Warren County is considering a request to lower the age limit of volunteers at its Animal Control facility.
“A lot of parents have called wanting to know if their children can volunteer with us in order to complete their community service hours,” said Warren County Animal Control and Adoption Center director Kim Pettrey. “Most of them are 17, almost 18.”
The county began encouraging Animal Control volunteers in 2013. Among the restrictions placed at that time was all volunteers must be at least 18 years old and sign a waiver. No provision was included allowing underage individuals to volunteer with parental permission.
Some college scholarships, such as the Tennessee Hope Scholarship, require high school students to complete community service hours.
“A lot of kids are needing to meet their community service hours for their scholarships,” said Pettrey. “A lot of kids are graduating high school, they aren’t 18 years old, but they have to have so many community service hours before they can start college so they can keep their scholarships.”
The information was presented to the county Health and Welfare Committee with members Michael Martin, chair, Linda Jones, Tommy Savage and Blaine Wilcher in attendance.
Pettrey said she’s OK with lowering the age limit to 15.
“I would like you to consider allowing teenagers to volunteer at Animal Control, as young as 15, as long as their parents are willing to sign a waiver. We have a lot of young kids who want to volunteer. I don’t mind teenagers being out there. They work hard. They want to learn. They are very eager to learn. Right now, everyone has to be 18.”
Along with scholarships, some high school clubs require members to complete a minimum number of community service hours every school year.
“My daughter did that when she was in Interact,” said Savage. “She completed her community volunteer hours at the Humane Society.”
The county’s legal counsel will be asked to review the request before the committee makes a determination on changing the age limit restriction.