Dirigo student organizes drive for pet supplies


PERU — Tiasha Burgess loves animals.

The 10-year-old Dirigo Elementary School fourth-grader owns and helps care for Cody, a yellow lab, kittens Dusty and Precious, two hens named Buddy and Cottontail, and a fluffy, gray and black rabbit named Smokey. She plans to get a guinea pig soon.

Tiasha particularly likes her pets because she can cuddle with most of them. She even tried that with the hens, but got pecked, so she decided to stay with the furry critters, she said.

Sometimes her brother, Kyle, 12, also helps with the feeding, cleaning cages and playing.

Because she likes animals so much and knows the local animal shelter needs food, litter, toys and other items, she decided to organize a drive for supplies for McKennel’s Animal Adoption Agency on Hall Hill Road in Rumford.

“There are a lot of animals there, and everything is so expensive,” she said.

She began her drive at the school at the beginning of February. She wrapped it up Friday. Children and staff members brought in many bags of dog and cat food, kitty litter and lots of toys.

Assistant Principal Crystal Duguay said the school encourages students to think of others. Last year, another girl held a hat and mitten drive for youngsters who needed them.

Tiasha’s parents are Bethany and Scott Burgess. The family lives in Carthage.