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Bar mitzvah projects

Four legs good will

Community Newspaper Group

Photo gallery

Pixie, take two.

Palm-sized puppies, basset hounds on the loose, dachshunds in hot dog buns, and an R&R-loving chocolate lab all have two things in common — they’re canine and cute. In fact, all dogs are pretty darn adorable. They’re embodiments of love wrapped up in a soft coat of “aw!” Their sweet temperments make us feel like their sole purpose in life is to make us smile.

Return the favor and get tails wagging by helping out small, pet rescues like Larchmont New York’s aptly named Pet Rescue. Organizations like this are not shelters. They provide foster homes for dogs and cats until the cuddly critters find permanent places to play and purr. And you can see some of the recently adopted cuties in the slideshow above!

“We also pull animals out of high-kill shelters, go down south and bring up 30 or 40 dogs from facilities that lack space, and ‘trap, neuter, and release’ cats, which means we go in to feral cat colonies, treat them medically, and then release them back to the colony,” says one of the non-profits most active volunteers and foster home-provider, Paula Krenkel. “We also go into shelters that are in bad condition and help make their facilities more humane.”

So, how can an animal-loving, soon-to-be bar or bat mitzvahs help with a mitzvah project? Here’s a few ways:

• Get organized

Learn about the plight of stray animals and get your peers involved by starting an afterschool program.

“Some kids will start clubs,” says Krenkel. “They learn about animal rights and protection and start letter-writing campaigns.”

• Raise funds

Non-profit organizations like Pet Rescue rely on donations in order to do their good work. Volunteers fostering strays need money in order to buy supplies. Some creative fund-raising ideas include a “dog wash” (instead of a car wash), a doggie bake sale where treats can be consumed by dogs and humans, and a walk-a-thon for people and their pups.

“One boy sold water at his soccer game and raised $300,” says Krenkel. You can also create a costumized donation webpage in conjunction with your bar or bat mitzvah. Contact Pet Rescue (or a local rescue in your city) to get more information.

• Collect goods

Instead of raising money, you can gather supplies like blankets, toys, and food. A great way of doing this is by having a can food drive for cats and dogs at your synagogue.

• Help out at a foster home

Some foster homes allow young adults to come over (with a parent or guardian) and help out.

“They can walk the dogs and play with the puppies,” says Krenkel. Yet, being that most foster homes are peoples’ actual homes, make sure to ask a rescue organization what foster families are open to outside help.

• Adopt a dog

This is a decision that needs to be agreed upon by the bar or bat mitzvah and his or her parents, but adopting a dog or cat is the best way to help the cause. Taking care of an animal can enrich the lives of many young adults, teaching them valuable lessons about responsibility, which, essentially, are the same lessons you’ll learn by becoming a bar or bat mitzvah. Check out Pet Rescue’s weekly adoption events or contact your local Humane Society or PetSmart location to find out more.

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