DECA Students Campaign to End Animal Abuse


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A group of Fairfax High School DECA students are hosting an event on Nov. 1 at Providence Park, in coordination with Lost Dog and Rescue and Susie’s Hope, to raise awareness for animal abuse.

The event will include rescue dogs available for adoption, as well as costumes for patrons’ own dogs to wear in the spirit of Halloween, according to senior group member Seth Lockard. “You can come and look at animals and see if you want to adopt an animal,” he said. “Other people around the community can bring dogs and dress their dogs up like animals.”

The event is targeted for both FHS students and members of the Fairfax community. The games and activities will be for people of all ages.

Lockard, as well as his groupmates Kyle Casey and Jamie Graff, came up with the idea for the project because of their personal interests as well as personal experiences. “We knew we wanted to do a public relations [project] and we wanted to do something that meant something to us,” said Lockard.

Seth Lockard, Kyle Casey and Jamie Graff are hosting an event to raise awareness to stop animal abuse. (Photo courtesy of AmazonCARES)

Seth Lockard, Kyle Casey and Jamie Graff are hosting an event to raise awareness to stop animal abuse. (Photo courtesy of AmazonCARES)

Lockard owns a dog, so his interest in helping similar dog owners contributed to the idea for this project. Graff’s dog was hit by a car so she has first hand experience with animal abuse and wanted to prevent future abuse. “We thought of something that we all care about,” Lockard said.

Both Lost Dog and Rescue and Susie’s Hope were extremely cooperative in helping to put on this event. “I emailed [Lost Dog and Rescue] and they emailed me right back and they wanted to help us right away [because] it was a good cause,” said Lockard.

Graff and marketing teacher Rachael Malenich contacted Susie’s Hope and gained similar results.
Susie’s Hope is a nonprofit organization founded by Donna Lawrence that raises money and awareness for animal abuse. Lawrence was attacked by a pit bull and survived and then met an abused pit bull mix named Susie.

She decided to form the charity to help other dogs like the one that attacked her and Susie and to fight against animal abuse. In addition to the charity, Lawrence lobbied for a bill against animal abuse to pass through Congress and it was successfully signed into law. The law is now referred to by Lawrence as “Susie’s Law.”

“We emailed [Lawrence] maybe two weeks ago and she emailed us back the next day saying she was going to be at the event,” said Lockard. “She was going to help us out.”
The marketing project was a “campaign” to “raise awareness for whatever cause you selected,” said Casey.

Since Fairfax County Public Schools policy does not allow students to raise money, the event is mostly to raise awareness for animal abuse and animal safety. The dog adoption at the event will be charitable aspect of it.

“The whole idea of the project is to make known of animal abuse, people know of it but it’s not [made well known],” said Lockard. “I feel like people don’t think about it, people don’t think about what’s going on outside because there are thousands of animals being abused each week, each month and year. We’re just trying to make it known and try and raise money for Lost Dog and Rescue.”

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