"This is Rocky and he came to us from Valencia County and he was in pretty rough shape," said Sara Garrigan from Watermelon Mountain Ranch, New Mexico's largest no-kill animal shelter. Garrigan visited Sundance Elementary School this week to collect the items students from Sundance Elementary School had donated. She brought along Rocky, a chihuahua and pug mix who was among 40 dogs rescued from being euthanized at the Valencia County Animal Shelter last year.
"Thank you so much for everything you donated," Garrigan told the students, who gathered inside the cafeteria for the presentation. From pet food to toys, snacks, and cleaning products, the third grade classes, a second grade class and a fifth grade class collected donations for several weeks to help homeless pets in need.
Garrigan used the opportunity to educate the students on properly caring for their pets.
"I fell in love with Rocky so when he recovered from his injuries, I adopted him," she said. "It's important to have your pets microchipped. 75-percent of lost pets never find their homes without it," she explained as she walked Rocky through the crowd.
"It's also very important to spay or neuter your pets. Did you know one male and one female can produce 50,000 cats?" she asked the students. "Because those two have cats, then those cats have cats, and so on and so on."
She went on to explain that many of these animals end up homeless.
"So when the ranch gets these pets they stay with us until they find their forever home. We have a cat right now that's been with us for several years," she said. "And we don't adopt animals to just anyone. We make sure they're going to a good home that's right for them."
"How many animals has the ranch saved?" one student asked Garrigan.
"100,000 since 1998 when we first opened," she answered. "And having a pet is a big responsibility. You have to walk or exercise them, bathe them, feed them, show them love," Garrigan said as the students pet Rocky.
As students gathered to say goodbye to Rocky and Garrigan, she said she is grateful for their generosity.
"Donation drives like this one help use our money for other expenses like medical treatments," Garrigan told them. "Give yourselves a pat on the back."
The collection filled the back seat and trunk of Garrigan's car.