CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When Nichole Perry had to choose a community service project for her "Issues in Medicine" class at the University of Charleston, she immediately thought of the local humane society.
She's from Indiana, and grew up around animals.
"I like being around them," she said.
Still, when she started volunteering as a dog walker at the Kanawha Charleston Humane Shelter, she thought she would put in the 15 hours required for the class and then stop coming.
Instead, those 15 hours became the first of many, and jump-started a project that will help the animals at the shelter for many years.
She saw that what she was doing was helping -- she could see that the walks she took the dogs on made them feel better. So she kept coming back, and bringing her friends -- mainly her teammates on the basketball team at UC.
"I just told them what I was doing, and that I saw that the dogs needed help," she said. "I told them about how there are so many dogs and they're all locked up in a cage. I felt bad for them because I didn't know how long they'd been locked up because the people there are so busy they couldn't walk them all that often ... and they were on board."
But it wasn't long before she wanted to do more than just show up and walk the dogs. She noticed a kink in the dog walking system, and she wanted to fix it.