Students Make, Sell Dog Treats to Benefit Local Shelter

March 23, 2017 ~ Making and baking dog treats is a twice-weekly ritual for students in Becky Baker and Renee Knoles' special education classes at Arbor Creek Elementary School. But there's much more to this activity than measuring and stirring. More than a dozen students are learning social skills and how to handle money as they sell the treats to make money and buy supplies for a local animal shelter.

"They're practicing teamwork as well as following directions and math skills involved in cooking," Baker said. "During the selling phase, they practice money and social interaction skills. For some students those skills are already strengths, and they help model them for their peers."

The idea to make and sell items as a learning activity began about seven years ago at Arbor Creek. It started with homemade dog biscuits and colorful bandanas that could be donated to area veterinarians and dog groomers. More recently, the district's Community Based Instruction guidelines called for more community service involvement.

Starting with a bit of seed money in August, Baker and Knoles buy ingredients to make the dog treats. They partner with a team of paraeducators work with the students to bake twice a week and sell twice a week in the school lobby.

"Our first year we donated the money to a telethon to benefit the Great Plains SPCA," Baker recalled. "For the past two years, we've asked the Olathe Animal Shelter for a list of things they need."

This year students sold enough dog treats to buy several small pet beds, cat litter, and essential cleaning supplies. They delivered the items during a field trip to the shelter before Spring Break.

"This field trip lets the kids see how the project helps the animals," she said. "This project is a great real-world application of lots of things we practice every day, and our hope is that the skills can someday be generalized in a vocational setting."

The outing is a positive experience for students and shelter employees alike.

"We love the relationship we have with Arbor Creek students," animal shelter customer service representative Jane Dockery said. "We have a lot of people who donate to the shelter, but we love the involvement of the kids making the dog treats, selling them, buying item to donate.

"The best part for us is the visit. The kids really get to spend time with the animals and see the end result of what they worked so hard for."

Twice a week, more than a dozen students with special needs gather to make and bake dog treats as a fundraiser to help the Olathe Animal Shelter. Students learn about following the directions on a recipe and measuring ingredients as part of this activity. students make and bake dog treats

On the days they’re not making dog treats, the students spend some time selling the dog biscuits. This project gives the students a chance to work on their social skills and practice counting money and making change if necessary. 

Submitted photos
students sell dog treats to raise funds
After all the hard work of making, baking and selling dog treats, the students enjoy a field trip to the Olathe Animal Shelter. Their fundraiser made enough money to purchase several small pet beds and essential cleaning products for the local shelter. students deliver supplies to shelter
Students held back a few treats from their last selling day so they could share treats with the shelter dogs. The students were greeted with loud yelps of joy when they walked into the kennel area of the shelter recently. boy gives treat to dog

Things were quieter in the cat room of the Olathe Animal Shelter where students learned how much fun the cats have when you dangle a toy in front of them.

Photos by Marlene Colgan
girl plays with cat