|Students Shape Animal Policy|
Seventh- and eighth-grade English-language-learners from Thurgood Marshall Middle School in Antioch, Tennessee, committed their We the People: Project Citizen efforts to improving local public policy on stray dogs.
The class was composed of eight students from countries as diverse as Colombia, Egypt, Guatemala, Iran, Laos, and Mexico; some have been in the United States for as little as two months. Students examined the issue from numerous angles—from public health to the fiscal strain placed on animal control agencies.
The class developed a survey, which determined that members of the community saw stray dogs as a problem. A number of city and state officials expressed concern and sought public policy solutions of their own.
State Representative Janis Sontany received the student questionnaire on stray dogs while working to push through legislation on the humane treatment of animals. At the invitation of the class, Sontany visited Thurgood Marshall Middle School to discuss her bills and share statistics.
City council members Phil Claiborne and Karen Bennett had proposed an increase in the fines and procedures for animal impoundment on a county level. The class began to follow the local legislation, keeping in touch with members online.
As local policymakers were already enacting action plan solutions, the experience became a hands-on civics lesson for the English-language-learners.
Through their close involvement, the class also had an effect on the details of the ordinance. In addition to overall fine increases, pet owners are assessed the cost of care for each day that an animal is housed by the city; $3.00 of each $18.00 fee will go directly toward an education program as suggested by the students.
Nashville mayor Karl Dean visited the Project Citizen students at Thurgood Marshall to sign the new city ordinance.