Sunday, May 19, 2019     Volume: 20, Issue: 11

Santa Maria Sun / School Scene

The following article was posted on June 6th, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 14 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 19, Issue 14

Righetti Animal Lovers complete animal emergency training


When Genete Bowen hit and killed a loose dog with her car in early 2007, her life changed.

She didn’t know how to help the dog, and quickly realized that there is no emergency number to call when an animal needs immediate medical attention—there are no animal ambulances or first responders specializing in animal care.

Shortly after the accident, Bowen founded DogE911, an organization that provides all-encompassing animal emergency training to animal owners hoping to better care for their pets during emergencies. DogE911’s curriculum includes information on animal prevention care, natural disaster planning and response, first aid, holistic remedies, and critical care.

Genete Bowen, left, an animal emergency medical technician and founder of DogE911, and Jr. Vet Tyler Kreider, right, find the location of a lymph gland on a dachshund named Chloe.

The classes help animal owners become “their own first responders,” Bowen said.

Allan Hancock College student Crystal-Bianca Cabanas joined the organization’s Jr. Vet Program in April 2013, just before her freshman year at Ernest Righetti High School.

Since then, Cabanas said she’s learned how to perform CPR on most animals, how to provide first aid, and how to help animals during fires, earthquakes, and floods. Cabanas also attended an animal lobbying event in Sacramento, where she met with state legislators and learned about proposed bills that could help further protect animal rights.

As a youth ambassador with the Jr. Vet Program, Cabanas said she also helps teach first aid, disaster preparedness, and animal CPR classes, courses she helped teach at Ernest Righetti High School on May 28.

While most students stayed home to enjoy the Memorial Day holiday, several members of the Animal Lovers Club were at school bright and early for all-inclusive pet emergency training.

“It was such a great opportunity to have met this group of people and see how involved they are in the community helping the animals,” Cabanas wrote in an email to the Sun. “These programs, such as DogE911, help enlighten kids and adults about animals’ needs.”

Members of the Animal Lovers Club, which science teacher Samantha Van Patten started in 2010, work together to care for a variety of animals, including snakes, lizards, a rabbit, a chinchilla, a bird, turtles, a rat, a skink, and a fish. Van Patten said club members, roughly 25 in all, learn to feed, water, clean, and exercise every animal.

“With the Animal Lovers Club we have special needs students, AP students, general ed students, students who are at risk, and even students who know English as a second language,” Van Patten told the Sun over the phone, the sound of farm goats bleating in the background. “So it seems like everyone coming together with that common goal of making sure animals are cared for and feel loved, it seems like that spans everything. There’s no judgement, and we’re all there just to love the animals.”

Van Patten said her students are always coming up with new ways to better care for the animals. One year it was a sign-in sheet to ensure members were spending enough time with the animals. The next year it was a chore checklist to make sure the animals weren’t being overfed and that their cages were being cleaned.

This year, Van Patten said her students raised money to pay for DogE911 training.

The seven club members who attended learned to evaluate and properly care for each animal from “head to tail,” Van Patten said. They learned to feel for unhealthy lumps, to check pulses, how to stop a bleed, and to watch for behavioral signs of health problems.

“When the kids left, they just felt so much more empowered,” Van Patten said. “All of that just empowered them so much more to really care for the animal rather than just cleaning it and feeding it.” 

Staff Writer Kasey Bubnash writes School Scene each week. Information can be sent to the Sun via mail, fax, or email at

Weekly Poll
How should the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District improve its A-G completion rates?

Align graduation requirements with university entrance requirements.
Ensure that students and parents are well aware of A-Gs and what they are before high school.
Improve support services and summer school classes for students who fall behind.
Completion rates are fine as is. Not everyone wants to go to a four-year college!

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