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September 19, 2021

Buzz: Wonder Woofs approved for Rancho San Justo

Sean and Janelle Hagett will soon be touring Rancho San Justo Middle School with their golden retrievers Ranger and Sparks in tow as part of the Wonder Woofs program.

The Hagetts started Wonder Woofs, a nonprofit that provides visits to school campuses with drug detecting dogs, last year when they began working with San Benito High School. The Hollister School District Board of Trustees recently approved Wonder Woofs to bring the dogs on campus at the middle school, with Superintendent Gary McIntire and Principal Elaine Klauer working out the last-minute details of how the program will run at their school last week.

“The board asked good questions and our policy does allow for use of a narcotics detection dog,” McIntire said, of the Feb. 26 board meeting when the item was approved. “The trustees wanted to make sure the policy would support the program.”

McIntire said the staff at Rancho San Justo, where a 14-year-old was arrested Monday for possessing marijuana at school, are supportive of the program.

He said parents and the community would be notified of the program.

“If there was one overarching benefit I think it would be the deterrent factor for students knowing when we say it is a drug-free zone it is a drug-free zone,” McIntire said.

McIntire said the presence of the dog could deter students from bringing illegal substances on campus that could threaten the health and safety of other students or lead to expulsion for students caught with the substances.

“That could really interfere with the success of a student later in life,” he said, of expulsion. “The real benefit is to discourage students from bringing illegal substances to school.”

McIntire said school officials will track data over the next year to see if the number of students suspended or expelled decreases significantly with the presence of the dogs.

He said the trustees and district officials were open to working with the Haggetts because they have a track record with the program already.

The Wonder Woofs program has been working with San Benito High School since the last school year and they started working in Pacific Grove this year. McIntire said they anticipate having the dogs on campus by the end of March. Sean Haggett said the nonprofit is continuing efforts to get into more schools in the region. They are also focused on expanding awareness of the new nonprofit and increasing donations since the services are offered free of charge to participating schools. They are working with San Benito High School to put on a raffle fundraiser to win a weekend getaway to Bear Valley in April.

“We were trying to find something that would appeal to the kids,” Haggett said, noting that if someone under age wins the trip they will need to have adult supervision to take it. “Hopefully, the kids will help support us.” Haggett said more fundraisers are planned in the future, with the Associated Student Body and FFA being especially supportive.

“Right now, it’s coming out of my pocket book,” Haggett said. “Donations have been really limited.”

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