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Rags for Wags
A pair of preteen friends make a difference for dogs and cats
From left: Otis, Chloe Schneider, Claire Puricelli and Jemma.

It’s never too early to be the change. Claire Puricelli and Chloe Schneider had barely broken into double-digits when they channeled their elbow grease and ingenuity to benefit shelter dogs and cats. The 11-year-old friends from Webster Groves, Mo., recognized that not everyone can make the big commitment of adopting an animal, but they still want to help. So, they created “Rags for Wags” to provide area shelters with much needed supplies and support. Started on Make A Difference Day, October 23, 2010, Claire and Chloe spread the word about donation drives with flyers and raised some donations with a lemonade stand.

They each also took the big step of rescuing a dog. That’s how we learned about the girls, when they submitted their rescued dogs for a Bark cover dog contest.

“After making a donation to Stray Rescue of St. Louis, I fell in love with what the shelter did so I decided that I wanted to get our second dog from there,” Chloe explained. “We met Otis and instantly fell in love with him. His hipbones were visibly sticking out of his body and he had cuts and scratches all over him. A few weeks later we brought him home to live with me and my family.” She says the scrawny little shelter dog changed her life.

Claire looked online for dogs available at area shelters. “Jemma’s photo caught my eye immediately. Her quirky ears and sweet brown eyes won me over,” Claire remembers. The playful, energetic Border Collie mix, who had been abandoned as a tiny puppy, was being fostered at the time.

The girls took a few minutes from the start of the school year to answer a few of our questions for Bark about Rags for Wags.

How did you come up with the idea of Rags for Wags?

I (Claire) was making a delivery of blankets to the local Humane Society and brought my friend, Chloe, along. We are both dog lovers. On the way home, we were thinking of ways we could keep going back. We collected some more blankets from home and came back the following week. We became close to many of the dogs, one of which was a playful Great Pyrenees puppy named Holly. Seeing her in a cage broke our hearts. You probably know the feeling of walking into a shelter and wanted to take all of the dogs home. Knowing that we couldn't do this, we at least wanted to make their stay at the shelter as comfortable as possible. We then decided to create a nonprofit organization that collects donations that will benefit shelter animals... Rags for Wags!

What does your organization do?

Our organization collects things such as towels, blankets, rags, stuffed animals, dog toys, leashes, collars, etc., and also money donations. We count them, label them and separate them into bags. We then deliver them to area animal shelters such as Stray Rescue and the Open Door Animal Shelter. We have delivered over 1,200 items so far.

How are Jemma and Otis doing?

Jemma and Otis are doing great. Jemma turned one in August 11, and Otis will be one on September 22. Jemma and Otis have been having many ‘puppy playdates.’ It is fun to see two dogs run around in a big backyard with no care in the world.

Do you have any big plans for helping dogs in the future?

We plan to recruit some of our friends to help us expand Rags for Wags so that we will get more donations to comfort and care for more shelter animals.

We love hearing about members of the Bark community making a difference in the lives of animals in need. It’s extra special when they start early. Congratulations Claire and Chloe. Keep us posted on your future good works.

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Lisa Wogan lives in Seattle and is the author of, most recently, Dog Park Wisdom. lisawogan.com
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Submitted by "Proud Grandmot... | August 27 2011 |

Great article about two fantastic girls making a difference in the St Louis metro area !!!

Submitted by Grandpa & Grand... | August 29 2011 |

We are so proud of granddaughter, Claire and her friend Chloe, to not only have the compassion they show for shelter animals but the drive to keep on keeping on. From personal experience we know how hard it is not to take every dog home so finding an alternative is super. We applaud your passion.

Submitted by Carolyn | August 30 2011 |

Congrats to you both! Clearly you are making a big difference, both to your own adoptees and those that you donate to. Good job!

Submitted by Deana Smith | August 31 2011 |

I am so impressed with what these girls are doing and what they have been able to accomplish! I am proud to live in the same community (Webster Groves) as Claire and Chloe.

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