‘We Love Animals’: Local Girl Scouts Buy Materials for New Fence at Shelter

Asked about what spurred Girl Scouts Troop 198 to purchase the materials needed to enclose an area at the New Canaan Animal Shelter with a chain link fence, NCHS freshman Amanda Hill has a ready answer: “We love animals.”

Girl Scouts Troop 198, L-R: Emily Gaeta, Amanda Hill, Animal Control Officer Maryann Kleinschmitt, Celia Sokolowski, Caroline Cioffi and Katie Unger. The group is standing in front of a fence whose materials were purchased by the Girl Scouts in order to create a training and outdoor meet-and-greet “pen” for pets at the Animal Shelter. Credit: Michael Dinan

That love drove Hill and her fellow Girl Scouts to purchase a dryer for the shelter last year, so that the dogs and cats could get dried off immediately after returning to the Lakeview Avenue shelter—say, after Kleinschmitt or a member of her staff took them for a quick, leashed walk.

But when she’d take them for those walks, Kleinschmitt “always had to take them far around and by the dump and couldn’t really train them, because they always had to be on leashes,” Hill said on a recent afternoon and she and other members of Troop 198 gathered with Kleinschmitt in front of the fence, recently installed at the Lakeview Avenue shelter with the help of the New Canaan Department of Public Works.

“So we thought if we gave her an outdoor area, she would be able to walk and train the dogs,” Hill said.

For Kleinschmitt, the fence not only delivers new functionality to the shelter, but also enhances its aesthetics—creating an even nicer place for prospective parents to adopt the lost or abandoned pets that end up there.

“First of all, we can put plants in front of here and it will look nicer for people who are coming either to pick up their dogs or for people who want to adopt a dog,” said Kleinschmitt, who will retire at the end of September.

“This will be a wonderful place for people, where a dog doesn’t have to be on a leash and they can have a meet-and-greet.”

And for training purposes, having a secure, outdoor space offers a better area for dogs who may have more distractions.

“When you are inside a building, a dog is going to react differently than when it’s outside,” Kleinschmitt said. “Here, he’s got a little bit of freedom. He’s going to understand commands a little bit better and have more of a rapport with a trainer.”

The girls—all of them NCHS freshmen as of last week—raised the money for the fencing through a bake sale at Saxe Middle School and also put out a donation box for the shelter when selling cookies, Hill said.

According to Lisa Gaeta, who has helped lead the troop, together with Donna Hill and Dede Beck, a future project at the shelter may include painting a mural on the walls that flank the newly created “pen” outside.

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