Texas 4th Graders Pave the Way for 20,000 Rescued Animals to Find Homes

It started when Dalhart Animal Wellness Group and Shelter was founded by a teacher and her students in 2003.

It all started when one fourth grade teacher in Texas and her class wanted to help save a litter of puppies, and now 17 years later she is still helping animals with some of those same students.

Diane Trull started an animal shelter, Dalhart Animal Wellness Group and Shelter, also know as DAWGS N Texas, in 2003. Now, the shelter has helped more than 20,000 animals. Initially students in the class saw a litter of puppies that was going to be abandoned and didn’t understand why.

Alix Blanco, who was in Trull’s 4th grade class at the time, said she remembers how it all began.

“I think we all felt really sad that they didn’t find a home,” Blanco told Inside Edition Digital. “The next question we asked was, ‘Is there something we can do to save those animals?’ Then she advised us to go home, talk to our parents, see if there was a difference that we can make, especially in just our community, and that she would go home and talk to her husband and her family and we would all get a game plan. The next day we decided that starting a shelter.”

Sarah Smith and Sayde Casas, twins who were also in Trull's class at the time and still volunteer at the shelter, said it’s like life has come full circle.

“It has been 17 years since I was a fourth grader in Ms. Trull’s class, and we started this adventure…,” Smith said. “I look back now, and I see how life has come full circle, and how much DAWGS has impacted me, not only as a child, but as an adult.”

Another student who was in the 2003 class, Hannah Foster, said it fostered her love for helping the less fortunate.

“That extends outside of dogs, and into people as well, especially children,” she said.

Trull, who is no longer a teacher, still runs the organization, which is the only shelter in America founded and run by elementary school children. Part of their goal, outside of helping animals is to help children learn responsibility, commitment, and community service.

Since coronavirus has put a financial strain on the nation, it has impacted people’s ability to care for their pets as well.

“We have a huge amount of animals that need homes,” Trull said.