Animals With Our Love (AWOL) is always in need of volunteers who help with everything from feeding the animals to cleaning the facility. Nine ICC West Vet Tech students are going the extra mile and assisting AWOL in the care of nine puppies and their mom who came into the facility under distress.

Student Courtney Ryan explained how they learned of the project. “Dr. Dutton came and proposed an idea to us about taking care of some puppies who were just born from AWOL,” she said. “She asked us, ‘Would you guys be interested in helping these puppies?’ We were all like, ‘Yes, because it’s puppies.’ The pups came in, there was nine of them, and ever since then we have been just taking care of them, taken them under our wing.”

Ryan said it’s a lot of work but the entire class has enjoyed it. “We’ve watched them grow and they are getting really close to being adopted out,” she said.

Carly Cole, student, explained they are housing the mom as well. “She was not doing well at AWOL and they told us she was just getting really stressed out and that is why they asked if we could take her because we had a quiet environment for her,” explained Cole. “We have helped keep them just where they could grow and not get stressed out.”

The class has been feeding the mother so she can feed her pups, they play with her and the puppies and they socialize them to they will be ready for their forever homes. “We help [the mom] socialize, too so she gets some time too because being a mom is hard work,” Ryan stated.

Jayme Cannon-Oliver, student, said, “We have been socializing with the pups a lot lately since they are getting older. We have enough room to socialize with them and we have enough kennels to move them into and separate them and start working on their personalities.”

Cole added with a chuckle, “Sometimes we bring the puppies to class and socialize them here.” They have also been working with the pups to teach them to be a little more calm and have manners. “So we can get them adopted out as soon as possible,” she said.

A daily routine has been established for the students and their pups. “We come in early and let the puppies outside and let them go potty,” explained Cannon-Oliver. “Then we clean the pens and put food and water in their bowl.” Ryan added, “Throughout the day we will get them out and socialize with them.”

“Sometimes we even take them outside to play,” said Cole.

The students tried not to do it but they have named a few of the pups but they don’t want to get too attached as the pups will be going to forever homes in the next month or so. “There are only two boys and the one boy — he has a green collar — he is kind of calm so I named him Henry,” stated Ryan. “He just seemed like a Henry.”

The pups each have their own color collars so the students just call them by their collar color. They said the pups can be sassy and their mother is kind of hyper but they are sweet and loving pups who will make wonderful pets for any family seeking a new family member.

The pups, who are nearly six weeks, will be ready for adoption in a few weeks but until then the vet tech students are working to get them ready. The pups have had no health problems despite their shaky entrance into the world. “No problems, they are really good,” said Ryan. “Their mom is actually sweet, her name is Babe. They have all grown really well, even the runt, she is big and chubby — they are all so chubby.”

Helping with the pups from AWOL not only gives the students an education but it gives them a sense of helping their community and giving back. “I enjoy it because my passion is to help animals so whenever I see something I can help with and there is a need then I want to be able to fill that,” said Ryan. “I feel like we are doing a very good job and most of us are putting in a lot of time and effort into this. It’s a good profit from it — we see the outcome. They are growing and they are wanting to play so we can tell we have done a good job.”

“We get the good experience, too,” added Cole. “If you are out in a clinic you are going to deal with a lot of puppies so it helps you to learn how to handle them, especially with hyper puppies.”

“Not too many people have been around puppies from when they are almost newborn until almost grown up,” said Cannon-Oliver. “We get to see all the fun phases and who they act, how momma is. And plus with school, they are like a stress reliever.”

The students were all emphatic that if the chance to help again comes up they are all in as the experience has been one-of-a-kind. “We get to help the community out and we get to help AWOL,” said Cole.

To look into adopting one of the pups when they are available, go by the AWOL facility during operating hours, 116 S. 23rd St. or call , (620) 331-7931. Hours are Monday through Friday, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.