Most people only hear the barks, squeaks and squawks of animals, one local high school group is trying to listen a little harder.
Several Newport Harbor High School students want to speak out for pet and farm animals.
“We promote awareness about the treatment of animals,” said Newport Harbor High School (NHHS) junior Vanessa Deluna. “Not just domesticated pets, but farm animals as well.”
Deluna is a member of The Compassion In Action Club, a student-oriented, animal-advocacy organization on campus.
From dogs and cats to donkeys, horses, chickens and cows, it’s important to be compassionate toward all of them, Deluna said.
Most people know what’s acceptable treatment for pets like cats and dogs, said Deluna, who has her own pet dog, fish and two turtles, but most don’t know where the meat on their dinner plates came from or how they were treated, she added.
A main goal of the club is to educate and share information and let people make their own decisions, said Karen Coyne, the club’s adviser.
“It’s important to make educated decisions, especially with something as important as your food,” Coyne said. “It can either make you really healthy or destroy your body…So it’s important to know where that food comes from and without that knowledge (people can be) more inclined to make poor choices.”
The club also promotes treating animals with respect and educating the public about unethical practices regarding animals (like puppy mills), among other animal-related issues.
Their core values include leadership, compassion, lifelong learning and respect for all beings. The CIA Club vision is “to develop healthy, strong, compassionate leaders and a thriving environment through diet, education and service for animals.”
The club will be promoting all of this and, working with local shelters, adopting out dogs this Saturday at its 4th Annual Dog Adoption and Animal Awareness Fair on the NHHS campus.
The event will be from noon until 4 p.m. and will feature a bake sale, drawing and silent auction. The bake sale will feature vegan cookies, cupcakes and other treats.
Prizes will include an iPad, free dinner, fitness training sessions, facials and massages and more.
Some of the sponsors include Estee Zipser, a local, independent Arbonne skin care product consultant, animal activist Tatiana Freitas, local women‘s athletic and wellness center Body Design, O.P.I. salon products, Stevens & Cross Cosmetics and many more.
Local companies Austin Rose, Inc., and Dogma Pet Portraits will also have booths at the event.
The dog adoptions will have pooches of all shapes, sizes, colors, ages and breeds from four local rescues groups: A Wish for Animals. Barks of Love, New Beginnings for Animals and So. Cal. Lab Retriever Rescue.
“A lot of them are desperate for homes,” Deluna said.
Last year, eight dogs were adopted out at the event, Coyne said, but a lot of people left their information and adopted dogs later.
The club has been planning the event for several months, Deluna said. They have been meeting at least twice a week since January and about four times a week more recently.
The core group of CIA Club members include Deluna and co-presidents Lily Chavis and Daniella Carrese, both freshmen.
Other students that are volunteering their help for the event include Michelle Agustin, Sanra Cabrera, Elizabeth Kremer, Paloma Lamas, Mayra Lopez, Brian Morales, Adilene Perez, and Sydney Roberts.
Coyne founded the club informally in 2005 and it became an official 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 2007.
Students learn through field trips, guest speakers, books and movies and other research methods. They learn leadership skills by organizing events, contacting possible event sponsors, passing out club literature and working with a team. Because of the club’s non-profit status, students can also earn community service credit.
In recent years, the club took a field trip to Animal Acres, a farm animal rescue and refuge on the outskirts of Los Angeles. They have also donated money and volunteered for other animal-related non-profit organizations, Coyne said. They also gave out their first scholarship last year, she added.
The group also tries to work with schools to make sure healthy plant-based meals are offered.
“The club has a life changing experience for me,” Deluna said. “The more knowledge passed out (the better)… If (people) actually fully realized the impact we have, even something as simple as our eating habits, on animals, it could open a lot of people’s eyes… Things would change.”
See photos and a recap of this year’ s event here.