Student puts her heart into community service hours

Deidre Cruse
SAVING THE ANIMALS...Aspiring veterinarian Cecile McClure of St. Gabriel holds one of the five pets she has placed in homes as part of her school community service project.

For her school community service hours, 12-year-old Cecile McClure of St. Gabriel found a project close to her heart – helping Iberville Animal Control find homes for adoptable pets.

Last year, Animal Control humanely euthanized 1,635 animals, indicating the need for people to spay or neuter their pets or to adopt strays.

In the first three weeks of her project, Cecile, an aspiring veterinarian and a student at Baton Rouge International School, has found homes four dogs and a cat.

“It's great that she had the idea to help save some of the animals that are impounded,” said Iberville Chief Administrative Officer Edward A. “Lucky” Songy Jr., an animal lover who oversees Animal Control. “...You can tell she loves animals and wants to be a vet when she grows up.”

“She comes by that honestly, that love of animals,” said her mother, Dr. Angela Samson. Both Samson and Angela's father, Dr. Roy McClure, are veterinarians.

Each week, Animal Control provides Cecile with photos of one or two healthy animals in need of homes when she then posts to Craig's list, a free website for advertisements in the Baton Rouge area.

If someone would like to adopt an animal, Cecile arranges a meeting.

If the animal is older than 12 weeks, it is spayed or neutered and vaccinated against rabies before going to the new owner. Under 12 weeks, the person adopting the pet gets a voucher for the services.

Cecile said she would not be able to adopt out the animals without the support of Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso Jr. and the staff at Animal Control.

Among the animals Cecile has helped to save so far are a purebred poodle mother and two of her four puppies.