Alachua County Animal Services received five new pieces of agility equipment for the dogs in its care.
Volunteers are now able to exercise the dogs every day on traditional agility competition equipment: an A-frame, a dog walk, weave poles and a jump. The final piece of the collection is a shade hut.
The equipment was donated by local Eastside High School senior Jenny Banks as part of a project to achieve her Gold Award. The Gold Award is the highest achievement in Girl Scouts. It is equivalent to the Eagle Scout for Boy Scouts, said the troop’s co-leader Eileen Sayeski.
Similar structures were available in one of the play yards at ACAS, but they were rotting. The new structures will replace the old ones, providing a safer experience for the dogs and volunteers.
Hilary Hynes, Public Education Program Coordinator for the ACAS, says that the equipment provides confidence building for the dogs and teaches them obedience skills as well as controlled walking skills that make them more adoptable.
ACAS has 105 dog runs, similar to kennels, and the shelter is currently about 80 percent full. The property also contains eight play yards, however, only two of them have anything in them.
“All of these dogs are brilliant, they just need a chance to show it,” Hynes said.
Hynes and Banks worked together for about a year. Most of the $490 project was funded by previous Girl Scout cookie sales. Banks also received donations from friends and family and used some of her own money.
Banks spent 93 hours planning and designing the project, including 18 hours of construction and eight hours of painting.
Banks said she wanted to focus on animal health, care and adoption for her project and contribute back to the animal community in Gainesville.
“I really like being able to inspire people through good actions,” she said.
Banks has been in Girl Scouts for 13 years.
“I’m really proud,” Sayeski said. “(For Jenny) to have achieved this award really is amazing.”