When Rocky was brought into the Felix Varela High School animal shelter three months ago, adoption seemed out of the question.
The 5-year-old shih tzu mix was full of ticks and without any fur.
But after six hours of tick removal and countless hours of rehabilitation, he now has a full coat of light brown fur and is prepared for adoption.
Rocky is now one of almost 100 dogs that the school will have at their pet adoption event from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday on campus, 15255 SW 96th St
Felix Varela has an animal shelter run by students in the veterinary science magnet program.
Due to recent mandates, the school has to reduce their amount of dogs by about 50.
“Now the kids in the program are seeing first hand just how much overpopulation of pets there are in South Florida,” said Yleana Escobar, the teacher in charge of the magnet program.
At the event, adoption fees will be $250 for mixed breeds, more for pure breeds. That includes all vaccinations, a microchip, spaying or neutering, deworming, and a heartworm check.
Felix Varela High has had a veterinary magnet program for almost 10 years and focuses on giving students the skills that a veterinary assistant would have.
“I chose to come to Varela because I knew from others that their vet program was amazing,” said Chris Kaiser, a freshman at the school. “Instead of being treating like a 15-year-old, I’m being taught concepts that veterinary science students don’t learn until college.”
The program focuses on teaching students first-hand about restraint, behavior management, and how to administer and interpret a physical and fecal exam.
“I love that instead of reading from a textbook, I actually get to work with the animals and see their natural responses when I’m working on them,” said Destinee Valenti, a freshman at Varela.
The school also has a barn area with horses, pigs, lamb, goats, and sheep.
“When the program started, I made sure to have shelter dogs because I knew it would be mutually beneficial for the community, the students, and the dogs,” said Escobar.
Some students not only work within the school seven days a week, but also commit their Saturdays to volunteering with Friends Forever Humane Society.
Friends Forever hosts an adoption every Saturday at a PetSmart store with student volunteers.
“The kids from Felix Varela are so dedicated to getting these animals adopted,” said Dee Chess, founder of Friends Forever. “The students are at school and helping out rain or shine every day.”
For the adoption day, smaller dogs will be placed at PetSmart and medium to large dogs will remain on campus.
“We really want our dogs to get adopted by a person that can invest the care they deserve,” said Escobar. “Hopefully, we can find the perfect fit for our dogs and continue to help others.”