When the time came for Jackson Bauer to pursue the rank of Eagle Scout, he had no doubt his project would benefit homeless animals.
In fact, what Jackson did now provides an extra level of comfort for dogs awaiting adoption at the Fulton County Humane Society.
On Sept. 2, the 14-year-old Wauseon High School student delivered 24 hand-crafted elevated dog beds to the facility. It was the culmination of an Eagle project involving creativity, fundraising, lots of planning, and a “Build Day” that involved Boy Scout Troop 8 in Wauseon and a group of enthusiastic relatives.
Jackson, who ascended through the ranks to Life Scout in Troop 8, knew he wanted his Eagle Scout service project to help animals in a shelter. His family had adopted rescue animals over the years, and the sight of those strays haunted him.
“I am a true animal lover, and when I go to shelters and see those homeless animals it breaks my heart,” he said.
For inspiration, Jackson visited the county’s new Humane Society facility at 14720 County Road J soon after it opened in July. He kicked around several of his project ideas with Executive Director Steve Wanner and his wife, Tracy, including organizing a pet food drive, providing adoption kits, and building the elevated beds. He discovered that all the ideas, except for the beds, were already covered through corporate donations to the facility.
“But the dog beds were something that they seemed very interested in,” Jackson said.
He found a website with instructions on how to build them. Jackson said it also explained that elevated beds, which take dogs off the hard concrete floors of the facility, keep them calmer, which can make them more appealing to potential adopters.
After further discussions with Wanner, it was decided that two sizes of beds would be necessary to fit the different-sized kennels at the Humane Society. “I kept in mind that, because I was asking for some supplies to be donated, I needed to plan the project in a way that minimized waste,” Jackson said.
He bought enough material to construct a prototype bed of PVC pipe and nylon mesh fabric that can be replaced when it wears out. Jackson’s parents, Jim and Andrea Bauer, allowed the family’s dogs to be used as testers before Jackson presented the prototype for Wanner’s approval.
It took only two weeks for Jackson to collect about $500 in donations for the project costs, including PVC pipe donated by Ace Hardware and money from J&B Feed Company, DW Custom Rods, local animal lover Brandy Devier, and relatives.
“All of the donors were very enthusiastic about the project, and were proud to be part of it,” he said. “The Wanners seemed very happy and excited about the project. They were very appreciative, and expressed how they enjoyed seeing youth get involved in the community.”
On what Jackson dubbed “Build Day,” 24 elevated dog beds were constructed by 17 volunteers in assembly line fashion over 2 1/2 hours in the Bauer family barn. The volunteers included extended family members and both members and leaders of Boy Scout Troop 8. Twelve small and 12 large beds were donated to the Humane Society.
Wanner liked the project from the beginning. “I thought it was great. I thought that was really considerate, and very humane,” he said of the beds.
Prior to receiving them, the facility had placed blankets or comforters on the kennel floors for the dogs to lie on. “This is a more permanent solution to keeping them up off the concrete. They all took to them real quick,” Wanner said.
Jackson is currently completing his application to become an Eagle Scout, and hopes to receive the rank by year’s end. He’ll be honored at a customary Eagle Court of Honor ceremony attended by family and troop members. A date and location have yet to be selected.
He said when the time came to pursue the Eagle Scout rank, he knew his project had to benefit the homeless animals.
“I always leave (the shelters) wishing there was something I could do to help them, since adopting them all isn’t an option,” he said. “I may not be able to help all of the animals, but at least I can help some.”
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.