Bishop Lynch’s dean of students is creating a school of animal lovers

Dog Adoption Day

When: Saturday, October 21, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Where: Bishop Lynch High School inner courtyard, 9750 Ferguson

Cost: $125 donation to the Protective Animal League (P.A.L.) includes spaying or neutering and initial vaccinations; all dogs are socialized for a minimum of six weeks to assess health and personality

For information: Contact P.A.L. rescuer Jaynie Kysar at 214-388-7325

Looking for a pet to adopt? Visit bishoplynch.org/activities/animalrescue/photos

It’s not uncommon to find a couple of dogs or cats lounging around the office of Lauren Roberts, Bishop Lynch High School’s dean of students.

“My boss is really fond of that,” Roberts deadpans. “It’s the one area of my job where I’m insubordinate. I’m usually a really good girl.”

The animals are strays that she and students pick up in hopes of finding them good homes. That’s the primary role of the school’s Animal Rescue Club, a group Roberts’ admittedly formed “as a way for me to have resources to support my habit of attracting stray animals,” she quips.

It’s definitely an effective approach. Photos of the furry orphans air on the school’s news show each morning before a captive audience of 1,100, so they never stay in Roberts’ office for long. If other Dallas schools did the same, Roberts says, they could make a huge dent in the animal abandonment population. Plus, she says, the club is an incredible outlet for students.

“Not every kid is athletic, not every kid is a scholar, not every kid can stand on the stage in front of 400 people, but an awful lot of kids have a genuine love for animals, and they should be able to exercise that at a school,” Roberts says. “My gut is that if every school had a club like this, there would be a group of students who might not feel like they have a place, who had a place.”

A favorite event is the biannual dog adoption day, when Roberts pairs roughly 40 dogs with students and loads them onto the school bus (which the transportation department loves, she says) so potential families can meet them in Bishop Lynch’s courtyard.

“At first, you would think it would just be chaos,” says sophomore Kimberly Roberts (no relation to her club sponsor). “I mean, a bus full of students and a bunch of dogs all different sizes? But it went really smoothly.”

Lauren Roberts also takes the students on a tour of a Dallas animal pound, which had quite an impact on 15-year-old Kimberly.

“It was depressing, very depressing, that so many people can’t take care of their pets, and they just get left behind there, and since they don’t have a lot of room, they have to kill them,” she says.

The trip teaches students about pet owners’ responsibility to spay and neuter, Roberts says, because they realize there are thousands more cats and dogs than homes for them. Roberts’ own three dogs are, of course, adopted strays, and their adorable mugs are prominently displayed in picture frames around her desk.

“That’s Shayna, my beloved,” she says, pointing to the photo of a Rottweiler, “and that’s Mr. Big — we call him a chiweiner — and here’s Raya, an Anatolian shepherd Great Pyrenees wolf mix, otherwise known as a big white hairy beast.”

Then she extends her arm and points to another photo atop a tall bookshelf. That, she says, is Bella, her 16-month-old daughter. She’s a bit apologetic that her dog photos are more conspicuous.

“My husband and I always tell Shayna, ‘Who’s the best girl ever?’” coos Roberts in a babytalk (or, in this case, doggietalk) voice. “My concern is one day soon Bella’s going to realize what we’re saying and think we’re talking about her, and we’re not.”

Her colleagues tease Roberts about her bleeding heart for animals, but many of them wind up eating their words when they fall in love and end up taking home one of the strays she picks up on the side of the road.

“There’s no shortage,” Roberts insists. “I was once jokingly accused of taking dogs out of back yards, but there’s no reason to do that — they find me.”


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