For Wantagh senior and Girl Scout Natalie Bloniarz, earning her Gold Award is much more than just the end of her scouting journey, but a large mark on the community in which she was raised. After doing her research, the 17-year-old wanted to create an easy and sustainable project that would involve animals. After playing with Peaches, her Pug-Shiba-Inu mix, she decided that pet toys would be the best idea.
“Watching people actually make the toys is the best,” Bloniarz said. “It’s kind of an ugly toy, but your pet doesn’t really care if it’s ugly.” With help from her family and Scout leader, Bloniarz was able to set up a time to present her project at the Wantagh Public Library on March 14 for a half-dozen people. With just a tennis ball and some cut up t-shirts as the material, the Scout and her volunteers were able to create a safe and fun toy for both dogs and cats. All of the toys made at the presentation will be donated to the Last Hope Animal Shelter in Wantagh.
“I tried to aim my presentation more towards high school students because the topic of puppy mills can seem a little dark,” she said. “I made a website, where you can find my project and find all of the craft demos, too.”
During the presentation, Bloniarz demonstrated how to make the pet toys and talked about various issues that come with buying puppies versus adopting them from a shelter.
“Many times, the puppy mills that provide the dogs to people who want to buy them are very unethical and many of those animals just end up being rescued and put in shelters anyway,” she said. “Some shelters also don’t have enough room for all of these animals and end up putting them down.”
Bloniarz also spoke with students about the consequences of returning dogs to shelters, how to figure out who can take care of a pet while away at college, and the pros of adopting animals rather than buying.