, custom-built wooden doghouses filled with straw bedding for dogs whose owners won’t let them live indoors and won’t relinquish them to caring people who would. These doghouses provide dogs with years of protection from snow, rain, harsh winds, and the blazing-hot summer sun.

And over the past year, students in Newport News, Virginia, have been going above and beyond to support PETA’s efforts to help animals and make a lifesaving difference for the “backyard dogs” in their community. We have not one but two inspiring examples of teens helping animals locally.

In June, a group of middle school students from Newport News visited PETA’s Norfolk office to help paint wooden doghouses.

TeachKind hosted the four students for a day of fun and educational activities to supplement their volunteer hours. The youth group that they’re a part of had recently assembled and decorated some wooden doghouses for PETA, but these students wanted to take things a step further—so they came to help paint a few more.

The day began with a tour of the office and a peek inside one of PETA’s mobile clinics (which spay and neuter hundreds of companion animals every week in Southeastern Virginia) as well as a presentation from TeachKind staff members on the importance of making kind choices for animals. These activities were followed by a delicious lunch of vegan pepperoni pizza and vegan ice cream sandwiches.

Then the students headed out to start painting the custom doghouses. Check out this video of the group in action, filmed at PETA’s Norfolk office:


They came armed with many clever, creative ideas—like this “Starbarks” theme:

Some of the quotes they emblazoned on the doghouses will bring a tear to your eye: “A dog is one of the few things in life that is … as it seems.”

Another one says, “Dogs do speak, but only to those who listen.” These compassionate kids are wise beyond their years.

Thankfully, the dogs who receive these much-needed doghouses will have a bit of respite from the elements—and it might just save their lives. And thanks to these creative and compassionate students, when the dogs’ owners see how much care and thought went into custom-painting these cheerful and colorful doghouses, they might just be inspired to put a little extra kindness and effort into taking care of their animals, too.

In May 2018, a group of Newport News high school students snagged Hero to Animals awards from PETA for their volunteer work.

When a group of 13 high school students in Newport News, Virginia, heard about the lonely “backyard dogs” who PETA helps, they came together to lend a helping hand to improve these animals’ lives.

PETA provided the students with doghouse building plans, and these compassionate 10th graders built two of them for our fieldworkers to deliver to dogs in need. 🙌❤

One of the recipients, Oreo, had only a plastic barrel for shelter before PETA replaced it with a proper wooden house built by the students.

Another “backyard dog” named Remy also received a free doghouse, thanks to them.

The students even wrote messages inside the doghouses, like “Bless the dog in this house with warmth and peace,” and “May this house keep you safe and dry.” 😭

For a pup, living outside (even with adequate shelter) is no substitute for living inside as part of the family and being able to snuggle next to his or her guardians—but having a doghouse can make a world of difference to a dog who previously had nowhere to escape from the scorching sun or cold winds. 

To thank them for their efforts, PETA’s youth department sent each of the 13 students a Hero to Animals award for their compassion and dedication to improving the lives of Oreo and Remy. 🐶

Shout-out to: Daniel Driscoll, Jessica Eanes, Cathryn Harned, Andrew Nguyen, Alan Nguyen, Robert Santillan, Christian Skrypski, Zachary Trias, Sarah Washburn, Anthony Rivera, Jacob Race, Joshua Stuck, and Zachary McKinley. ✋🏆

For a pup, living outdoors (even with adequate shelter) is no substitute for living indoors as part of the family and being able to snuggle next to his or her guardians—but having a doghouse can make a world of difference to one who previously had nowhere to escape from the scorching sun or cold winds.

When you see someone who needs help, take action. Use YOUR voice to help him or her. Get tips on handling animal emergencies, and make sure you do your best to prevent living beings from suffering. ♥

Want to get involved? You can help support PETA’s efforts to provide dogs in need with sturdy doghouses from anywhere in the country by hosting a free “Change for Chained Dogs” fundraiser in your classroom! Your students will be able to raise money that will go directly toward funding the lifesaving doghouses that our fieldworkers deliver at no cost to dogs’ owners.

Get More Info and Order a Free ‘Change for Chained Dogs’ Fundraising Pack Today!

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind