Eagle Scout candidate leads a project to create a place for puppies to run at the Independence Animal Shelter

Chris Pack has always had a natural love for animals. It is a love he said is difficult to describe.

“I’ve just naturally been fascinated with animals and what they like to do all of my life,” Pack, 13, said.

Because of a young boy who aspires to become a veterinarian someday, puppies at Independence Animal Services can now exercise outside in a clean area.

Pack, an eighth-grade student at Brittany Hill Middle School in Blue Springs, facilitated the research and construction of a puppy run at the animal shelter.

Yvonne Donald, project adviser and volunteer at animal services, said puppies younger than 6 months of age must remain in their cages since they are without all of their immunizations.

Because of this, the puppies must exercise in a separate area from the grown dogs.

“Of all the ages, puppies should be able to get out and play,” Donald said.

In May, Donald made a request to Boy Scout Troop 692 – Chris’ troop – for a volunteer to build the puppy run.

Merit badges line Chris’ vest – he has a total of 28 badges, including eight Eagle badges. He has just four Eagle Scout badges left to complete.

But the puppy run project was different from his others in the Boy Scouts, Chris said.

“We have some dads in the troop whose professions involve concrete work, so based on the dimensions that we gave them, they were able to come up with an estimate for us,” Chris said. “This also differed because I actually got to see how it worked out for the puppies that got to go through it.”

Chris determined that the run would measure 9 feet by 27 feet, and he helped calculate costs.

This project also involved an immense amount of community support, Donald said. Chris contacted community members and business leaders for resources – the Independence Kiwanis Club and Independence attorney and business owner Ken McClain each donated $300.

So, did the puppies respond to their new space?

“They seemed very excited and very happy. They were jumping around,” Chris said. “They looked much livelier than I’ve seen them in the cages. I just think that it will make their lives a much better stay while they’re here.”

Cari Pack, Chris’ mother, said this project also differed because the benefiting organization had no money for the project. The original estimated project cost was $550, which was based on visiting different community businesses, Cari said.

Companies that donated labor and supplies were Kidwell Construction, Guier Fence Company and Lafarge-Independence Quarry. Additional concrete was needed, so LaFarge sent a second truck of concrete. Leftover concrete then was used to construct a back step near the dog and puppy runs.

“We are just so very, very grateful to the community for stepping up and helping us out because we would have never been able to do it all by ourselves,” Cari said.

The project required a total of 206 volunteer hours, while Chris logged about 36 volunteer hours. On Sept. 20, the run was completed. Mayor Don Reimal presented Chris with a proclamation during the opening ceremony.

“It was no small project – that’s for sure,” Donald said.

Cari experienced pride and joy as her son worked on his Eagle Scout project.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the boys to develop skills that they might not be able to pick up just under the ordinary person,” Cari said. “Every dad doesn’t have every skill, so getting together with all of these adults and kids to work on a project teaches the boys tons about leadership, cooperation and working together to solve a problem.”

Donald said she is impressed with Chris’ responsibility and organizational skills.

“He’s done really well,” she said. “It’s a shame that for 50 years, these animals have had to be in cages. It should have been done a long time ago. It’s wonderful.”

Chris said his favorite aspects about Boy Scouts include the camping out, learning new skills and meeting new people.

“You learn to become a trustworthy person,” he said. “It can really change you and your personality, so it’s a lot of fun.”

Chris said he plans to volunteer at the animal shelter in the near future.

“Generally, if there’s an opportunity to volunteer in community service, Chris is involved,” Cari said.