Junior animal rescuers: Mathis teens recognized for volunteer services

(From left) Mathis teens Haley Herrera, Mario Herrera, and Cristian Barajas were presented certificates of recognition at Smolik's Smokehouse on Friday for their volunteer work at Mathis' animal shelter. Imani Hinojosa, another teen volunteer, was not present but still had a certificate given in her honor.

MATHIS – While the summer is usually spent relaxing at the pool or enjoying time off from school, four Mathis teens have done just the opposite of that. 

Haley Herrera, Mario Herrera, Cristian Barajas and Imani Hinojosa have spent their summer working as volunteers at Mathis’ animal shelter. The teens began their volunteering after Mario brought in his sick dog to the rescue.

It was unknown at the time, but Mario’s dog had parvovirous, a infectious disorder that soon took his dog’s life. From there, Mario learned about his dog’s situation and how he could have treated the disease. 

“I learned about all the different dogs, mostly about what’s wrong with them and basically everything about the dogs here in Mathis and what the situation is,” said Mario. “There’s a lot of sick dogs here, and I didn’t know it was that bad.”

“At that point I kind of wanted to help a little bit more, so I learned more about the situation, learning about vaccinations as well, along with the (disease) parvo and how I could have better helped my dogs with treatment.”

Dea Brite, a Mathis resident and animal foster, said that during their time volunteering, the teens learned about the importance of vaccinations, spay and neutering, and had a firsthand look at the abandoning pet situation in South Texas. Additionally, the teens also learned about different signs of illness and how to treat those illnesses as well as general animal issues.

“To me, the kids are like our ambassadors to Mathis, to help correct the problems we have,” said Brite.

One thing Barajas learned while volunteering was inspecting the color and durability of animal’s poop. 

“If (the poop) was too watery, we would bring it to (Dea) to inspect it and see which dog was sick, so we could treat it quickly,” Barajas said. 

From volunteering at the rescue, Haley is now inspired to become a veterinary technician.

Brite wanted to recognize the teens for their hard work, so a special recognition was held at Smolik’s Smokehouse on Aug. 2.

At the event, Tom Armstrong, owner of the Fallen Horse Rescue and rescuer at the Mathis Animal Shelter, talked to the teens about animal neglect and caring for them, as well as answering any questions they may have had.

Brite presented Haley, Mario and Barajas with certificates of recognition. Hinojosa was not present at the event but was still given a certificate in her honor.