A charity organization honored a group of high school students recently for raising more than $10,000 to help soldiers bring home animals they adopted while on duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals International gave the students at Fair Lawn High School in Fair Lawn, N.J., a painting of the brown and white puppy that their donation paid to transport from Afghanistan.
"The response from people across the board has been amazing," said Dena Desantis, the guidance counselor who helped the students organize their fundraisers. "Without the support of other people in the community, it would have been really difficult to make this happen and be as successful as it was."
The 11 students in the school's animal rights club originally planned to raise $4,000 to pay transportation, veterinary and other costs for a female Navy officer to bring home the puppy, named Tiger, which she adopted in Afghanistan.
But donations kept coming even after Tiger arrived at his new home, Desantis said. The students have given more than twice their goal to SPCA International. That money will pay for more dogs and cats to be shipped to soldiers who adopted them, Desantis said.
The students and several Bergen County, N.J., residents also volunteered earlier this summer as the organization brought more than 26 Iraqi and Afghan dogs and cats through Newark Liberty International Airport on their way to new homes, Desantis said.
SPCA International transported those animals in a large group to beat summer animal travel embargoes.
"It's fabulous that they have helped so much," SPCA International spokeswoman Stephanie Scroggs said of the students.