Responding to an overwhelming number of cats and dogs pouring into animal shelters, two local animal rescue groups are hosting summer camps to teach kids about the importance of animal safety and pet care.
Kitty City pet rescue and adoption center, on Union Street South in Concord, and the Humane Society of Concord and Greater Cabarrus County will host camps that will give kids hands-on opportunities to learn about animals.
Talking to a group of campers recently, Patsy Beeker, director of Kitty City, explained that about 80 percent of dog bite victims are younger than 14 years old. Children like to run and play, which entices dogs, she said.
She said that if children are ever attacked by a dog, they should drop to the ground and protect their face and neck with their arms.
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Beeker brought out her own dog, Sully, to demonstrate.
Madison Pigg, 7, of Charlotte positioned herself on the floor, her hands held tightly over her head. Then Beeker gave the command.
Sully sauntered over and sniffed at Madison before flopping on his back to await a rub.
"So much for a demonstration," said Beeker, laughing.
At one of Kitty City's camps in June, Madison cooked pet treats and learned how to cut cats' nails and give them baths.
She also created a computer presentation about Diana, a cat that has been in Kitty City's shelter for a year. She hopes the presentation will help get her adopted, she said.
Beeker said she's turned away hundreds of cats recently as kitten season hit Cabarrus County. Her kennels are full.
"We're trying to teach kids that taking on a pet is a lifetime responsibility," said Beeker. "It's not over after six months when they're not cute anymore."
Camp volunteers are also trying to reach out to children to teach them the importance of spaying and neutering their animals, which is essential to decreasing the population of unwanted animals, said Beeker.
"Adoption isn't the way out," she said. "Education and sterilization is the only option."
The Humane Society of Concord and Greater Cabarrus County will also host a camp for kids for the first time this summer. The Kids4Pets Animal Camp will be held July 25-29 for second-grade through 12th-grade students.
The camp is $75, or $60 for members of the Humane Society's Kids4Pets Club.
Participants in the Kids4Pets camp will learn basic animal care and work with the shelter animals. They'll also participate in sessions with animal control officers, veterinarians and an animal obedience trainer and take a tour of a local veterinary clinic.
Kitty City's camps began in June and will continue through early August. The three- or four-day camps are $100 or $125, depending on the camp.
Scheduled for July 26-28 is an advanced animal care camp in which participants ages 14-18 will learn how do everything from bottle feeding kittens and puppies to giving pet CPR.
Judy Sims, CEO of the local Humane Society, said the organization plans to make the camp an annual event.
"A love for animals begins as a child," she said.