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Shelter adds more room to get acquainted

The animals at the Greenville Animal Shelter will have more room to let their personalities show, thanks to Shannon Leutzinger, an eleventh grader at Greenville High School.

As her Girl Scout Gold Award project, Shannon helped to expand the &uot;meet-and-greet&uot; room at the shelter.

The goal of the project is to increase the rate of successful adoptions, she said.

Shannon began volunteering at the shelter last fall, spending her time socializing with cats.

Before then, she had never owned or even played with a cat due to her mother's allergies.

&uot;I heard stories of people bringing animals back only a few days after adopting a pet because they didn't know the animal's personality before adoption,&uot; she said.

Her mother helped five animals find new homes because she brought them out into the lobby to interact with people, instead of bringing them in the much smaller original meet-and-greet room.

&uot;If people have a better environment in which to interact with the animals before adoption, the adoption rate will be more successful,&uot; Shannon said.

She formed the idea for the project in January or February of this year after her family remodeled their bathroom, and she realized the meet-and-greet room could be expanded for a small amount of money.

Donations for the construction, which cost between $350-400, came from the Humane Society and private donors.

With the help of her father, mother and twin sister, Shannon cleaned out the storage room adjacent to the meet-and-greet room, knocked out the wall between the two rooms, painted the walls and the trimming, took out speakers and one sink, plastered over the holes in the wall and scraped four layers of paint off the floor before retiling it.

A bench also was refurbished for the room in honor of Lucky, a Troy resident's cat.

Cindy Hinton, a Pike County OCAP employee, found Lucky, along with several other kittens, on her office doorstep over 10 years ago.

She bottle-fed the kittens, but only Lucky survived.

He lived with Hinton and her daughter Michelle for 10 years before he was put down this year on April 28 after contracting cancer.

A picture of Lucky hangs near the bench in the new meet-and-greet room.

Shannon had many prerequisites to meet before she was eligible for the Gold Award, said her mother, Cindy Leutzinger, such as spending at least 25 hours performing leadership activities and earning other awards.

Shannon had to send in a proposal for her project to the Girl Scout Council for approval before beginning.

&uot;The Girl Scout Council prefers something that will continue to give for years,&uot; Cindy said.

&uot;They look for projects with lasting impact.&uot;

The Girl Scouts require the final project to take at least 50 hours to complete, she went on.

Shannon spent nearly 100 hours on the project, which spanned about three months.

&uot;The Gold Award is the highest award in girl scouting,&uot; Cindy said. &uot;It is comparable to an Eagle Scout Award for a Boy Scout.&uot;