While this story is a bit old, I feel there’s never a bad time to share a happy ending, especially when it involves young people helping animals. It’s a story about an ingenious shop teacher who taught his students a valuable skill, while at the same time helping cats and dogs stay warm and dry from the elements.
Barry Stewart has worked as a shop teacher at the Career Center in North Carolina since 2002. One day he came across Forsyth County Animal Control’s Houses for Hounds program, a local project supported by a variety of animal welfare groups for the purpose of providing free dog houses to lower income Forsyth County residents and to pet shelters.
Barry saw a way of fulfilling a community need while at the same time teaching his students how to build. In an interview with People back in February 2016, Barry stated
“The framing technique and terminology for pet housing is the same as for a regular house. The floor system, wall system, roof system and all the actual parts are identical. So, every part we use on the pet houses we can reference to the correlating part in the home. I realized that it would be easy enough to work into what we were doing in the classroom. It was a good fit.”
The students learn to build using tools and even demonstrated critical skills after changes to the first batch of pet houses were completed. They quickly learned the houses needed doors placed to the side instead of center-placed. They added two-inch lips to the entryway floors to prevent dogs from dragging their bedding outside and that pitched roofs worked better than metal roofs at trapping heat during the winter chill.
Feral cat homes were built with removable rooftops to make them easier for caretakers to clean the houses and to catch the kittens when they were ready for spay/neuter or when one needed to see a vet.
Barry, you and your students are the best! You saw a need in your community and fulfilled that need. Your students could also earn some money selling the houses they build in their spare time outside of the Houses for Hounds program, a valuable skill in this economy.